The City That Never Sleeps
My name is John Mark Francia. I am, a Filipino. I find it hard to name things I hate (because i barely hate anything). I'm 18 and I don't mind being shy.I try my best at everything and never fear failure because I believe that there is a reason for everything

posted : Friday, July 27, 2012
title : A Window To The Past...


It was a sunny morning of August 27, 2012 when I and my friends(Janeal Jandayan, Kristel Garcia and Keyzl Fagarang) decided to have a journey to the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila.

The building itself is surprising due to its architectural design. It was established on October 29, 1901 as the Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce. According to the signage beside the entrance, it ended up changing names for so many times until President Fidel V. Ramos signed Republic Act 8492 in 1998 establishing the building as “National Museum of the Philippines” in commemoration with the 100 years of Philippine Independence.

The Philippine National Museum

We first went to the “Royal Botanist in the Philippines” in the second floor. It displays the drawings of Juan de Cuellar from the archives of the Real Jardin Botanica. It described Sorsogon as the most beautiful harbor produced by nature. The collection represents a unique and priceless depiction of the Philippine plants.

Just at the end of the hallway is the “Artistry of the Philippine Textiles” (Hibla ng Lahing Pilipino) showing the different fabrics used by our ancestors like the Bark which was recorded in early 1622, Abaca which was documented as early as 1573 and a lot more. The different traditional clothing were also in display like the Owes (Abra), Finangulawan (Mountain Province), Pis Siyabit (Sulu), Kinuttian (Ifugao), a woman’s blouse Pamokan and a man’s trouser Salual. This proves that the early Filipinos are already elegant when it comes to clothing. Cloth has become one of the markers of ethnic identity but the wearers have different intentions and method of using those clothes as a badge of their identity.


On the third floor, we came across those Fossils that were found in the Philippines. The Sperm Whale which was found in Torrijos, Marinduque really caught our attention because of its large size, almost occupying the whole lobby. Some fossils include the teeth of Giant Whale Shark found in Bolinao, Pangasinan and the Skeleton of Python and Carabao found in Cagayan Valley.


On the first floor, we found a room which includes a Zoning Plan of Manila made in 1933 and a lot of paintings like "Post Office Building destroyed during World War II", "Metropolitan Theatre" (1931) and "Jones Bridge" (1921).

Among my favorites are the two paintings related to Magellan’s rediscovery of our lovely country. The first was Vicente Manansala’s depiction of the “Planting of the First Cross” painted in 1965 and Carlos V. Francisco’s painting of “First Mass in Limasawa”, 1965. Those two are located in the Hall of National Artists for the Visual Arts along with the Sarimanok, and different sculptures.
Vicente Manansala's 'Planting of the First Cross'

We also visited the "PAMANA: Heritage of the Nation" which presents sketches and memorabilia of Fernando Amorsolo. Infront of the façade is the Hall of Masters (Bulwagan) presenting the works of Luna and Hidalgo. The big SPOLIARIVM amazed us and made us think how great Antonio Luna is. Just opposite the Spoliarium is Felix Hidalgo’s La Tragedia de Gobernador Bustamante (Assassination of Governor Bustamante and His Son). There were also lots of letters written in Spanish reminding us the influence of Spain to our civilization.
Antonio Luna's SPOLIARIVM.

The Museum was undergoing a major renovation during our visit so we weren’t able to see some of the exhibits. It was on our way out of the building when we realized that we visited the “National Gallery of Arts”.

We found out that the main National Museum is actually the “Museum of the Filipino People” located in the former Department of Finance building. The only time I went to this place was when we were required to visit the place as part of arts appreciation in our History class. I find it strange and a bit of shame to have not been visiting our very own museum, while I find time to explore other museums. In our two-hour tour, I never get bored, but just consistently captivated by the different artifacts which I only read on books, or cannot be even found in the book.

