Posts Tagged ‘history’

pop goes the world: anthology

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  5 July 2012, Thursday


Last week I received a final “call for manuscripts” notice from University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication dean Dr. Rolando Tolentino, who is collecting critical, personal, popular, and creative non-fiction works for an anthology called “The Ballads of Malakas and Maganda: Marcosian and Imeldific Essays.”

This is a sequel to the “Mondo Marcos” volumes, published in 2010 and edited by Tolentino and veteran journalist Frank Cimatu.

Such a collection would be a significant addition to the histories and memoirs written about the period, a time of struggle and pain, a time that many young people do not know about.

If the stories of that time are unknown or forgotten, how will generations to come benefit from the lessons learned during that time?

Imelda Marcos’s 83rd birthday rolled around last July 2, with a concomitant barrage of posts on social media of pictures of her in the bloom of youth. The comments were mostly flattering, referring to her beauty and singing voice.

At the height of their power, she positioned herself as the semi-divine Maganda of Filipino creation myth, with Ferdinand Marcos as the counterpart Malakas.

Musician David Byrne, who in 2005 recorded a two-CD rock opera with Fatboy Slim called “Here Lies Love” revolving around the Imelda story, has blogged about Imelda’s deliberate assumption of this persona.

Having seen portraits of the Marcos couple in Malacañang, Ilocos, and Leyte, he wrote about their depiction as the “ur-couple of the Philippines…the strong man and the beautiful woman,” with Imelda cast as a “nurturing goddess.”

Many from Generation Y, the millenials, have never even heard of the Marcos couple, except as names in history books. Imelda is still a congresswoman, and even launched a fashion line in 2006 using her recycled belongings; she is known to the youth mostly as some sort of celebrity. Her legacy and that of Ferdinand – Martial Law – is shrugged off as a historical tidbit.

Those who were at the forefront of the struggle during the 1970s will never forget what they endured during Martial Law. One of them is lawyer Eduardo Araullo, who in his student years at UP was a member of the Left. He fought against the dictatorship with blood and bone and life and love laid on the line.

Imprisoned for acts of “subversion”, he recalls being doused with water from cannons, beaten by the military with bats and truncheons, hauled off to detention centers in handcuffs. He tends to downplay his experiences, saying he knew what he was in for.

He was twenty and in the underground when he was arrested by the Metrocom and taken to Camp Crame, where his father visited him. He was asked, “Kaya mo?”

“Kaya ko,” he answered.

Prison was boring, Attorney Ed recalls, and the inmates filled their time with games and sports – basketball, table tennis, Monopoly. He was not released until six months later. He went underground again, and later became a labor lawyer.

Why did he fight against martial law, I asked.

“Because it was wrong.”

What else had he been prepared to give up?

“I was ready to die.”

Would he do it again?


What did you learn?

“Stand up for what you believe in. It’s worth it.”

It is hard to elicit much from him beyond cerebral responses. I ask, “What did you feel?” Attorney Ed replies, “It was an intellectual exercise.”

Much remains locked inside him. I feel I can go no farther. He will not take me there.

I take my leave of him and wait by the curb for a ride.

He follows me, and whispers, “I still grieve for them, for those who died. I always remember.”

This and similar stories of those years should never be forgotten, because too much went into the weaving of them. Too many lessons were learned that need to be graven in our hearts. Too many people suffered and died for their legacy to be ignored.

If it takes books for us to remember or learn about those years, then we look forward to the publication of Tolentino and Cimatu’s forthcoming anthology.  *** 

taste more:

downton abbey mania

It’s escapist melodrama that does not hesitate to employ the cliched tropes of the genre, but there’s something about it that is fascinating and compelling. I spent the past week watching all the episodes – two seasons and a Christmas special – and can’t wait for the release in the fall of the third season, which will begin filming early this year.

“Downton Abbey” is a hit British TV series that has run two seasons, broken viewership records in the UK and the US, and reaped awards and nominations.

Promotional still showing the cast. Image here.

The action is set in a world long vanished, the world of the English aristocracy and the labor class that served them. It is familiar to those who read fiction set in that era, notably the works of detective fiction author Agatha Christie, who herself came from the privileged class and wrote what she knew, setting her books in the drawing rooms and conservatories of grand houses, her characters in a milieu of elegance and wealth enjoying a lifestyle that ended with World War I, which changed the economy and society.

