Sunday, February 12, 2017

Easter egg hunt at the Museum

I've been to the Ayala Museum's diorama exhibit several times already and I learn something new each time. In my last two visits though, my eyes were led to possible "Easter eggs" in the dioramas. Perhaps the craftsmen from Paete, Laguna injected their sense of humour into the tableaus. 

In the diorama below, for instance, the scene was all about the trade between the Chinese merchants and the Filipino rulers. The Chinese were trading ceramics and other goods from the mainland for turtle shells, buffalo horns, etc. This trade between the Chinese and the Filipinos explain the strong business relationships that exist even today; and how the Philippines became rich in archeological sites (with all those pottery shards). And this was in pre-Hispanic Philippines.

However, what I found funny with this diorama was the man at the back, seemingly carrying things that were either sold to or sold by this man. Why? Because while the rest of the male characters were either wearing billowy robes or bahags, he was wearing denim pants... way before denim pants were first mentioned.

The next scene features the death of General Gregorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass; his martyrdom allowing Emilio Aguinaldo to escape and to reach Palanan, Isabela without Americans at his tail.

I found a few interesting things about this tableau. It puts to question whether del Pilar is a great general as history books suggest. First, the Filipino contingent had the reconnaissance advantage: they were supposedly at a better position because they had the higher location, perfect for shooting at the enemy from strategic locations. But this positioning didn't work because the Filipino contingent was almost totally wiped out by the much larger American force. Second, del Pilar was on a sparsely vegetated part of the pass, which made him an easy target. But not only that... he was on a horse! He's highly visible... a sitting duck, quite literally. No wonder the Filipino team, already outnumbered as it was, lost. They didn't maximize the strategic advantage presented to them! Again, this is just based on the diorama.

Andres Bonifacio is known as the hero who got the Filipinos to get their act together and fight for their independence from the Spanish colonisers. The scene below is the Cry of Pugadlawin, which was made popular by attendees infamously tearing up their cedulas. It must be a scary time to be in but everyone seemed brave and  ready to face the Spaniards. Now, what I found funny in the diorama was the presence of women who were cooking the meal for everyone in attendance. And then there's the guy who was pooping in the outhouse and the elderly man who wasn't participating in any of the exciting activities outside the house. Seldom do these scenes make into the cuts of movies about Philippine history. I'm happy that the diorama makers made sure that this part of Philippine culture gets represented.

In the next diorama, President Emilio Aguinaldo was holding office in the mountains. I was caught in surprise when I saw that there's a cat under the window! Again, like the old man in the previous diorama, the cat wasn't interested in the goings-on that had the potential to change history. It only cared about eating, methinks. 

The next diorama, if I'm not mistaken, is about the arrival of Americans or something about the naval capacity of the Americans. I just found it weird that a sailor would be talking to something hidden in the ship's navigation instrument.

And finally, the diorama depicting the declaration of independence led by President Emilio Aguinaldo. I found it funny because aside from the ever-present pets, there was a man carried on a hammock. I presume that this was Apolinario Mabini. Anyway, it was special because it reminded me of the crippled man who was lowered down a hole of the roof of the synagogue where Jesus was teaching.

Seeing the finer details of the dioramas means that I have been visiting the area too much... more than twice a month sometimes! I wonder what Easter eggs I'll see next time...