Cultured & Artsy for a Day (Part 1)

Upon the invitation of a friend, a visit to the National Museum of the Philippines was arranged for a day of immersion in the culture and arts.  It was reminiscent of educational field trips of school days long gone by.  I was in child-like wonder over some of the attractions my eyes laid on.  My tour buddy and I felt no different from most of the museum-goers who were unmistakably students with their school uniforms on, age gap notwithstanding.  Some schoolchildren came in busloads.  A handful of foreign tourists stuck out from the crowd.

The National Museum of the Philippines is divided into two major sections, and reasonably so, because it occupies two buildings.  The first leg of our tour took us to The National Museum of Anthropology (or Museum of the Filipino People), housed at the former Department of Finance Building bounded by Taft Avenue and Finance Road, at the periphery of the Rizal Park.  The first chamber we entered transported us into another world and another era.  The cavernous ceilings, gothic architectural designs, stained glass windows and antique chandeliers stirred my fascination for old world charm.  But hogging the spotlight in that hall is Section No. 22 of the Berlin Wall, or part of the Great Divide that separated East and West Germany during the Cold War.  It was donated by the German government to the Philippines in 2014, or 24 years after Germany’s reunification in 1990, as inspired by the Philippines’ bloodless People Power Revolt in EDSA in 1986.

Berlin Wall

Much of the historical artifacts and archaeological finds from the distant to the recent past, as well as dossiers of national value and general interest, are remnants of the galleon trade era.  Not to be missed are the Treasures of the San Diego Galleon, discovered in 1992 in the deep waters of Palawan.  (The San Diego Galleon was built as a trading ship but was quickly converted into a warship.  On December 1600, San Diego sank southwest of Manila after it was engaged by the Dutch warship Mauritius.)  The collection consists of a great number of artifacts and ecofacts recovered from the shipwreck, including Chinese porcelain and celadon ware dated as early as the 11th century, religious relics, Japanese katanas, Portuguese cannon and Mexican coin.  Previous to its permanent home in the National Museum of the Philippines, The San Diego Exhibition had been on a global tour.  Miniature replicas of galleons used in the ivory and galleon trade are high in appreciation value for visitors like me.

Galleon

Porcelain.jpgCoins.jpg

cannons

But what truly cinched my interest the most, and where I naturally lingered much longer, was the Lumad exhibit (Bangsamoro Art from the National Ethnographic Collection) that featured the diversity and ethnicity of the tribal communities in Mindanao.  Their customs and traditions, as evident in their fashion, homestead, jewelry, accessories, tools, and musical instruments, speak of their fondness for vibrant colors, elaborate and ornate designs, and use of indigenous materials.  All these highlight the distinct artistry and creative genius of the people, not to mention their exotic and almost sacred uniqueness.

Buraq

Coconut grater

Carrying bag

Fashion ensemble.1

Too engrossed to notice the time, our lunch came at almost 2 p.m.  As I pause for a short break, watch out for the next leg of our tour as we cover the next building, the National Museum of Fine Arts (also known as National Art Gallery).

 

Dateless at the Cinema

It’s been ages ago since I first braved the idea of watching a movie in the cinema all by lonesome self – a feat I found liberating. Hence, I was excited at the prospect of doing a repeat, having forgotten what it was like to be without any date inside a movie house.

I went on a weekday to catch the first screening so I won’t have to contend with a packed audience.  Prior to my trip to the cinema, I was totally unaware of the movie titles on exhibit.  London Has Fallen won me over.  I did not have the chance to either see a trailer of it or read a synopsis or film review about it.  But at the conclusion of the flick, I was glad about my pick.

London Has Fallen

It is easy enough to guess what the film’s plot hinges on, as the first few frames are splattered with news reports and video images of terrorist attacks in different parts of the globe (take note, with mention of Manila, Philippines).

I am not so much a fan of action films, but this is one of those few and far between productions that got me hooked from beginning to end, considering that the screening time was immediately after lunch.  There was not a dull or dragging scene.  Sequences were tight and action-packed, keeping me awake, upright and at the edge of my seat as I held bated breath in anticipation of what would happen next.  Tender scenes between Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell), Mike’s bitter farewell to his dying superior (Angela Bassett), and later on, the arrival of Mike’s and Leah’s firstborn, provide the soft element to temper the harsh component of the entire movie.

The cast did a superb acting job. Apart from Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, worth citing for their convincing character portrayals are Morgan Freeman as US Vice-President Allan Trumbull, Angela Bassett as US Secret Service Director, Charlotte Riley as British M16 agent, and Radha Mitchell as wife of Mike Banning.  Not to be outdone are the villainous father and son characters of Alon Moni Aboutboul as Aamir Barkawi and Waleed Zuaiter as Barkawi’s son Kamran.   But as is common in action movies that verge on the superhero fiction genre, the major characters are just too indestructibly invincible.

This motion picture confronts us with the ugly face of terrorism.  It sends down shivers down the spine because the reality of misguided forces waging war against an innocent world stares us in the face, especially in the wake of the spate of violent attacks in different parts of the world, the most recent of which were in Paris and Brussels.  The film’s security breaches in communications, infiltration by a band of mercenaries of an entire police force and the undetected ground works clandestinely laid down by the terrorist group in preparation for D-day may appear like the product of an ultra-imaginative mind.  Yet we can only wonder if any place, even in the First World countries, has the intelligence capability to monitor and subvert any such attack of a major scale, let alone the readiness to respond.

But we all know that evil can never win, even if it seems to get the upper hand for now.  At the final round, the outcome had been revealed in Scriptures – the powers of darkness in this world will one day be trampled underfoot once and for all.

Prelude to a Blogger’s Journey

Hello, world!  It’s good to finally break into this virtual space after a long wait.  A lot of friends have urged me to start my own blog years ago, but so much was going on in my life then to give it much thought.  Now that I’ve retired from the corporate world, there’s plenty of time in my hands so I might as well make the minutes count.  This preoccupation provides just the right stimulus for my brain cells to engage in mental calisthenics to keep me from slipping into a sedentary lifestyle and prevent me from hitting the doldrums.

As I start writing on a fresh, new slate, let me just state that I’m not out to please or impress; I will not even attempt to compete.  Out there is an expanse vast enough to accommodate anyone and everyone who wish to stake a claim over this medium of self-expression.  As cliché-ish as it may sound, “Different strokes for different folks” offers a sound argument.  Still, with every activity comes responsibility.  Everything is subject to interpretation.  A lot of times, the meaning gets lost in the translation.  At the end of the day, after all is said and done, what will render judgment is good conscience.  With ears close to the ground to sharpen sensitivity to sensibilities, due respect for others will keep us above board and within ethical bounds.

In the days ahead, as often as opportunity permits, I look forward to serving a slice of life from my 4 I’s menu: (real-life) Incidents, Insights and Inspirations plus (tidbits of) Information.  Be they random thought bubbles, day-to-day occurrences and dalliances, or files retrieved from my data bank, may they make or save even just one soul’s day.

Till next……..