Sometimes we need to escape into a different world, if only to recharge our spirits with something entirely removed from our own reality. This world’s as good as any to visit, if not better than most. The accents and the language alone are fascinating, and there are the fashion and interiors as well, mixed up with history lessons.

Watch it. Learn something. Prime your pump of creativity with something new, something out of the ordinary.

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rizal on life as a struggle

From my bookshelves: The First Filipino, a biography of Jose Rizal by Leon Ma. Guerrero (Guerrero Publishing, Manila: 1998)

Rizal is the Philippine’s national hero, a true Renaissance man – writer, physician, scholar, sculptor, farmer, amateur boxer, and much more besides. Along the way to his martyrdom at the hands of Spanish colonial forces in 1896, he found time to write two revolutionary novels, poetry, essays, and reams of correspondence,  perform eye surgery on his patients, and fall in love with several women scattered in different countries.

A replica of Casa Redonda, Rizal’s octagonal hut in Dapitan that served as his eye clinic. Image here.

From a letter Rizal wrote while in Dapitan to his nephew Alfredo Hidalgo:

Go ahead, then; study, study, and think over well what you have studied; life is a very serious matter, and only those who have brains and a heart have a good life. To live is to be among men, and to be among men is to struggle. But this struggle is not an animal, material struggle, nor is it a struggle only with other men; it is a struggle with them but also with one’s self, with their passions but also with one’s own, with errors and with anxieties. It is an eternal struggle, [which one must sustain] with a smile on one’s lips, and tears in the heart. In this battlefield, a man has no better weapon than his intelligence, no greater strength than that of his own heart.

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a bacolod childhood

I’ve previously posted an excerpt from my memoir-in-progress, about the year I spent in Bacolod City when I was eight years old. Here’s another portion from that section:

I loved it in the province. I lived in Lola Bennett’s sprawling bungalow in Taculing, close to where the airport used to be, on a hacienda planted to tubo as far as the horizon. This was during the late 1970s but even by present standards that house would look fresh and contemporary. Constructed in a gated area behind high walls across the road from her tubohan, it stuck out from its surroundings like a crystal in the mud.

The house was built in the center of a large pond, slightly raised on cement pillars above the knee-high level of the water. There was a bridge one had to cross to get over the water to the front door and I thought that was extremely interesting and stylish. I have not seen such a house before or since. Orange-colored carp swam in the pond; this was decades before raising koi became fashionable. After dinner Lola Bennett, silver-haired but still vigorous in her early 60s then, would take a piece of sliced bread and go out for her “daily exercise” as she termed it. We would walk several times around the house, tearing bits of bread off and casting them into the water for the carp. The fish would follow us around, and the water would boil frenziedly with their activity as they fought over the bread.

Lolo Maeng was Lola Bennett’s second husband; he married her when she was a widow, when they were middle-aged; they had no children of their own. I was the child Lolo never had. On Saturdays he would take me to a clinic in the city for my hormone growth shots that a doctor in Manila prescribed because I was short for my age. He’d drive his snappy little red-and-cream Renault 14 himself, going very fast down the dusty backroads with the windows down and the breeze blowing our hair back, his salt-and-pepper and cut military-style, mine trimmed like a boy’s. (I was not allowed to grow my hair long until I was in college.) “Do you think we’re driving too fast?” Lolo would ask. All I could ever answer was a frozen grin. He would laugh and step on the gas even harder, making me tighten my grip on the leather seat. There were no seatbelts back then. He would only slow down when we reached the city where the streets were crammed with people and jeeps.

After I got my shot, Lolo would stop by a suki for roasted peanuts. Sometimes we would halt at Lopue’s bookstore and he would buy me the latest Nancy Drew mystery and a Stabilo Boss highlighter. The highlighters only came in yellow and were a newfangled thing. I’d shade the o’s in my Nancy Drews as I read along and the sunshiny dots spangling the pages would show me how many pages were left to read. The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries were all hard-bound, as most of my other books were, the majority of them belonging to my mother; the only paperbacks I had were Enid Blyton stories.

Back home after a trip Lolo Maeng would take a large strainer and shake out all the salt from the peanuts and refill his garapon (an empty old jar of Nescafe coffee) that he kept in a cupboard in the “clean kitchen” of the house. (Food was cooked by kusineras in an outbuilding which housed the “dirty” kitchen and maids’ quarters. It was also where the ironing was done, with a weighty cast-iron plancha filled with glowing charcoal that I was absolutely forbidden to touch.) I was the only person allowed to share Lolo’s peanuts, and that made me feel special and loved. Come to think of it, maybe Lola just didn’t like peanuts at all.

