It’s a short book and has fairly large text. The engaging illustrations by Mike Casal are nice. What made it difficult to read is my personal awareness of what happened during the Martial Law years. I’ve watched clips. I’ve read stories. I’ve seen the lies and the bias.
I was there for two days: the first and the last. While I have done that before, it’s nice to be reminded of the stark differences between first day and last day. During the first day: there are so many books, including rare tomes and limited editions from specialty stores—you just have to know where to look; some books have discounts and some do not; and you could bump into hardcore readers and/or hoarders. During the last day: book stocks have gone down significantly; the discounts could increase to somewhere between 30% and 50%; and you could bump into people fresh off the streets that are curious about the commotion in the center.
The exhibit is called The Spirit of Budo: The History of Japan’s Martial Arts. It was arranged by the Japan Foundation, Manila and runs until September 30, 2018. It also coincides with the Eiga Sai Festival, a showcase of Japanese films at select malls and theaters at certain areas of the country.
When I visit a government building, museum, or church, I sometimes wonder at its many details. I even try to guess how old it is and what style it has. I note some of the details that catch my eye. Sometimes, I’m able to find the name for it; sometimes, I do not. Nevertheless, it fascinates me to learn about buildings. That’s why I was floored when I learned what exactly was in the book I chose.
“Because I had time, I decided to enter. It was my first time there and I found it quite beautiful, albeit a bit crowded because there were a lot of people due to the free entrance.”
The government decided to repurpose the old Agriculture and Commerce Building, which was built in 1940. Its designer was Filipino architect Antonio Toledo, who incorporated a neoclassical look to the building. Sometime after WW2, it housed the Tourism department and was its previous occupant until it was given to the museum folks.
“You think life is easy? It might be easy in a tournament, my lord. A tournament is artificial. You’re on one side or the other and no one thinks God takes sides in a tournament, and there are marshals to make sure you don’t get carried off dead, but there are no marshals here. It’s just war, war without end, and the best you can do is try not to be on the wrong side. But who in God’s name knows which side is right?”
It’s a small monument found between the Universidad de Manila and the Manila City Hall. Unless you know of its exact location or you discover it for yourself, it’s easy to miss it: the Bonifacio Shrine in front of it arrests anyone’s attention just by with its size, color, and detail. Even the stores near it and the shrubbery surrounding it could obscure it from view. And it would be simple to just see it as another marbled path.
Fort Santiago was also a casualty of the Battle of Manila. It was finally turned over to the Philippine Government in 1946 and then recognized as the Shrine of Freedom in 1950. Currently, the fort is managed by the Intramuros Administration.
While silence is preferred at the gallery, they also invite all entering individuals to download an app on their mobile phones, which would serve as their tour guide in their ears for the paintings and the history depicted in them. The app scans a painting, which then starts a narration—best done with earphones or headphones on.
Up to the choir loft, we stopped to consider a mural of purgatory. While it still arches over the rose window, its beauty has long since dulled; from the pews of the church, there is no enticing artwork in that darkened space. There was a lone chandelier that hung from the ceiling, its appearance starkly different from the ones below. It is thought that it could be one of the original French oil lamps but could not be confirmed.
The museum houses the collection of Alfonso T. Yuchengco, the recently departed head of the Yuchengco Group of Companies, two of which are the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and the Mapúa University (formerly Mapúa Institute of Technology). He was also the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations and served different presidential administrations.