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Revisiting Galleries and Museums

The country has numerous museums welcoming visitors. For Thomasians, these are only some that are nearby and very accessible. Let’s get ready to discover galleries and the astounding visuals they have to offer. 

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Artwork by Aldrich Aquino

Do you remember the rush of excitement in marching towards the museum and happily lining up in the entrance to see what it looks like inside? The memories might be fleeting but the feeling remains. After all these years, museums still invoke curiosity and wonder.

Every month of October, we are encouraged to revisit the museums all around the country. This month celebrates the Museums and Galleries and is intended to kindle national consciousness in the Filipino; promoting the nation’s rich and distinctive culture, heritage, and national identity embodied in the form of art and cultural, historical, and religious artifacts.

The country has numerous museums welcoming visitors. For Thomasians, these are only some that are nearby and very accessible. Let’s get ready to discover galleries and the astounding visuals they have to offer. 

National Museum of Natural History

museum-of-natural-history

Photo from Rappler

 

One of the most visited museums in the metro and also the largest museum in the Philippines, the National Museum of Natural History puffs its hint of modern architecture mixed with its rich heritage and collection of numerous artifacts.

Located at Teodoro F. Valencia Circle, Ermita, Manila. It opens it doors from 10:00AM to 5:00PM every Tuesday to Sunday. The newly reformed museum boasts a pristine atrium where the “The Tree of Life” rises in the center. Extending upwards, the skydome acts as a natural lightsource. It has now hosted numerous tourists and fellow Filipinos alike. Visitors can ogle on the beautifully designed halls and displays that consist of many artifacts and paintings.

Roaming around the alluring space of the museum, it would instantly make you realize that it is jam packed with literally everything—from marine life to biology to botany, the possibilities are endless. It shows the exquisiteness of our world, engaging us to become more interested in the life that exists around us.

National Museum of Fine Arts 

Photo from National Museum

Amidst the busy streets of Manila, peace can be found at the National Museum of Fine Arts located at Padre Burgos Drive, Manila. It opens at 10:00AM to 5:00PM from Tuesday to Sunday. One of the most famous paintings in the country’s history is displayed in the first floor lobby—Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. The enormous piece could be found hanging on a wide wall, being admired by anyone who enters.

Aside from the Spoliarium, the museum also showcases the works of famous painters such as Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and Fernando Amorsolo. Aspiring artists, art lovers, or just casual viewers of art will find this museum a safe haven.

Ayala Museum

ayala-museum

Photo from Ayala Museum

Located in the city of business and industry, the Ayala Museum can be found at Makati Ave. cor. Dela Rosa St., Makati City and opens during 9:00AM to 6:00PM from Tuesday to Sunday.

The museum boasts as a major destination for school field trips, showcasing the country’s history from prehistoric times until the EDSA Revolution in 1986. The museum keeps a large number of rare artifacts that aren’t found elsewhere in the Philippines. The display of Philippine History enraptures its visitors—especially the Maritime Vessels Collection that pays tribute to a variety of ancient ships. A collection of pre-Hispanic items are worth looking at as well.

The museum also holds a lot of exhibitions, talks, workshops and even concerts which strengthens the museum’s goal in uplifting the Philippine arts, history, and culture scene vibrant.

Intramuros’ Museums and Galleries

 

Aside from the beauty that Intramuros radiates because of its history, there is more to it than just aesthetics. Its sites and museums houses the pieces and artworks that are part of the walled city’s rich past. 

You can start a museum hopping adventure around the area by starting from the Intramuros and Rizal Bagumbayan Light and Sound Museum which uses images, sounds, and animatronics to tell the history of the Philippines when it was colonized by Spain. 

Following that is Casa Manila Museum which also depicts the Spanish colonial lifestyle and how it influenced the Filipinos back then. The San Agustin Church is a UNESCO Heritage Site and its museum takes pride as well on its religious relics, wooden and ivory statues, the church’s 3500-kilogram bell, and many more. 

san-agustin-museum

Inside the San Agustin Church Museum. Photo from San Agustin Museum Facebook page

Depicting the lives of the largest number of immigrants in our country, the Bahay Tsinoy tells the struggles of the Chinese people, how they established Binondo, and how they connected with the Filipinos despite our differences. 

RIzal Shrine inside Fort Santiago, Intramuros. Photo from nhcp.gov.ph

Last on the list is the two-storey building Rizal Shrine Museum located in Fort Santiago where the Filipinos and Americans were imprisoned including our country’s national hero Jose Rizal. It stores Rizal’s archives and personal valuables such as books, clothing, medical instruments, and other things. 

Inside Museo de Intramuros. Photo from The Philippine Star.

You can also explore and see for yourself the other museums such as the NCCA Gallery, Museo de Intramuros, iMake History Fortress, Destileria  Limtuaco Museum, Instituto Cervantes de Manila, and Fr. George J. Willman SJ Museum. 

