June 12th is Philippine Independence Day
Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards for more than 300 years. What started out as a hospitable, warm welcome when Ferdinand Magellan found the islands of the Philippines ended with so much history. When I read the book A Lolong Time ago, I must be honest, I became emotional. Ever since then, I started looking at the colonization a different way. What I knew was that our ancestors were treated unjustly in our own country.
But there was something so much more grave than that. Our identity was stolen. So much culture, so much history was hidden and killed. Reading that book about who the Filipinos were before we were colonized made me realize that we lost so much more than just our freedom. We lost the true meaning of who we are. After my daughter and I read the book, we were left wondering. Our original Filipino traditions, rituals, language, architecture could have evolved differently.
Did you ever wonder how our fashion could have looked like if we did not adapt to the way the Spaniards dressed before? How about the rites and rituals? Today, we are just seeing the primitive versions of those ritual. We are learning through our history books a thing or two about how the Sandugo went before. We read that Filipinos did barter with the neighboring countries. Overall, we are just seeing the primitive version of how our ancestors lived. Imagine what it would look like if the Filipinos were able to develop on their own? If instead of trying to survive the cruel treatment they undeservingly got, they were left to prosper on their own, evolving naturally on their own. Now, wouldn't that be something? But we will never know. Because that chance was stolen from us.
Exposing History to the Future Adults
When I decided to homeschool my kid, one of the reasons was so that she could be exposed to as much culture as possible. Reading stories to her is just one part of the job. Getting her excited about things like history, literature, arts, Filipino heritage, and so much more, is another thing. I was actually hesitant to bring her to the museum because she might not be able to appreciate it yet. It's a good thing we finished the history book A Lolong time ago (and my daughter's been reading it on her free time) and now we started reading Conrado Benitez's Philippine History in Stories.
I thought of bringing A Lolong during our museum trip, I wasn't really sure if she'll even take a look at it, but voila! She did a treasure hunt to see where the historical artifacts were. And because not all the artifacts in the book is in the Ayala Museum, she is looking forward to our next museum trips. I am just ecstatic to see how very much engaged and excited she is about the Philippine History. On a side note, I bought her books about Egypt and the pyramids. Let's just say that she already has it in her mind that she's going to see the tombs someday. I am both scared and thrilled about this.
Juan Luna's Long Lost Painting
The highlight of the day was the exhibit of Juan Luna's Hymen, oh Hyménée! This painting was lost for a long time and was believed to have been destroyed because of the incidents between Luna and his wife. After almost a hundred years since it was lost, a rich family was said to have had possession of the painting. Presently, it is now on display in the Ayala Museum and we are lucky to witness the premier of this exhibit.
Looking at the Luna exhibit in the Ayala Museum, it shows several of his paintings and drawings. All around, you'll see his art study. I saw how dedicated and passionate he was with learning and developing his skills. My daughter and I have art appreciation sessions in our lessons and this exhibit showed how Juan Luna, a renowned artist, studies his art before creating his masterpieces. We almost missed this, actually, because my little one was excited to go to the Filipinas Heritage library which is at the 6th floor of the Museum.
A Walk Down History Lane
On the 2nd floor of the museum is the diorama exhibit which shows the timeline of the Philippines from the very first Filipinos who inhabited the country from the great migration. Once again, she brought out her book because the first parts of the diorama exhibit shows how the Filipinos lived before the Spaniards arrived. All over the floor, different ships like the Chinese junk and Spanish galleon are on display. Just the miniature version, that is.
Within the diorama floor, there were height charts on the wall showing the heights of some famous people from the Philippines like the Aetas, Jose Rizal, the presidents of the Philippines and so much more. I noticed that the average height of Filipinos before was between 4'9" - 5'4". That means my height is within the acceptable normal height of a Filipino. Hah! I am proud to be a Pinoy! haha
The diorama exhibits look really cool. I was observing the details that they added in each miniature scenes. It's really a skill. The way that they painted the background made it look life like. In miniature. My daughter and I watched A Night at the Museum and we were like "Imagine if these miniatures came to life at night."