Cane field image here. Renault 14 here. Adobong mani here.

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eggs, ketchup, and “moon river”

In our creative non-fiction writing class this semester, our professor Dr. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo challenged her eight students to come up with CNF narratives. These could be memoirs, travel writing, or other forms; we had to “pitch” our ideas to her first. If they passed muster, we were told to proceed with writing. PhD students like myself had to write a work no shorter than fifty pages. I pitched the idea of a memoir and have written 53 pages so far, with the work still unfinished.

It’s a work in progress. Here’s an excerpt from my chapter on Bacolod City, where I lived for a year when I was eight:

In Bacolod we ate a lot of chicken because Lola Bennett ran a huge poultry farm in addition to the sugar cane plantation. On a couple of visits the foreman gave me undersized hen’s eggs that didn’t pass their quality control inspections. I kept several of them under the bed in my room, right on the orange carpeting. Some months later one of the maids found them. She called my lola, lifted the bed skirt, and pointed to them without saying a word. My little collection was taken away. “Eggs are not toys,” I was told. Too bad. I liked those eggs, some of them as tiny as quail eggs with pebbly surfaces of calcium carbonate in raised and ridged patterns, random as nature makes it.  I was never taken to visit the poultry farm again after that.

My Bacolod nanny, Mila, was scolded over that incident for not watching me carefully enough to know that I was smuggling home rejected eggs. I don’t think she was with us when we visited the poultry farms; she wasn’t with me all the time, as far as I remember. I usually saw her at bath time, when she’d take me to my white-tiled bathroom off my bedroom, switch on the shower, and try to whip up a soapy lather in the hard water which ran out of the pipes. At first I resented her bathing me because I told her I had been giving myself baths in Manila since I was seven years old. She smiled and said, “Your lola told me to,” and we both knew there was no arguing after that. I came to love the way she wrapped me up in thick white towels and rubbed me dry, giving me a quick hug before letting go.

After the egg episode Yayay Mila whispered to me, “Nugay nga hampang sang pagkaon. (Don’t play with food.) I know other things you can do.”  One night she handed me her notebook, about the size of a pocketbook, hardbound, and filled with smooth creamy pages half-filled with her notes written in flowing cursive with a black fountain pen. She opened to a page and pointed to the title at the top – “Moon River”. “This is a beautiful song,” she said. “Memorize the words and learn it.” She sang it to me in a light soprano. “Moon river, wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style, some day…” I’ve associated that song with her ever since, although I have forgotten what she looked like. I wonder if she ever did find and cross her own moon river.

I deeply admired her notebook – all I had for school were the usual ruled spiral notebooks with thin cardboard covers and cheap paper – but I never thought to ask if she could get me one. Now I know what it is like – a Moleskine notebook – and the memory of this may explain why my stationery drawer is crammed with Moleys of different sizes.

Another time she took me out into the garden, bearing a basin of soapy water. She made for a gumamela bush, plucked a handful of its glossy leaves, and showed me how to pound the leaves in the soapy water with a rock. Making ‘o’s with our hands, we blew bubbles that were strong and did not easily pop, even when poked by leaves or sticks. I pealed with laughter, and for most of that afternoon blew myriads of rainbow bubbles into being, sending them down the garden path and up into the air to bounce in the light, as Yayay Mila beamed.

Mila also took care of feeding me. I was fed – usually with scrambled or sunny-side up eggs for breakfast, for lunch and dinner fried chicken and rice, no ketchup – in the “clean kitchen” off the dining area, which was furnished with 1950s-style folding metal chairs with red leather seats – a set of four – and a matching table. That kitchen was painted white and was always very very clean, since nothing was actually cooked there. That room glows in my mind, always flooded with light, because a screen door at one end let sunshine in during the day. Through it I could see coconut trees, ornamental plants, and the Bermuda grass of lola’s well-kept lawn. Green and white and brown are the colors I associate with Bacolod – the colors of sun and earth and garden and fried chicken.

Nowadays I can’t get enough ketchup.

Images: Egg in hand here. Ketchup here. Gumamela (hibiscus) here.

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homes filipino style

From my bookshelves: Filipino Style (Archipelago Press, Singapore: 2007). With photographs by Luca Invernizzi Tettoni and Tara Sosrowardoyo; text by Rene Javellana, Fernando Nakpil Zialcita, and Elizabeth V. Reyes.