León Gallery

Situated in W14 La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, the León Gallery is the steward of Philippine antiques, Old Master Paintings by Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo to modernist modernist works by Fernando Zobel and Diosdado Lorenzo, and and other historical pieces of Filipino art. 

Photo from Rappler

The gallery also hosts exhibitions which features and commemorates the works of contemporary artists as well as antique furniture, ivory, and paintings. They also conduct biddings and auctions on antique furniture and paintings. The gallery definitely exceeds its mission on providing convenient access to contemporary and historical pieces of Filipino art.

UST Museum of Arts and Sciences

In the heart of the campus, is our very own museum that is a place to behold. Our museum has a wide collection of mineral, botanical, and biological artifacts that came from the science courses—more than 400 years ago when the university was beginning. Along with being the oldest university in the Philippines, UST also holds the oldest known museum in the country. The museum opens at 9:00AM to 2:30PM on Sunday and Monday, while it opens at 8:30AM to 5:30PM from Tuesday to Saturday.

Photo from UST Museum Facebook page

Cultural and historical pieces are the prevalent displays in the museum. It has old instruments, clothing, weaponry, and burial jars from different eras from the Philippines, China and Japan. Exuding the university’s pontifical status, the chair that Popes John Paul II and Francis sat on when they visited the country is showcased at the second floor.

The university definitely ignites and strengthens the sciences, Philippine culture and history together with religious artifacts in its museum.

The month of October is not the only time for you to visit these museums, in fact, you can visit museums all year round. Now that art is made more accessible, these displays of Philippine culture can educate us about our identity. By seeing these in our museums—we become far more stimulated to understand their interpretations in the past. 

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Which UST street are you?

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Artwork by Tricia Jardin

Another year, another Buzzfeed-esque quiz that is based on purely subjective notions. This quiz can somehow garner questionable results as they can be entirely different from how one sees oneself, but still feel free to take a (good) three-minute break and validate which UST street completely molds your Thomasian existence. Enjoy! 

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‘Awit’ and the normalization of transphobia

With music as a tool for liberation, we must not let the likes of “Awit” to limit our minds, let alone poison our culture with prejudice.

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Screenshot from the album cover of the now deleted song "Awit" on Spotify.

Erich Gabriel Bongon, also known as Young Vito posted a video of himself on Twitter singing a preview of “Awit” last Dec. 5, 2019, a song he that composed with sexist undertones and transphobic lyrics. Netizens were quick to call out the rapper when the preview is posted, prompting him to delete the video and issue an “apology.”

What happened afterwards? Was he cancelled? Was he given career opportunities after the incident? Did he change his ways and most importantly, did he educate himself on gender rights?

Young Vito is known to have signed a recording contract with Viva Records. With the record label having full knowledge of the incident, Young Vito and Viva Records have enabled themselves to go further: to release the same song with the same infamous lyrics, capitalizing off its notoriety on social media.

Awitis just one of the many Filipino songs propagating harmful ideas that does not only target the transgender community, but also encourages the normalization of transphobia and a culture of hate in the country.

Young Vito’s “Awitis a trans woman, with the singer implying that the woman deceives men, that there is something wrong with them. 

The song’s album art depicts a trans women using a urinal, as if implying that they should use the male’s comfort room; a controversial choice due to the ongoing debate on trans peoples’ comfort room access.

After receiving flak, the rapper posted an apology on Twitter, at the same time refusing to delete his video and liking tweets saying that people are “too sensitive.” He deleted the video afterwards.

A few days later, the rapper signed a five-year contract with Viva Records. After that, the song is released on multiple streaming platforms last Jan. 17, 2020 under Viva Records, with Emmanuel “NEXXFRIDAY” Salen producing and providing the beat for the track.

Photo grabbed from Young Vito’s Instagram account @youngvitoph

“Despite the controversy surrounding the song, Awithas been turned into a full-blown bop…,” the caption of the now-deleted lyric video in Viva Records’ Youtube channel reads. 

The song is then deleted on Spotify one day after its release.

Awitis just one of the many Filipino songs with transphobic lyrics. Songs like Abra’s “Gayuma” and Kamikazee’s “Chiksilog” portray trans women as someone who deceive men with their looks, while also spreading the notion that trans women are still men even if they have already identify themselves as women. 

One may think that the lyrics of these songs are harmless but for the transgender community, it makes their lives more difficult than it is.

In a country where the trans community are ostracized, where even some members of the LGBTQ+ community preach transphobia, where the likes of Hermie Monterde are still discriminated in the workplace, where personalities such as BB Gandanghari and Jake Zyrus are mocked online, where women like Gretchen Diez are shunned and arrested for entering the comfort room, where people like Jennifer Laude and Jessa Remiendo are murdered for being transgender – these songs spread dangerous ideas to the public. 

