Rediscover Filipino culture with a visit to the National Museum in Manila

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By Marjorie Gorospe

MANILA CITY, METRO MANILA–Spending a day at the National Museum is like getting reacquainted with the rich art and culture of Filipinos.

Just recently, my colleagues and I visited the museum. I have been there before but it is good to see that the museum have so much to offer not only to foreigners but also to Filipinos.

The National Museum of the Philippines is divided into three buildings; the National Art Gallery, the Planetarium, and the Museum of the Filipino People.

The Museum of the Filipino People houses the arts and national treasures of the country before it was colonized. One of the prominent art works you shouldn’t miss is the manunggul jar which we only see on text books and on the P1000 bill.

The cover of the jar is noted for its design of a boat with two human figures that represent souls on a journey to the afterlife.

You should also check out the Maitum anthropomorphic burial jar, said to be the only intact burial jar with two arms, nipples, navel, and male sex organ.

According to National Museum marketing officer Charisse Aquino-Tugade, the many pre-colonial artworks prove that our ancestors are excellent artists even without the influence of other ruling country.

“Compared to other Asian countries, our artworks are mostly created with purpose like the manunggul jar,” she says.

Visitors can also look at the Pinagmulan and Kinahinatnan Galleries to discover how Filipino culture evolved through the years.

The Museum of the Filipino People also houses writings from Pala’wan/Tagbanua/Hanunuo/, which are still being used by the some indigenous groups, the woven costumes like the tinalak.

The San Diego Gallery, meanwhile,  houses items from the San Diego Wreck Site off Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The National Art Gallery houses over 150 paintings of the great Juan Luna including his most popular piece the Spoliarium.

Aside from Luna’s works, you can also see the pencil sketches and paintings of national artist Fernando Amorsolo. The art gallery also has a dedicated space for the country’s national artists.

“A day is not even enough for you to see all the cool things at the museum. People should know that our museum is a working museum which means that we also have scientists who continue to discover new things everyday and they are just working down here,” says Charisse.

There are tour guides to accommodate museum visitors. Instead of spending a day walking at the mall, you can spend your day with your family here for free on Sundays.

The National Art Gallery is free for the whole summer. The three buildings are open everyday except on Mondays.

We weren’t able to visit the Planetarium yet and we haven’t also finished seeing the works of art on display. Which means we will definitely go back.

Get more information about the National Museum of the Philippines

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marcial bonifacio says:

i just visited the national museum last week and the experience i got was life changing. i learned a lot about our country’s rich history. sadly, when i went out i saw lots and lots of garbage within the compound of the national museum. is improper garbage disposal the new culture of Filipinos? i hope visitors to the national museum (and around the country) would dispose of the garbage properly to show respect to our culture and heritage. ty