The book cover shows Philippine-style Art Nouveau decorations and furniture in the ancestral Bautista- de los Santos house in Malolos, Bulacan, “built in 1812, painted in tendrils and foliage in 1877, and re-conceived in Art Nouveau terms at the turn of the century.”  Art Nouveau, which was popular from the end of the 1800s until the 1930s, enjoyed a longer run here than in Europe. The style gave way to Art Deco in the 1930s.

First published in 1997, this book gives brief overviews of Filipino architectural and interior design style. Beautiful photographs make the articles come alive. Most notable are the spreads on bahay-na-bato of the 19th century, perhaps the architectural style most suited to the tropical climate. Such homes are characterized by certain elements: a stone or cement first floor, where horses were stabled and carriages kept; and a wooden second floor, the living area. Wide windows were covered by capiz-and-wood shutters; more windows below the sill, called ventanillas, ensured that practically the entire living area could be opened up to cooling breezes.

From the first floor, a polished and gleaming wooden staircase swept up to the open-plan second floor, designed that way to allow the free flow of air. Areas such as the drawing room (sala) and dining room were marked off by carpets and by arrangements of furniture. Wooden floors bounced light off their shiny surfaces, creating the illusion of  wide spaces. A mesa altar for religious images was prominently displayed. Bedrooms featured four-poster beds and elaborately-carved aparadors, almarios (pillow racks), and dressers. Walls often had filigreed transoms to allow the passage of air (and light and sound) through all the rooms of the house. Furniture was of carved wood, the styles imitated from Europe, but the seats, rather than being stuffed with horsehair and covered with dark fabric as in Victorian England, were covered with solihiya (woven cane), making them cooler, lighter, and airier.

From the chapter “Traditional Houses”, by Fernando Nakpil Zialcita:

Another aspect of Filipino style has yet to be recognized. This is what I call “a fondness for the translucent”. Filipino creations love to half-reveal and half-conceal forms and colors. Capiz windows pretend to block off the outside world but actually reveal aspects of it. Capiz catches the shadow of a branch swaying outside. The moods the shell panels create change as the sun passes; at one moment, they are quiet and still; at another they shimmer like the sea at noon. The oily smoothness of the wooden floors, often uncarpeted, reflect changes in the light and give the visitor a sense of walking on water.

Similarly the cloth favored for the upper garments of the national dress for men and women is made of translucent, rather than opaque, materials: sinamay is made from loosely-woven abaca, jusi is made from Chinese silk and pineapple, piña from pineapple gauze. The barong Tagalog delicately reveals the torso, while at the same time concealing it. Hre, as in the wood-and-stone house, the Filipino fondness for open tracery, called calado, adds elegance while daring the eye to explore the field.

The facade of Casa Manila in Intramuros. This is a bahay-na-bato turned into a museum and is a must-see.

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elegance and beauty in ancient japan

From my bookshelves: The Pillow Book (Makura no soshi) by Sei Shonagon (Penguin Books, London: 2006).

As a creative writer I am more comfortable writing non-fiction rather than fiction, and as a reader I find myself drawn to CNF books such as memoirs and biographies. In order to study the genre I’ve built up a collection of representative works, and this one is among my favorites.

Written by Sei Shonagon, one of the most lettered women of her time, the book reveals the mannered, elegant world of the court in 11th century Japan during the Heian period.

Shonagon was a woman of delicate taste and deep aesthetic sensibilty; the sight of an autumn leaf would send her into paroxysms of rapture. What set her apart from others of equally sensitive nature was her intelligence and immense writing talent, that allowed her to set down her thoughts into a work that is regarded as one of the gems of world literature.

The Pillow Book is written in diary format, but contrary to the popular definition of ‘diary’ as a private exercise to be seen only by the writer, Shonagon knew from the start, after she was given the gift of paper (see excerpt image above) that it would be seen by the public.

She was one of the stars of Queen Teishi’s court, invited to join it for the high esteem people gave her learning, wit, and talent as a poet. Teishi had assigned Shonagon to come up with a work that would show the accomplishments of her court, as opposed to the second consort Queen Akiko’s, which boasted another highly regarded writer, Murasaki Shikibu (author of the Tale of Genji).

