August 05, 2004

Museum of No Return

Yesterday, I accompanied Dennis to the National Museum as a sidetrip in his ongoing vacation here in Manila. We rode the jeepney and went down at the old Congress building. We were surprised to see that the Museum was under renovation. The question is: for how long? We were informed that the exhibits are currently housed in the nearby Finance building. So, as intrepid tourists, we walked over to the new museum and we were surprised at the state of the National Museum, which should be the repository of our culture and heritage.

When you go there, please bring an ounce of sanity because the information desk is as daft as a lobotomized chicken. She smilingly informed us that there are no available brochures or maps as to how the exhibits go. She cannot elucidate if the Spoliarium is on exhibit. Don't the employees know what on earth they're displaying there. Any well-respected museum should have more foresight than that! If you go to the Hong Kong Museum, you'll be all agog and be swept away in the depth of their exhibits.

Look at all those plates!! Posted by Hello

So, we headed first for the San Diego Exhibit. Wow! It was worthy of praise. The exhibit was well made with the ship's planks laid on the floor; the cannons and shots all meticulously arranged. The nice thing is, it was informative and interactive- meaning, research was very thorough and the ojects (cannons) can be touched. And get this- there was no guard around. Unfortunately, there were a handful of visitors to the museum. This is to show how we appreciate our cultural heritage: by not going to the museums.

Then there were lesser exhibits like the evolution of the Philippines, the exhibit of the Filipino people showcasing indiginous crafts and antiques from the Ivatans, to the Tausugs, from the Igorots to the Mangyans. There were swords, krisses, baskets, handlooms, dresses, cooking pots, utensils, head gears, etc. For school children, this was a perfect place to start immersing them into Philippine history & culture, but for the avid collector & art afficionado, the place is bereft of anything interesting (except for the San Diego wreck). We were looking for Lunas, Amorsolos, Hidalgos and old Spanish gold and ivory. But due partly to the renovation, only the peripheral specimens were exhibited. I'm sure, though, that when the old Museum will be opened it will be a prime tourist attraction. But if they shall procastinate and delay the opening of the old one, then as far as I'm concerned, this will be the last time I will go (lest bring anyone) to this "replacement" museum.

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