October is Museums and Galleries Month!
All month long, the National Museum opens its doors to the public for FREE.
In the wake of Heneral Luna's success, this is such a timely treat for Filipinos who want to relive our history and heritage through art and culture.

 This would make The Heneral proud for sure.

Have you been to our country's premiere museum? We got the chance to visit earlier this year.

Located in Ermita, the National Museum runs the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, and the National Planetarium. 

We were stoked to visit the National Museum of Fine Arts, which used to be the old legislative building back in the day. It was big, beautiful and ornate, reminiscent of the glory days when Manila was THE place to be in Asia.

Repairs and a new paint job were underway during our visit. I remember it being a Sunday, so entrance is free. Here are their regular rates according to their official website:

The curators of the museum seemed to waste no time in showcasing the country's art. Upon entry, they immediately greet you with the big guns:

Geez guys, give me some time to adjust to the masterpiece.
Juan Luna's Spoliarium is a sprawling painting that seemed to take all the room in the first floor. And I, taken unawares by the sheer beauty of the painting, could not help but break down in silent tears. Of pure, bleeping awe.

Murag malanay imung heart.

The pictures will never do justice. Nothing will ever compare to the feeling of first setting your eyes to this Luna masterpiece.


And then, after watching the historical epic Heneral Luna, I realized this was the closest that I can get in real life to the famed general who tried his damnest to keep the country together. To just be in the presence of something Heneral's brother made was---stirring, in a way that makes you realize that they---Antonio and Juan and Gregorio and Andres and Jose were real, and that the stories were once memories and that they fought for the very freedoms we're currently enjoying and taking for granted. Everything that happened was real, and should be remembered.

Geez. We aren't even in the second floor yet!

After the excitement and nation-loving rush of the first floor, the 2nd floor of the art gallery is muted but is still full of national art treasures.

There is a wing dedicated to the art of master manlililok Guillermo Tolentino.

Not familiar?

Okay, let's not have a Mabini situation here. :)

Guillermo Tolentino is the Filipino sculptor known for masterpieces like the famed Bonifacio Monument and the Oblasyon of the University of the Philippines, among other amazing things. According to Wikipedia, he was conferred as a National Artist by Ferdinand Marcos in 1973.

Simply put, this man is the badass of Philippine sculpture.

How does one transform a piece of wood or marble and turn it into something that very much resembles life?

There are busts of many a prominent figure in this wing, including some of the country's past presidents.

Check out the details on Magsaysay's barong:

His attention to the littlest, tiniest detail is beyond me. That is the mark of a true artist, for me.

Oh, hello there Macoy. 
Nganung sinaw imung agtang?

There is also a drawing by Tolentino called Liberty Granting Independence to Filipinas.

A smiling Lady Liberty hands down a flag to a little dalagita who eagerly accepts it. It is both beautiful and heartbreaking as a Filipino to see this. I don't know; it makes me sad for all the things we lost along the way to the so-called independence America "gave" us. For me, our dependence to other countries never truly left.

After all these years, we're still finding our way back to who we are.

Another wing is dedicated to modern paintings.

My photos are, kind of, uh, crap compared to the actual art itself. 
So here is one of my favorite Joya pieces.

Downstairs, more old-world glory in the grand columns and details.

This ceiling is art.

Before ending our tour of the art gallery, we took a detour and explored other nooks and crannies. It is a huge, ornate museum whose very fixtures are full of details and intricate designs.

Who will go down this staircase first? Jose Rizal or Leonardo diCaprio from Titanic?

Are you expecting to see anyone?

"Uh, I think it's the Pambansang Baeyani"


I mean, I'd take a Gregorio del Pilar to go any day! :)

If you are in Manila and would want to have a dose of culture, head on out with your friends and family to the National Museum. Entrance is free, guys!

It's as free as you and me. :)

The National Museum is located at Padre Burgos Drive, City of Manila, Philippines.

Vamonos, mga kapatid, igsuon ug silingan!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas,

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