#BloggersDayOut at the National Museum

Mar 26, 2016

For the whole month of March, the National Museum have made their admissions free for female visitors to celebrate the National Women's Month. Initially, I wanted female bloggers from our Facebook group to take this opportunity to meet each other and to appreciate and learn more about the artworks within our National Museum. Unfortunately, our schedules did not meet. Some had other priorities to do that day so it was only me, Melanee and Arrianne who went to explore the museum.

I have visited the museum a couple of times now. But the last time I went was early last year. Quite a lot have changed such as new galleries and previous artworks relocated or was pulled out. One of the new galleries I enjoyed staying in was BenCab's gallery.

In my understanding, "Sabel" is a scavenger from the dingy side-streets of the city, Manila. She's already incommunicable and has been rummaging heaps of garbage and trash for food. She has this habit of covering herself with plastic as means of protection.

When BenCab saw her, he knew she was going to be a good subject... a beautiful inspiration. He painted Sabel in a different light and through the years transformed the symbol of despair, isolation and madness to a beautiful masterpiece.

If we have enjoyed BenCab's gallery, we kind of felt different with this other gallery we visited. I missed seeing the name of the gallery but the guard in charge of this area asked us something that made us feel a little creepy.

"Alam nyo po ba kung bakit lahat ng painting dito hindi nakangiti?" (Do you know why all the paintings here are not smiling?) In my mind was an obvious answer, "Kasi bawal?" then he said it too. I remember reading in one of the books in our school library before that there was an era where people are not allowed to smile on their portraits. I just forgot the reason why. It was kind of creepy especially when Kuya guard told us to look closely at one of the paintings.

He told us to look at the lady in the painting with silver frame (see below). I honestly didn't want to take a solo photo of her painting because it was really, really, really creepy! Her painting was very alive. I know that some of the paintings age may have caused the colors to fade but there's really something different about her painting. It feels like a spirit is within that painting, watching you. SERIOUSLY! NO JOKE. I even tried walking pass it a couple of times and looked at her eyes; her eyes seemed like she's following me wherever I go which I did not feel when I tried doing it with other paintings. ANYWAY.

We also entered Armorsolo's Sketch Gallery. I've seen some of the sketches before together with his paintings but I'm glad that they have gathered all his sketches in one place. Some of his drafts were even displayed here. It's amusing at how his sketches look simple from afar but if you look closely you'd see the details of the shading and the thickness or thinness of the lines that makes the entire scenery alive on a piece of paper.

Aside from paintings, I'm really fascinated at sculptures especially if its representing people. Just imagine the amount of patience, focus, determination and artistic talent that is needed to create a life-like sculpture of real and influential people in our history. 

Below are just few of the sculptures found in the gallery. I only chose those I found really realistic. It was like look at these people face-to-face.

Though this next gallery I'll talk to you about is not new for me, it felt very good to finally know what these four (4) big artworks were. I've seen this before but did not pay attention because I felt it was too cluttered to understand. Until we took a sit and looked at it for a few minutes.

(c) www.iampengulai.com

The four (4) paintings were actually a representation of the progress of the medicine in the Philippines. These big paintings were made by our National Artist Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco (1912-1969).

It did not come to me as surprise that the Old Senate Session Hall had an exhibit when we went. I came across it in National Museum's Facebook page before. The exhibit was for or by Jacques Ferrier: A Vision for the Sensual City.

Then we went to the gallery that showcases artworks owned by BSP or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Most were vintage religious paintings. According to the personnel in charge, the term "On loan..." found in each of the paintings description in this gallery meant that BSP lent these artworks to National Museum for exhibit or display. It's only then that I found out that National Museum do not buy artworks from the artists. All masterpieces found in the museum were donated.

Since it was Melanee's and Arrianne's first time at the museum, I took them to the masterpiece I never fail to visit in National Museum. The Retablo (Side Altar). This side altar was from the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino (Dimiao Bohol). In the way I look at it... it seems to be blooming more as it age. 

Of course, who would miss Juan Luna's gallery? I find this collection intriguing so I took a closer look. This collection was called the Parisian Character Studies. If you don't read the description at the bottom left side of the collection, you'd think it's just a random painting of people in Paris. But in fact, these paintings were an expression of criticism particularly of the conditions of the working classes. 

Then I showed my #BloggerFriends the controversial and rumored cursed painting of Juan Luna, the Mi Novia. According to different articles online, they say that this is the wife of Juna Luna, Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera. After being killed by her husband, she possessed this painting. And probably because of that possession (as rumors say), who ever owned this painting experienced misfortune. Read a little more about it here.

However, I also found an article that says this is not the wife of Juan Luna, rather, a prostitute Luna was obsessed painting. Luna painted this woman every day that made people assume/believe it was the wife. She was whom Maria de la Paz was greatly jealous of. 

A lot of different stories over the internet and even among the National Museum personnel. It would be challenging to find the real story behind this painting and why it became a controversy.

Last but not the least, the Spolarium. It's actually the first artwork you'd see as you enter the museum. I remember standing here for several minutes, just staring and appreciating this enormous masterpiece. Who wouldn't be speechless when they see this art? Learn more about this famous painting here.

(c) www.iampengulai.com

Taken using #ZenfoneSelfie

Taken using #ZenfoneSelfie

Though it would have been more fun if many bloggers came, I still had loads of fun with Melanee of Blogger on a Budget and Arrianne of Travel Habeat. Having just the three (3) of us together, we got to know each one a little more. It feels so good to spend a day with people who share the same interest as you. :) We even discussed future meetup events with other bloggers who are also into arts! YAAAY! EXCITING!

Please do also check their post about our mini and simple #BloggersDayOut :)


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