Jan 2009
Art & Inspiration, interior design
Frozen in Time
a peek into Philippine prehistory

a peek into Philippine prehistory

Filipinos may not be a museum-going lot but it isn’t stopping anyone from putting up museums to encourage people to start visiting and start learning more about their heritage. Last weekend, we had a chance to visit one of the relatively newer museums in town, the Light and Sound Museum in Intramuros, Manila.

It is a nondescript building located along Calle Victoria, and sits on what was once a Beaterio or a convent during the Spanish and American era. Although, the original structure may not have withstood the test of time, the museum was built to replicate the old convent, at least as far as the exterior walls go. Inside, however, is another matter.

At best, the museum is a decent attempt by the government to put up more cultural establishments in the country. The architecture and design of the lobby may not amount to anything much, neither telling people of the history of the place nor striving to bring anything new or of interest to the table with its rather blah state, but once inside the galleries, we can give its founders a point for their effort to make history more interesting.

the first Philippine hero, Lapu-Lapu

the first Philippine hero, Lapu-Lapu, cast in bronze

No, there are no painting or artworks by the masters here in this museum. Rather are visitor go through galleries and vignettes that depict very specific periods in Philippine history. The brief history lesson start with Philippine prehistory and move on to a lengthy overview on the Spanish colonization and the valiant efforts of Philippine heroes to thwart the imperial power focusing on the life and works of Rizal.

a vignette depicting polo y servicios or forced labor

a vignette depicting polo y servicios or forced labor

The museum helps people (especially those with short attention span) to relate to history on a visual and sometimes almost physical level through video, lighting, set design and animatronics. History buffs may not find the content any different from what is taught in schools but the presentation can be at times, engaging.


a vignette depicting the publishing office of La Solidaridad

a vignette depicting the publishing office of La Solidaridad

The tour, however, conspicuously skips (leaps even) certain parts of our history, including that of the American and Japanese Occupation and contemporary history. Save for a video montage, contemporary history was reduced to scenes that showed all three EDSA revolts, and which showed prominently the faces of the more popular politicians of our time including of course, President Arroyo, Cory Aquino, and Dick Gordon…we wonder why.

The tour was followed by a short lecture by Dr. Fernando Zialcita, the director of Cultural Heritage in Ateneo de Manila University on the contextualization of history.

The Light and Sound Museum tour is organized by Youth Trip, an NGO geared to the promotion of Philippine culture and heritage.

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