Much of The Pillow Book is in the form of lists:

[84] Things of elegant beauty – A slim, handsome young gentleman of noble birth wearing court dress.
A pretty girl dressed somewhat casually…
A bound book of fine paper.
A letter on fine green paper, tied to sprig of willow covered in little leaf buds.
A three-layer fan. A five-layer fan is too thick, and the base looks ugly.
Long stems of sweet flag, laid elegantly on a cypress-bark roof that’s neither too new nor too old, are wonderfully fresh and green to the eye…
A charming cat with a white tag on her red collar walking along by the railing of the veranda beyond the blinds, trailing her long leash behind her, is also a lovely and very elegant sight…
A knotted letter of violet paper, with a long cluster of wisteria blossom attached…

[143] Things that make the heart lurch with anxiety – Watching a horse-race. Twisting up a paper hair-binding cord…
Your heart naturally lurches when you hear the voice of your secret lover in an unexpected place, but the same thing happens even when you hear someone else talking about him. It also lurches when someone you really detest arrives for a visit.
Indeed the heart is a creature amazingly prone to lurching. It even lurches in sympathy with another woman when the next-morning letter from a man who stayed with her for the first time the night before is late in arriving.

[160] Things that are far yet near – Paradise. The course of a boat. Relations between men and women.

taste more:

ha-ha history

From my bookshelves: The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp through Civilization’s Best Bits, by Eric Sass and Steve Wiegand (Harper: 2008).

Trivia magazine Mental Floss says learning history can be fun, with their humorous take on facts and figures from across time and space.

As Erik Sass (now that’s a name, snort) says in his introduction, “We know that 99% of “history”, as they teach it, is mind-numbingly boring. And we’re sorry about that; we can’t change what happened in your youth. But this book is about to make history, by making history interesting.”

Here’s something that’s relevant to the present time, given that it’s become a meme in popular culture:

Maya Borrow Your Calendar?

Although the Maya have become famous for having developed an incredibly accurate calendar, they should be thrice as famous: they actually developed three calendars.

One was the “Long Count”, which started when they believed this version of the world began, on August 13, 3114 BCE. The Long Count calendar is slated to end on December 21, 2012. More on that in a bit.

The Tzolkin calendar was based on thirteen twenty-day periods called kals, which represented the time it took to prepare a cornfield or plant  and harvest it….

Since neither of these calendars squared with the time the Maya knew it took for the earth to complete its yearly cycle around the sun, they came up with the Haab calendar, which was eighteen months of twenty days each, plus a five-day period called the uayeb tacked on at the end…

Incidentally, various alarmists and people with not enough to worry about cite the date December 21, 2012, the end of the Long Count calendar, as the date of the end of the world. Most Mayan scholars disagree as to whether that was what the Mayans were predicting, but it’s still a great fact for terrorizing any of your more gullible friends.

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shopping in 15th century baghdad

From my bookshelves: Tales from the Arabian Nights (Avenel Books, New York: 1978), a selection of the choicest stories from The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night (Alf Laylah Wa Laylah) translated by Sir Richard Burton and privately published in 16 volumes in London in 1885-88.

I bought this for fifty pesos, which was my Christmas money I think, on 9 December 1982 at the now-defunct Alemar’s bookstore in Makati. I had just turned 15 and at the time it was the most expensive book I owned. This volume is a limited edition run and contains illustrations from the 1859 edited edition of the EW Lane translation.

Editor David Shumaker says in the foreword that the tales, while spoken of as early as 944 by Mas’udi, may have been collected in Cairo by a professional storyteller in the 15th century and recast in the form familiar to us now – of the clever princess Shahrazad avoiding death by telling a story each night to King Shahryar.

From the story “The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad”, a description of a shopping expedition to the market:

…she stopped at a fruiterer’s shop and bought from him Shami apples and Osmani quinces and Omani peaches, and cucumbers of Nile growth, and Egyptian limes and Sultani oranges and citrons; besides Aleppine jasmine, scented myrtle berries, Damascene nenuphars, flower of privet and camomile, blood-red anemones, violets, and pomegranate-bloom, eglantine and narcissus, and set the whole in the Porter’s crate, saying, “Up with it.”

So he lifted and  followed her till she stopped at a grocer’s, where she bought dry fruits and pistachio-kernels, Tihamah raisins, shelled almonds and all wanted for dessert, and said to the Porter, “Lift and follow me.”

