Wednesday, July 31, 2013

5 Not-To-Be-Missed Treasures at the National Museum

It's a shame that not more people visit the National Museum. They need to get over the notion that museums are old, stuffy and boring.

Certainly, the National Museum is quite old. It was once the Insular Museum of Ethnology, National History and Commerce, and on its steps Manuel L. Quezon himself declared the onset of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935. Its two major buildings housed entirely different things back then. The National Art Gallery was once the old Congress building, while the Museum of the National People used to the Finance Building.

But now, these two neo-classical structures have undergone renovations that have transformed them into bright, airy, modern spaces -- the first step in making the museum more accessible to the public.

And if you read on, this museum is anything but  boring. Some its most interesting displays include sunken treasures, the oldest skullcap in the Philippines and even a "cursed" painting. Here is a list of ten things that would make your visit to the National Museum, anything but typical.  

The Spoliarium by Juan Luna at the National Museum 

1. Spoliarium

Every Filipino schoolchild grew up learning about Juan Luna's  Spoliarium. They are taught that it is a magnificent painting, one that bested many other European entries during the Madrid Exposition of 1884. They would then see a photograph of this painting in their history textbooks, which --  as Filipino textbooks went -- would almost  always be in black-and-white. It would also be tiny  -- postcard-sized, at best.

And so, to behold this masterpiece, in all its gigantic,  4x7-meter glory, is truly breathtaking.  "It is more than a painting, it is a book, a poem" -- so goes a newspaper review, one among many  in Madrid, Paris and Barcelona, marvelling at the Spoliarium.

Juan Luna, who was as much a painter as he was a political activist, was able to capture the Philippines' struggle against colonial Spain through his vivid and compelling picture of men dragging other bloodied men across a dungeon a floor, as spectators looked on.

Jose Rizal, during a speech he delivered celebrating Luna's triumph said, "[The Spoliarium is a symbol] of our social, moral, and political life: humanity unredeemed, reason and aspiration in open fight with prejudice, fanaticism, and injustice."

See for yourself what Rizal was talking, when you go to the National Museum. You won't miss it -- it's the centerpiece in the Hall of Masters, located on the ground floor.

Beautiful Peoples' Passports

I wish I looked as beautiful  as the ladies in their passport photos. It's quite marvelous how photogenic they are.

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Q&A With A Miss Universe

Here is an excerpt from an interview I did with former Miss Universe and current Ballet Philippines President, Margie Moran.

Moran has a list of accomplishments that is as long as it is varied. "I've become Miss Universe, I completed a master's degree in Rural Development, I did a TV show, I did a movie, I published two books, I  produced  a documentary, I was in the hospitality industry, I worked in advertising, I worked in the arts, I worked with the poor... my spectrum is complete!" Moran enthuses.

All of this is remarkable, given that Moran was just 19 when success came knocking at her door. We've heard of one too many young people these days who've risen fast and fallen faster.

Moran credits her family for keeping her on the right track. "I had to promise my father that I would finish college. Because when I won Miss Universe, I was only in first year college. I think education is very important in giving you the foundation of a good future. So I finished college. And many, many years after I took my masters as well, in rural development from the University of London," she shares.

That she has led a good, full, and we can even say, charmed,  life is an understatement. But Moran takes it all in stride. She has the relaxed confidence and  easy grace, of a woman who has indeed learned to reign in her universe.

Aside from the many roles that she has played over the years, there is one more that she can't wait to fulfill. "The only thing I'm looking forward to now is having a grandchild," she laughs. Good thing her elder daughter, Monica, is getting married next year.

"I hope it's soon, " Moran smiles. "I don't want to be an old grandma."

 View the whole article by clicking this link. 

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