This was a trip Kuya Toney Sevilla and I did not pass up. Last November 18, we visited the National Museum!
A little side story: Kenneth, Paolo and I have been to the National Museum three weeks prior, but it was not the National Museum we had in mind. We actually visited the Museum of the Filipino People (MFP), one of the three National Museum buildings around Rizal Park. Across the road was the National Art Gallery (the main museum, our actual destination), but somehow, we didn’t check it out.
(Oh, I remember now: we got out of MFP at around 4PM. No time left.)
Kuya Toney should have been with us on that day, but work (Sunday work, at that) wouldn’t allow him. He still would go to work after this trip of ours, but the important thing is, he and I finally get to step foot in the National Art Gallery, a historical landmark and “the Louvre of the Philippines”.
Seventy-seven years ago, on November 15, 1935, on that stage/pedestal is where the Commonwealth of the Philippines was inaugurated. Pres. Manuel Quezon and Vice Pres. Sergio Osmeña, who now both “stand tall” as statues beside the Gallery entrance, were sworn in here.
The building itself was also the former Legislative Building, housing both the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress, until the Senate moved to Pasay City and the House of Representatives moved to Quezon City.
It is now the home of Juan Luna’s famous painting, Spoliarium, restored to and showcased in its full glory.
We had an Art Appreciation class in college. For Kuya Toney and I, this National Art Gallery trip is an extension of it. xD
Nearly 20 galleries are there, and numerous artworks are on display. From Juan Luna to Carlos Francisco, from tapestry to sculptures, from animal bones to old Session halls, the National Museum is a history buff’s heaven, and an art lover’s haven.
I may not be an artist, but I personally got to “gawk at” numerous paintings and notice patterns in their work. I was introduced to new names, but by just looking at their masterpieces, it seems that I have known them for a long time.
For example, Hermenegildo Ocampo was fond of shapes and the colors of fire. Ang Kiukok’s paintings (or at least the ones I saw) were “teeming” with fishes. Some of Ben Cabrera’s works convey dark emotions.
I was also re-introduced to some artists, too. Fernando Amorsolo, one of Kuya Toney’s favorite artist, liked to paint scenes of the country side. There were many drawing and sketches by Amorsolo displayed in one gallery, too. Juan Luna, Felix Hidalgo, and Vicente Manansala (I think) had numerous portraits, from Fr. Mariano Gomez of GOMBURZA, to Pres. Manuel Roxas.
There’s this cool quadtych by Carlos “Botong” Francisco for the Philippine General Hospital that featured the progress of medicine in the Philippines. This was easily my favorite, because you can look at every corner and area in each of the four huge paintings, and you’ll never run out of things to discover.
With Kuya Toney around, I got to have crash courses on art, and had a chance to pick his brains, too. I learned new terms such as the triptych, and got to know how sculptors create artworks out of plaster of Paris. We got to have lots of wacky “photoshoots”, too. xD
As a Filipino, it makes me proud that we are actually prolific in the world of art.
Also, it never ceases to amaze me that a style as simple as an oil “splatter” on a canvas would convey depth and texture, evoke emotions, and tell a story.
My respect and admiration for painters, sculptors, tapestry weavers and other artists was set even higher after seeing these artworks. I could only imagine the hardwork they put in each of their masterpieces, however big or small.
A visit to the National Museum is a trip every Filipino should have in their lifetime. As the saying goes in Filipino, “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan.”