So he up with his hamper and after her till she stayed at the confectioner’s, and she bought an earthen platter, and piled it with all kinds of sweetmeats in his shop, open-worked tarts and fritters scented with musk and “soap-cakes”, and lemon-loaves and melon-preserves, and “Zaynab’s combs”, and “ladies’ fingers”, and “Kazi’s tit-bits” and goodies of every description; and placed the platter in the Porter’s crate….

Then she stopped at a perfumer’s and took from him ten sorts of waters, rose scented with musk, orange-flower, water-lily, willow-flower, violet and five others; and she also bought two loaves of sugar, a bottle for perfume-spraying, a lump of male incense, aloe-wood, ambergris and musk, with candles of Alexandria wax…until she stood before the greengrocer’s, of whom she bought pickled safflower and olives, in brine and in oil; with tarragon and cream-cheese and hard Syrian cheese…

The device of using lists to add description, depth, or provide background to a story was also used to great effect by many other writers in both fiction (for instance, Oscar Wilde in his collection of original fairy tales, The House of Pomegranates, 1891) and non-fiction (Sei Shonagon in her memoir The Pillow Book, 1002).

The Arabian Nights tales are exotic and bawdy, set in a time and land so far removed from our own that many of the references would be incomprehensible if it weren’t for the footnotes Burton thoughtfully provided. Yet the themes – of love and betrayal, passion and pleasure, heroism and humor – are archetypal and resonate to the present day.

taste more:

philippine art at the ayala museum

Residents of Makati City are fortunate to have not one, but two top-class museums in the central business district. I visited the Yuchengco Museum with my PhD classmates and our professor a couple of months ago, enjoyed the experience very much, and decided to take my offspring on a trip to the other one – the Ayala Museum in Greenbelt Park.

The Zobel de Ayala family, a prominent one in Philippine business and society, are generous patrons of the arts; some members of the clan are artists themselves, notably Fernando Zobel (painting) and Jaime Zobel (photography). To sh0wcase and store their art collections, mostly of Philippine provenance, the family established this museum, a venue for sharing their beautiful possessions with the public.

The facade. The museum is connected by first- and second-floor walkways to Greenbelt mall at Ayala Center.

Painted metal sculptures grace the front courtyard.

The guards at the museum advised us to start our tour at the top floor, where tradeware in an array of colors was displayed – blue-and-white, celadon, and brown-and-white among them. There were many pottery items whose uses and functions seem strange to us now – tiny water droppers that barely hold a quarter cup of liquid and miniscule dishes among them. Other artifacts are now made in other materials, such as pen boxes.

Porcelain jars. Image from here.

After our tour of the porcelain, museum guards directed us to a dimly-lit section barred with steel. We entered with trepidation, and were told to sit in front of a dark screen. A switch was flipped, lights, sound, and video came on, and we were treated to a wonderfully-produced, well-written documentary – “Gold of Ancestors”. I won’t spoil it by giving away the narrative – I highly recommend you go see it.

After the show, more lights came on and we made the rounds of display cases filled with gold objects – jewelry, funerary masks, containers. By far the most spectacular piece was something that looked like a belt. From the flyer “Gold of Ancestors: Pre-Colonial Treasures in the Philippines”, written by Dr Florina H. Capistrano-Baker: “A magnificent gold halter…weighing almost four kilograms, is believed by some to be an upavita, or sacred thread. In traditional Hindu society, only members of the elite Brahmin class were entitled to wear an upavita after a purification ritual.”

The Sacred Thread: a magnificent item of jewelry, and a work of art. Image from here.

There were also paintings by Amorsolo and Luna. Of course my favorite was Luna’s “Lady at the Racetrack”.

Image from here.

We saw many other beautiful things in the museum’s collections – an exhibit of 19th century daily wear, heavily embroidered and quaintly tailored; a full suit of Jose Rizal’s everyday clothes; carabao horn salakots and top hats; intricate models of galleons and other sailing ships; and other curios.

Unfortunately, museum rules strictly prohibit photography of the collections and exhibits, which is very frustrating and annoying since other museums such as Yuchengco and the Getty and LACMA in Los Angeles allow it in certain areas. Ayala Museum even forbids photos in the lobby! Visitors who want a souvenir can only pose in front of a bizarre display of unrelated and not-to-scale stand-up figures off to one side of the lobby.  We hope the museum administrators will soon rethink this policy.

A visit to the museum’s gift shop yielded bookmarks, a tote bag, books, a metal pencase, and other little treasures. It’s a great way to spend a geekend afternoon.

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