Last week, me and my family visited The National Museum of the Philippines, which is located at Ermita, Manila. The National Museum actually consists of two buildings, which are facing each other with the open highway in the middle. One is for Science History, and the other for the history of the Philippines. We arrived there at about nine am, and stopped over at the University of Santo Tomas on the way to eat brunch.
We only visited the building of Philippine History because of the huge amount of tourists, which consisted of four floors. When you go inside, you get greeted by Juan Luna's historical Spolarium, which is so gigantic in size. Spolarium shows people (Spaniards) capturing other people (Filipinos) who were beaten up and bloody. The sight of it is nothing but majestic, and goosebumps creep me up the closer I get to the canvas. It's like it's telling me that yes, this is actual, real paint, and yes, Juan Luna painted this, and yes this is the horrible reality.
The country of Spain once colonized Philippines back years ago in the 1800s. Filipinos were made to do tiresome tasks and were treated poorly. They were asked to do the impossible, and suffered for years, and there isn't a doubt in that once you see Spolarium and all the other paintings with your very own eyes. Some paintings were images of bombings, rape incidents, murders, battling in religion, or people with tiny houses. I also remember seeing a sculpture of a mom defending ehr children with courage, as their father was shot and dead. There were also paintings (portraits, actually) of Philippine National heros and some of the Americans who captured the country in the past.
When I visited the National Museum, I felt a part of me was in it. It was as if my fifth grade textbook was coming to life and showing me all these kinds of stuff. The museum mainly had paintings and sculptures, and some of the new Filipino artists I discovered were Gulliermo Tolentino, Fernando Amorsolo, Juan Luna, and Vincente Manansala. The first floor of the museum itself was already very informative and all the while interesting especially for those who still have Philippine history fresh in their heads.
On the other hand, the second floor till the last was more on modern history and modern artists with more paintings and sculptures by Filipinos.
As I conclude, I really must say that as horrid as it may seem and as cruel as it may get, Spaniards, Americans, and Japanese were very cruel back then. They captured the Philippines and controlled all the Filipinos. They killed without mercy and expected the impossible. But once you really see the museum, you'll see bloodbaths and a lot of depression. When I walked into the museum that day, I truly felt like a Filipino inside and out. I felt like I was a citizen of before, and once had a hard life in World War II. I felt goosebumps and chills with the talent and gift of creativity that I witnessed. And I can truly say that I am a proud Filipino.