Looking at each exhibit, I couldn't help but think how much of the Filipino traditions we've lost. As you walk along the timelines in the Philippines, you can clearly see the picture of how it looked like at the beginning. Then gradually, you'll see the minute changes that slowly happened over the course of 300 years or so. Still, the question in my head remains. How would we look like if its our own traditions that we got to develop, improve, and evolve in? I imagine the infrastractures would show some hint of a bahay kubo-ish style. Would there have been churches? I imagine our national costume might have looked a lot different. Would we have been one nation at all?
The Tipping Point
During this trip to Ayala Museum, I learned that there were a lot of attempts to overthrow the Spaniards. Husband and wife Diego and Gabriela Silang themselves fought against Spain in the 1700s. They were even inspired by the quick and short success of the British troops in Manila during that time. There were also Chinese men who tried to fight as well. Lapu Lapu also fought against them from the very beginning in the 1500s. And I'm sure in between those centuries, there were several others who rose and gave it their shot.
I am both pissed and amazed at how the Spaniards remained in power over a country that was not theirs in the first place. They must be really great tacticians. And needless to say, they are ruthless tyrants. While my husband and I were having breakfast the following day, we talked about this. And it just came to me that maybe, just maybe, one of the main reason why the Spaniards succeeded in ruling a country that was not theirs is because they did not let the native Filipinos learn and have education. First, they put a stop to the native practices, then they controlled who gets what kind of education. And most importantly, they removed the power from the mothers to educate their young. It just shows how important it is for a mother to take the pains of educating their children during their early years. Just look at how Teodora Alonso homeschooled Rizal until he was 7 years old.
This trip to the Ayala Museum has really made me think about so many things about our past. I kept on telling my husband how I wished I learned history this way when I was young. But then again, who's to say I'd enjoy a trip to the museum when I was a kid.
The Cherry on Top
Part of our tour to the Ayala Museum was going to the Filipinas Heritage library located at the 6th floor of the building. Midway through our self-guided tour at the museum, my daughter has been hinting on wanting to go to the library. We had to go through 1 more floor of exhibits at that time. It's not easy to distract a kid who is adamant in hanging out at the library.
Our scheduled museum tour was only from 1-3PM that day. We were not sure if we're going to be allowed to enter the library because we finished the tour at 2:57PM. It's a good thing it's not part of the tour. We just needed to wait for our turn because since it was a free day at the Ayala Museum, the library turned out to be packed as well.
When we go out to the malls, my daughter always brings her books (maybe 3 or 4 of them), her mini journal, a few pens and pencils, and her mobile phone. Since we had lots of free books last weekend, she has ignored her mobile phone completely. Even up to now that I am writing this post, she still hasn't taken a peek at her phone. She's too busy sniffing and reading her new books.
We had to wait for our turn and so my daughter picked up a book, then sat herself at one corner and waited for our turn. I was telling my husband, "Look at your daughter, she's reading a book while waiting for her turn to go to the library, to read books." Tell me she's not a bookworm. Haha!
When we finally got to the Filipinas Heritage Library, my daughter just dove to the deepend instantly. She went ahead and looked at the books, chose the ones she wanted to read, and then forgot all about the world around her. She came to me to ask for her jacket because she was feeling cold but still wanted to read some more. She approached me again because she said her back was aching already from all the reading. Good thing there's a reading nook where she can just sit and relax. It was so cool to see there werenother children totally engrossed in their readings too. It was at that moment that she realized she loves libraries because it was quiet and noone was disturbing her while she reads. And guess what! She wants to come back and also look for other libraries. My heart is so full of joy!
There were lots of people in the museum that day. Normally, my social energy would almost instantaneously be depleted when there are tons of people around me. That trip to the Ayala Museum though was enjoyable from start to finish. Mostly because even though it was crowded, everyone was just minding their own business, no one was annoyingly inconsiderate, and we were able to enjoy the exhibits for a reasonable time. The only people I had to talk to were the admissions, guards, and the nice lade at the library entrance.
Surely, this one will be added to my daighter's core memory. My husband even said that this is the best Independence day celebration he ever had. And that's his way of saying "Thank you, Mahal, for bringing us here in the museum to enjoy the beauty of the Philippines through the collections, artworks and books."