Wednesday, September 18, 2013

History appreciation 101 at the Ayala Museum

Another weekday holiday brought me and my museum-hopping friends Mary, Bing, and Man to the next museum/art gallery in our checklist: the Ayala Museum (http://www.ayalamuseum.org). I've been there twice before (both as a student) and there were instances when Noah and I were staring at the entrance but didn't have the time to go in.

Today, I had the luxury of spending an afternoon viewing dioramas that showcase snippets of Philippine history. Photography is not allowed, just like in the Cultural Center of the Philippines, so I am not posting any here.

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The 60 dioramas at the Ayala Museum divided Philippine history into various stages but not necessarily in the way it was taught to me in school. Philippine history was defined, in my history classes, based on who had occupied the Philippines at any given time: the Spaniards, the Americans, and the Japanese. Instead, the dioramas and a multimedia exhibit showed history based on how Filipinos viewed it: before colonizers, the loss of independence, the beginnings of national identity, the loss of freedom during the Marcos regime (which some people may argue against) and then the beginnings of the Cory Aquino administration. All former presidents of the Philippines had standees showing their heights, with the obvious omission of Ferdinand Marcos. I think that whoever decided on this wasn't happy during the 70s. 

Some of the scenes had more stories in them than what's on the label. Good thing I got a booklet containing descriptions of each diorama. The booklet made the experience richer... It doubles as a souvenir too!  

I've seen dioramas before but the ones at the Ayala Museum were some of the most intricate. And it's no wonder because the artists who had made them were some of the best: the reknowned woodcarvers of Paete, Laguna. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Treasures appreciation Tuesday at the Ayala Museum

Another weekday holiday brought me and my museum-hopping friends Mary, Bing, and Man to the next museum/art gallery in our checklist: the Ayala Museum (http://www.ayalamuseum.org). I've been there twice before (both as a student) and there were instances when Noah and I were staring at the entrance but didn't have the time to go in.

Today, I had the luxury of spending an afternoon viewing the various exhibits that showed how strong Philippine international trade relations were with the rest of the world, a common theme I have observed previously in exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum and the National Museum. The Ayala collection further showed how rich the foundations of Filipino culture are. Photography is not allowed, just like in the Cultural Center of the Philippines, so I am not posting any here.

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Gold of Ancestors. Gold has always been one of the most expensive metals worldwide. But it's not only valued by contemporary people. Even in pre-historical periods, Filipinos had been known to deck themselves, their deities, and their dead relatives in golden ornaments. Diadems, studs, ear ornaments, belts, and sashes had been obtained from excavation sites in different parts of the country. Seeing that some of these jewelry pieces are about 1kg in weight, I wonder how the wearers managed to move about. My best bet is that they (particularly the royals) didn't have the best posture, with all that gold weighing on their shoulders. Was the amount of gold on these people symbolizing the gravity of their responsibility, aside from being a reflection of their wealth?

A Millennium of Contact. "All that glisters is not gold", Portia says in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. True; some of the Philippines' richest treasures are not in gold but are in porcelain. The variety of porcelain pieces I've seen came from pre-Hispanic periods, which indicated that the Philippines was part of an international trading community. I wonder, though, how'd the archaeologists know what century the pots came from?

The Villanueva collection contained some of the most well-preserved pieces I've seen. There were wares that originated from the Chinese mainland: celadon pieces; black, brown, and white pottery; and the ubiquitous blue-and-white pieces I've seen ad nauseam in museums in different countries. Going through the collection at the Ayala Museum offered an answer to the popularity of the blue-and-whites. These were sold to the European markets, which I think is why these are seen in museums worldwide. Celadon pots and the other types exported to Southeast Asian markets were rarer in museums I've gone to in western countries. The different kiln complexes in China were assigned to produce pieces for different markets. This designation of factories reminded me of the One Town, One Product concept in Laguna.

Aside from the Chinese products, the Villanueva collection also included pots and ornaments from Vietnam and Thailand... Plus other countries in Southeast Asia. The designs, though quite similar to the Chinese pieces at first glance, were quite unique. Thai pieces had elephants on them, for instance. 

Embroidered Multiples. Abaca. Sinamay. Pina. Cotton. These are some of the more popular fabrics used by Filipinos for their clothes during the Spanish colonial era. I observed a huge contrast between pre-colonial wear and the fashion during the Spanish colonial era. For instance, paintings of datus and their wives indicated a strong Indian or Middle Eastern influence in terms of clothing. The colonial trends, on the other had, reflected strong European influences like the empire cut dresses worn by the women in the elite classes. None of the images were wearing what we contemporary Filipinos call terno or Maria Clara... Or even barong Tagalog. But the elements are there, particularly the tapis worn over the saya.

