(SPOT.ph) Reading up on Philippine history—especially when we were just doing it to pass high school—can be taxing. There were a lot of theories, proven and not, on how the Philippine archipelago first came to be inhabited. (Who can forget the Negrito, Indones, and Malay chapters in our history books?) There were also pages and pages on our country’s colonization and, eventually, the continuous fight for democracy. It can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know which book to use or which account to look at. Museo Filipino hopes to give everyone a snapshot of this long history through a gallery of infographics, as well as an audio-visual presentation. It officially opened on December 10 at the sixth floor of JS Contractor Building in Intramuros, Manila.
"We went to a lot of museums here [in Intramuros]. Basically, there was a lack of museum that would give you a bird's eye view of the whole history," museum owner Atty. Katrina Borra tells SPOT.ph. Fort Santiago and the Bagumbayan Light and Sound Museum focus on the life of Jose Rizal, Bahay Tsinoy provides an in-depth look at the life and culture of the Filipino-Chinese, and Museo de Intramuros houses religious artifacts as a glimpse into the Spanish influence on our culture. Museo Filipino hopes to condense all these parts of our country’s story and "give you an idea of [Philippine] history in just 30 minutes," adds Borra’s husband, Alvaro Prieto-Sanchez Lopez.
The experience starts as soon as you get off the elevator on the building’s fifth floor. Photographs of Intramuros’ most important destinations, such as San Agustin Church and the Manila Cathedral, are hung on the stairway leading to the next floor. Then, panels packed with information (and backed up by research!) line the corridor leading to the roofdeck. This look back goes all the way to the "People of the Philippines," which also includes info on the latest discovery of rhinoceros bones in Kalinga, Rizal, in 2014.
The rest of the museum goes into other notable moments in our history: the American occupation and Japanese regime, the lesser-known British occupation and Dutch attacks, Ferdinand Marcos' imposition of Martial Law, the bloodless People Power Revolution, and post-EDSA leadership from former President Corazon Aquino to current President Rodrigo Duterte. Museo Filipino also features Filipino heroes, like Julian Felipe, composer of the national anthem; revolutionary leader Gabriela Silang; and General Miguel Malvar through colorful boxes stacked in the center of the gallery.
The new attraction also features a café called Intramuros Rooftop, which serves light meals perfect for guests looking for a quick break during their tours within the Walled City. After 30 minutes of history, it would be nice to relax and watch a 10-minute video clip about the famous EDSA Revolution. You also get a free cup of coffee.
But Museo Filipino’s narrative doesn’t end there. It’s now up to guests to explore more—either through Google or at nearby museums—about Philippine history. Imagine it as a table of contents, and this thick volume is just about to start.
Museo Filipino is at 6/F JS Contractor Building, 423 Magallanes Street, Intramuros
Manila. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission fee is at P100 for regular guests and P80 for students. For more information, follow Museo Filipino on Facebook.