These songs normalizes harmful prejudices embedded in our culture. It hinders the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community’s fight for equal rights. It makes the idea of targeted discrimination and hate crime acceptable, painting a harmful image on people’s minds that it is normal to mock transgenders with the help of a song.

Music has been used to break the status quo, teach important lessons, and in some cases, aid in bringing down tyrants. With music as a tool for liberation, we must not let the likes of “Awit” to limit our minds, let alone poison our culture with prejudice. 

If we want true progress, we must lose the chains of backwardness binding us, and we can start by taking small steps—starting with picking good songs to listen to.

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Kadenang Ginto is more complex than ever

The show may seem ordinary in the spectrum of teleseryes, but with the bouts of recognition and attention it harbors, shows like Kadenang Ginto may have the tendency to succumb to society’s patriarchal roots—a premise that has been the show’s subdued message from the very beginning.

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Photo from ABS-CBN News

Media and entertainment industries, especially in the Philippines, have undoubtedly created a number of teleseryes that got viewers hooked. Iconic lines from television shows made their way through social media, thus birthing an irreversible decade of video parodies, i.e. “Cassie, hindi ka muna papasok sa iskul” which came from the ABS-CBN afternoon prime show, Kadenang Ginto (directed by Jerry Lopez Sineneng and Avel Sunpongco). This particular boomerang created by the show serves as a primary example of the proliferation of teleseryes into the in-betweens of people’s mundane realities. 

Usually, Filipino TV formulas have just been restricted to cookie-cutter stories such as rich girl-poor girl rivalries, wife versus mistress conflicts, and other types of predictable stories with a recurring plotline—dramatically mirroring the struggles of which people could sympathize and in some cases, empathize with. 

Now, with the recent narratives of most materials, it is fitting to raise the question: do teleseryes, such as the case in point, subconsciously imply a patriarchal and capitalist society which can water down women’s roles as simply pawns of the men-splayed environment?

Dissecting the Initial Premise of the Show

The whole idea of the show displays a tangled story between Daniela Mondragon (played by Dimples Romana) and Romina Andrada (played by Beauty Gonzales). Romina, a glorified Secretary, marries the business tycoon and father of Daniela, Robert Mondragon (played by Albert Martinez).

Caused by jealousy, Daniela strived to emerge relevant by physically and emotionally belittling Romina to death, hoping that she could at least gain more relevance in the old Mondragon’s life. It gets more complicated when Daniela marries Romina’s past lover, Carlos (played by Adrian Alandy), who still has unresolved feelings for the latter.

While Daniela’s past actions remain important both in their family business and in the lives of the men involved, it seems questionable that all her intentions were for the sake of these men.

While it is also applauding that Daniela and Romina are their own persons who are fully responsible to stir changes necessary to keep the show going, one may question the end of not just the character’s intentions, but as well as the writers’ inclination to probe and provide a substantial arc for these characters.

It raises the question, especially during a period when a new character was introduced in the persona of Richard Yap, a rich businessman, who somehow became a catalyst on how the character of Romina can get back on track. 

Are the women in Philippine teleserye doomed to always be swept off their feet by some men to garner the easiest way out?

The show may seem ordinary in the spectrum of teleseryes presented by the network, but with the bouts of recognition and attention it harbors, shows like Kadenang Ginto may have the tendency to succumb to society’s patriarchal roots—a premise that has been the show’s subdued message from the very beginning.

Now (with the plot lines tangled and recurring), the characters and their progressions can be attested to hopeful major changes (thankfully), as lead female characters are taking matters on their hands especially with Romina Andrada-Mondragon gaining more control over her circumstances, a (seemingly progressive) march of silent revolution, veering away from the initial premises of the show – yet still bound to its original plot line.  

Trudging the Conventional

While the network’s teleseryes’ cookie-cutter and cardboard characterizations of women are proven formulas, fresh perspectives are always a welcome venture with the exploration of complex female characters. 

Writers and show producers must become more socially-reverberant that they not only choose to showcase shows that pay the rent. In the Philippines, it is slowly building its pace with independent films being at the forefront.

Unfortunately, most mainstream media consumers are still inclined with choosing the proven formulas so mass media practitioners also stick to what generates more audiences. What the consumers can do now is to try to become more adamant to good and progressive changes – utilize the everlasting “get out of your comfort zone” notion. 

Media, as compared to what it tries to cater to before, has certainly come a long way with the sprouts of powerful women characters here and there. Unfortunately, Philippine mainstream media and its consumers sat way comfortably in the reassurance of these boxed and usual beliefs.

It may possibly take a while for these teleseryes to do the same with their high intentions to generate money, even if the essential purpose of art to heighten and challenge the empathic tendencies of the people can definitely suffer.

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