From all the different Filipiniana attire I've seen today, I find it difficult to decide on what I'd like to wear when required to wear Filipiniana.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Good-bye, Jazz.

January 2006. That's when I first saw the car that would bring me from point A to point B for the next seven years: a Honda Jazz 1.3 CVT. Fast forward 186,000++ kilometers later, I bid the car good-bye. While I've been planning on selling it for sometime, the reality of parting from the car still came as a shock... and that was earlier today. Yes, the Jazz was sold on my Mom's birthday. Since the car transferred hands and I am home alone, I wasn't in such a celebratory mood. Anna and I will eat on the weekend to celebrate Mommy's birthday.

It still feels surreal that the Jazz is no longer mine. So to cope, I'm listing down 10 memories with the Jazz, just on the top of my head.

Here goes...
  1. The rear seat became a mini-zoo. The stuff toys became a perfect distraction for my nephews and nieces. A friend was attempting to get the platypus doll for himself; I ended up teary-eyed. They're my toys!
  2. Long trip to Pampanga, take 1. Anna and I drove north to see the 16th hot-air balloon festival. Well, I drove; she slept most of the way. On our way home, I was able to remain alert thanks to the half-liter Coca-Cola I was drinking in sips from Pampanga to Laguna.
  3. Long trip to Pampanga, take 2. Yes, it's to the hot-air balloon festival (17th), but my friends from high school joined me. We had a good time flying kites and catching up on each others' lives, particularly since we're not seeing each other as often as before. Mafel and Karen joined me on the long drive home. Along the way, we made a stop at Starbucks in one of the gas stations along the expressway. That was where I ordered my first made-to-order beverage: venti chocolate chip frappuccino blended creme, soy, with whipped cream and peppermint syrup.
  4. Long trip to Pampanga, take 3. Third time's the charm they say. But this time, the 18th hot-air balloon festival wasn't the sole reason. Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines, so it was just fitting to include a pit stop at a restaurant in Angeles City. Yum!
  5. Christmas shopping with Noah. Noah is a great guy to go shopping with because he doesn't hurry me along, is willing to hold on to my bag as I try on shoes or clothes, and watches out for food that trigger my allergies. But on one occasion, the roles were reversed: he went all-out on the Christmas shopping. The luggage area of the Jazz was filled with his gifts, including a set of ingredients for spaghetti for his mom and a stroller for his newborn niece. He drove the car back to Laguna so I could sleep along the way.
  6. Driving myself to the emergency room. I was home alone when I fever hit me. My temperature was unstable and I kept vomiting until I passed out. When I came to, I thought I was stable enough to drive to the nearest hospital. That was the longest 10-minute drive I've ever made.
  7. Flat tire and Nelzo. Back when Glorietta 5 was still a parking lot, I had a flat tire there and drivers in the parking lot lounge were assisting me replace it. Nelzo, who had been shopping on his own, was upset because he thought that I had asked others for help with my groceries while he was on-hand to help. I explained that I didn't call him over because he might not know how to change tires.
  8. Lost in Quezon (province). I had been at a former classmate's wedding. On my way home, I thought of taking a shortcut through the Sierra Madre Mountains. I was lost for an hour, driving on a bridge near a waterfall, before a guy with a rifle and a bunch of bananas gave me directions. The waterfall area reminds me now of the Cars scene where Lightning McQueen and Sally were passing by a waterfall.
  9. Turning 360 degrees along the northbound section of the Alabang viaduct. Now this is a scary experience. The SLEX was under repair that time, with maximum speed limit at 80kph on the approach to the viaduct. I was driving at 80kph on the innermost lane. The car driving alongside me cut me off unexpectedly; once on my lane, in front of my car, the driver slowed down to 60kph. For some reason, the conditions were right for the car to drift to a full circle. While my car was spinning, I saw the blur of the cement partitions on the road. I knew then that I wouldn't die just yet because there was no flashback. Eventually out of the spin (and seeing the vehicles behind my car at full stop far from my car), I noticed that the slow overtaker stopped as well. I just overtook the overtaker then continued on my way... but my hands were shaking when I finally parked the car.
  10. Whiplash, anyone? My car was a victim of two collision accidents. In the first one, it got hit from behind, damaging the rear windshield and the 5th door. In the second one, it was broadsided by a flying tricycle. In both accidents, my head hit the seat hard, triggering whiplash symptoms. I was sore for a few days but the car took a heavier beating than I did. Thank goodness to the people in the Honda repair shop and in a car shop recommended by the insurance company: they were able to get my car back in tip-top shape both times!