Friday, September 08, 2017

Sunday afternoon with Juan Luna and other artists

Inspired by my friend's recent road trips, I had this urge to go and see some art last Sunday. As in, right that day itself, whether or not someone could go with me.

I am that type of person who enjoys going to museums rather than shopping malls, to my late mother's frustration. "Ayoko sa museum!" she said when we were in LA many years ago and were thinking of where to go. Whereas we could drop her off at the mall in the morning and pick her up at the end of the day, I was the person who would gladly spend a day at the museum while travel buddies snap up good buys at shopping areas.

So after attending the second worship service at church last Sunday, I drove all the way to the National Museum of the Philippines on P. Burgos Street near the Manila City Hall. Never mind if I just had an hour to spare to go around before I had to do the groceries. I just had to go, no matter what.

Sundays, I found out, is the best time to go to the National Museum since there is hardly any traffic, save for a slowdown near the Quiapo Church area.

Entrance to the museum is now free. Visitors have to register first and sign the logbook, then deposit their belongings (save for wallet and cellphone) at the security desk.

That Sunday, there were quite a number of people visiting, mostly families or couples on dates. I was one of the few who went solo. Well, this was me-time and I was looking forward to it.

With just a little over an hour to spare, I focused on my favorite old paintings at the National Museum of Fine Arts at the old Legislative Building. 

Entering the museum, the first huge painting I saw was the Spoliarium by Juan Luna. I have seen this before a number of times but it still left me in awe. Such mastery and skill. There was beauty in the pain depicted. I could spend an hour just looking at it. 

Opposite it was Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's The Assassination of Governor Bustamante, another huge oil painting done in the 1800s.

In the same hall was Guillermo Tolentino's sculpture Diwata, so perfect in its beauty.

In another hall, I found more of Juan Luna's iconic paintings, to my delight.

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Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo were buddies, and the museum had a large reproduction made of National Hero Jose Rizal's sketch of them.

At a room dedicated to Jose Rizal, I found this small terra-cotta sculpture our national hero did back in 1893.

A copy of the book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis given by Rizal to his wife Josephine Bracken was also on exhibit, together with the dedication.

In the hallway, I found this gem of a sculpture by Isabelo Tampinco.

There were many other paintings that struck a chord in me, such as those depicting the Battle of Manila, and the artworks of Fernando Amorsolo. There's indeed so much talent, so much beauty, in the Philippines.

Go spend a day (or an hour) at the museum. It's a great way to feed your heart and soul.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Someone gave me the book Agueda: A Ballad of Stone and Wind by Anna Maria "Bambi" Harper sometime ago but I only got to read it this year. Harper's writing is exquisite as she takes us to the world of an orphan who came of age during the transition from the Spanish colonial times to the American occupation. The book gives readers an idea of how women were regarded back then, and what life was like for both the upper class and the poor when the country had yet to experience real independence.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10