With the rapid construction of new condos, malls, and town centers in Manila, it’s refreshing to still find and even be able to explore a structure like the National Museum of the Philippines.
Not only has this building withstood the test of time, it has also been quietly serving its purpose: to preserve and proudly showcase some of the most valued artifacts that represent the cultural heritage of the Filipinos.
Yet it seems not very many of us have taken the time to visit the National Museum.
In fact, according to Mr. Nebuchadnezzar Vendivil of the National Museum, they received about 6,000 visitors last month. That translates to just about 300 visitors per day or about 37 visitors per hour. Compare that to the long lines Tim Ho Wan has been getting daily.
While the National Museum patiently waits for more visitors, we hope these 5 reasons convince you to drop by and learn more about our country!
1. It’s cheap and sometimes even free to visit!
For the price of a grande Starbucks Mocha Frappucino, you can have access to a collection of 1,032 fine art pieces spanning from the 18th century up to the 21st century, a collection of archeological pieces including the 3,000-year-old Manunggul Burial Jar and a crazy number (337,983 specimens from birds to corals) of natural history pieces.
Entrance fee for adults is ₱150. Senior citizens get a discounted price of ₱120 while students only have to pay ₱50.
2. Because you have to see the Spoliarium up close.
Unlike the Louvre’s Mona Lisa, the National Museum’s Spoliarium will not disappoint you by its size. It is after all, the largest painting in the Philippines.
Made by Juan Luna in Rome in the year 1884 as an entry to the Exposicion de Bellas Artes (Madrid Art Exposition), it shows a scene from the Roman Colosseum’s exit room called “Spoliarium.” The Spoliarium is where the injured or dead gladiators are taken after performing.
In Luna’s painting, you’ll see injured gladiators being dragged in by the Romans as the main highlight, spectators seemingly cheering them on to the left, and the somber mood of an old man and a weeping woman on the right. Add in the massive size of the painting and you’ll quickly see the brutality it wants to convey.
3. It has undergone renovations and even has new collections!
If the first two reasons still don’t convince you to go, how about the fact that the museum was renovated just 2 years ago to appeal to more visitors?
With a ₱20-million budget, they restored the Old Senate Session Hall to its prewar glory. For those who skipped this part of their Philippine History class, the National Museum used to house both the House of Representatives and the Senate up until 1986 and 1996 respectively.
They also renovated old galleries and added new ones. Now you’ll find the renovated Rizal Room which features sculptures of Dr. Jose Rizal, one of which is a declared National Cultural Treasure, busts and paintings of the National Hero and even his very own drawing. They also added the Ecclesiastical Art Hall that houses Philippine religious art, including paintings and “santos” (carved religious images) from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
On top of that, they also added a gallery dedicated to National Artist Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco, one that’s devoted to Esteban Villanueva of Vigan, another that contains sketches and memorabilia of Fernando Amorsolo, and many others featuring celebrated Filipino artists.
4. It’s conveniently located near other cultural attractions.
The National Museum of the Philippines is located at the heart of historic Manila. This means you can easily cap a productive day by going to other nearby attractions.
Continue exploring museums by heading to the Museo Pambata or checking out the Manila Ocean Park near Manila Bay. Another option would be to just simply walk back in time in the streets of Intramuros.
If you just want to eat or perhaps end your trip with a food adventure, hit up Binondo afterwards and have a taste of authentic Chinese food.
5. Because it’s over 100 years old.
A structure that has lived this long definitely deserves respect.
This coming October 29, 2014, the National Museum of the Philippines will celebrate its 113th anniversary. Can you imagine that?
Officially established when the Philippines was still under the American Insular Government, the National Museum has seen the Philippines and its 14 presidents, beginning with former President Manuel L. Quezon.
The National Museum of the Philippines has been around for a long time and has gone through many things – from destruction to reconstruction to renovation.
We hope more young Filipinos can appreciate its history and role in the preservation of our culture and heritage as a people.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/nationalmuseumofthephilippines
Office hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesdays to Sundays.
Free admission on Sundays.