Let me ask……..when was the last time you visited the Museum?

 

Don’t look at me. It’s something I don’t do on a regular basis. But I would love to spend many afternoons there. And I continue to wish there is a good coffee corner somewhere within the building where I can take a break before pursuing a second run of the Gallery.

 

 

The National Art Gallery with the Balangay Diwata ng Lahi

 

 

As it turned out, I was good for just a couple of hours. No breaks. Glucose level drops in 2 hours after walking from Hall to Hall , up and down the 3 floors. And then I start longing for a cup of good brew and some munchies. Having said that, let me advise you to go in the morning after a good breakfast! Or in the afternoon after a good lunch ūüėČ

 

 

The Museum Of the Filipino People

 

 

When I got there, I decided to do the National Art Gallery first. The Museum of the Filipino People is good for a separate visit. “Slow by slow.” ūüėČ Who says you can rush through a Museum? The best time is always a time when you don’t care about the time. Go slow. Read all those markers. Every piece of art has something to say. Either written or visual or sensed. If you’re like me who hardly picks up an art or history book, this maybe a fine time to brush up on art and history. You just have to trust that the most relevant information are encapsulated in all those reading materials and markers.

 

 

Juan Luna

Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo‚Äôs ‚ÄúAssassination of Governor Bustamante‚ÄĚ

 

 

You may want to start with the Hall of Masters. Be prepared to be blown away. Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium” has that effect on most people. On the other hand, Hidalgo’s “Assassination of Governor Bustamante” reveals a violent side of Spanish friars of that period. See it to know what I mean. Sly. Sly.

 



 

There are special halls showcasing the Museum collections of Juan Luna, Hidalgo, Amorsolo, Botong Francisco, Napoleon Abueva, etc. I cannot write about all of them, and would have to limit myself to a few favorites. After all, the “selection” is a very personal decision. No pretensions here. In my book, art assumes significance when these treasured pieces “talk” to me. Or “touch” me. I may misinterpret its message, or completely misunderstand it. But why and how the message was conveyed to me is entirely my own perception. Or sensation? This may sound like it takes too much away from the artist himself. But I dare say that the artists’ messages affect people in different ways. Happy, sad, empty, peaceful, anxious, relaxing, refreshing, uplifting…… we feel as we feel.

 

 

How lucky were those who posed for Amorsolo! They have been immortalized by this National Artist’s magical hands. Truly, a “Pamana” or inheritance. Amorsolo’s legacy lives through these masterpieces. Thank God for this prolific painter, our very first National Artist. From Philippine landscapes to traditional Filipino practices and everyday life , to these portraits, one is transported back in time as one takes in all those details of his artful strokes. For sure, his uncle Fabian de la Rosa, another great Filipino artist, must be so proud having mentored Amorsolo in his younger days when he and his family (Amorsolo’s mom is De La Rosa’s cousin) lived with them after Amorsolo’s father died.

 

 

 

 

 

First off, I was very very happy to find the Museum Foundation Hall where one views Botong Francisco’s murals which were ‘rescued’ by the Foundation from Philippine General Hospital (PGH) where they were earlier housed. The murals represent the progress of medicine in our country, so it was fitting to have them in PGH. Over time, these art pieces hardly invited attention, much less admiration and respect, as PGH visitors had other mundane things in mind. Cleaned up, restored to its former glory, and accorded its due respect in a Hall focusing on the greatness of this National Artist is an answered prayer. Aaaaah. Those wooden benches looking like “hagabis” (were they? ) let one rest and simply take in all the beauty of the masterpieces.

 

 

 

 

Vessels of Faith. That’s what it says. Honestly? I don’t know one bit about this exhibit. So, I devoured all “lessons” to be learned right in this Hall. Remember what I told you? The good guys who made this exhibit possible would have read up on these art pieces, and like “Twitter” are constrained to write down/display all that information in as few words as possible. This is history “shortcut”, if I may call it that. And it is just what I need. Right then and there, I did my “cramming” as if I would have to pass an exam as I exit from the National Art Gallery.

 

 

 

 

So, how much do we know of the Tau-Tao? A quick reading gives ample background on this Bagobo myth on afterlife. The myth is complete with all those colorful characters which reminded me of those Ramayana tales and Panday movies. Imagine Lumabat’s journey from earth, crossing the horizon to reach the skyworld. Meeting and vanquishing a snake with sharp teeth and a mouth that opens wide and shut to cut one person half, chasing a deer 9 times around the world, belly-opening procedures to take out one’s intestines to free Lumabat of his earthly desires (hunger)! Oh, this is part of our history — all those pre-Hispanic beliefs and myths comprising the Filipino spirituality!

 

 

 

 

 

I lament that I did not take my history lessons seriously. How I wish we had the equivalent of an Ambeth Ocampo (myIdol) in my student years! Now I cram. And it takes more than a few visits to really appreciate our heritage housed in the National Arts Gallery. So much. Too much. So I have decided on my “slow by slow” mode as my memory bank is not as efficient as it used to be. A few exhibits at a time. A few artists at a time. And once more, how I wish there is a Coffee Shop within the Museum! Caffeine-starved, my memory bank screams “full”. No storage space.

 

 

Talk to you later, guys!