First, we entered a room which features the San Diego. It is a warship that sank in the sea of Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas in 1600. The said exhibit has been all around the world until it landed permanently in our National Museum. I was really startled on the artifacts that were recovered in the shipwreck site in 1992 which is nearly 400 years later. It includes cannons, porcelains, coins and katanas (swords). It also includes a life-like representation of the actual Archeological excavation of the wreck site in 1992. I am really proud of our museum presenting the artifacts in a modern way to keep it more interesting to the younger generation, by means of adding light effects and styles on every artifact.
SAN DIEGO (war ship) Wrecksite

On the middle of an open space, we found the Ifugao house  or the Ayangan House. The heavily thatched roof serves as protection against the rains and cold weather. It also includes a gallery called the “batalan” and the “silong” which was mentioned in our book.

On the second floor, we then again saw different jars and cannons which are a little bit typical already for a museum. We also saw a visual representation of the San Diego ship which made me realized that our ancestors had a brilliant mind and a great engineering skill even without a formal education. Who would have thought that the Filipino shipbuilders were able to construct a magnificent ship like that of San Diego?

This is also the first time I saw the Astrolabe (1590) which was used by the astronomers and navigators to predict the position of the sun, stars, moon and planets. It is also the first time that I saw the Manunggul Jar dated way back 890-710 B.C.

We roamed around “Kasaysayan ng Lahi” (Story of the Filipino People) located at the third floor. It describes the Geologic Theory stating that Philippine islands evolve through volcanic eruptions. The hall includes different Ages of Philippine History, like Age of Horticulture, Metal Age, Neolithic Period and Paleolithic Era. The Butuan Boat found in 1978 is also in display which provides proof of the ancient boat-building technology of the early Filipinos. During the study of the National Museum, this boat was made way back 990 AD, and as referred to as the “Balangay”.

On the other side of the hall were different jars, but the one that caught my attention were the Maitum jars which I remember, were featured in GMA 7’s show, “Philippine Treasures”. I got goose bumps as I look at the face at the top of the jar which may be a hint of how the ancient Filipinos look like.
From the left: Manunggul Jar, Astrolabe, Maitum Jar

On the third floor, we found a great traditional Filipino houses merged with modern designs. This is actually my favorite part of the tour. It is so incredible that they are able to put up a small Filipino village inside the building. The roofs were made of nipa, while the wall and the floor were made of woods. On each corner were displays of different artifacts during the Pre-Colonial period. It also included the Kulintang which is a xylophone of Southern Mindanao. I never expected the kulintang is big and colorful. Along with kulintang is the Masino and Basal and Kulilal Ensemble of Palawan. On the other side of the hall are the illustrations of Philippine education and the Philippine flag.

On the fourth floor, we were able to see pictures of different Catholic churches in Bohol which were built hundreds of years ago. It shows the evolution of Catholicism in the region and in the Philippines. The last hall we visited was the “Sanlaksang Buhay” which features the Philippine Biodiversity and the Flora and Fauna of Manila. It was the first time I saw a preserved Monkey-eating eagle caught in the act killing a monkey. There were also different fungi and aquatic animals preserved over time.


Our visit in the National Museum was a tiresome activity but it’s all worth it. The three-hour tour is time well-spent.  Some people may say that visiting a museum is one of the not-so-anticipated activities, but it provides us a mirror for our past… making it one of the best experience a person should have. On my visit to this museum, I realized a lot of things. Our past is a chest collection of gold, it should be kept and preserved. It is one way to make the generation of today, and the generations to come that we have a rich culture, a culture that can be boast around the world and a culture that we should be proud of. The Museum is our national heritage. It is a place people and tourist from around the world will come to visit; to see the window into our past. What image are we projecting to the outside world?  The National Museum answers them all.

In my visit, I became even prouder of being a Filipino. I realized that at least in my life, I was able to see where I come from. I was able to touch my past. I was able to smell the breeze of the ancient times. I was able to hear the rebellion of my fellow against the invading people. I was able to feel that I am indeed…. a Filipino. If only everyone will have the opportunity to visit the National Museum, all of us should have become better citizens.

The SAN DIEGO warship
I and Kristel infront of the National Museum

Ja, Keyzl and I posing at this loom-weaving equipment.


Kissing the SARIMANOK
Feeling fluent sa SPANISH. hahahhaa

The VIRGINS... hahaha
The Kubobels...

Catholicism in BOHOL.
I love HISTORY. :D

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