Christmas at the Dizon-Ramos Museum

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By Luci Lizares

Saturday, December 14, 2013

IF there’s one thing brownouts can make you do, it’s terminating what you’re doing with electrical aid and divert to something else. Well, the brownout that afternoon did just that and so the best alternative was to bring my apo, Iñigo, to the Dizon Museum.

I was present the day when the Dizon-Ramos Museum was inaugurated. That was Assumption day, Aug. 15, 2007, a year after Tita Hermelinda Ramos Dizon peacefully passed away.

The museum showcased the lifestyle of the Dizon-Ramos family. As a brief backgrounder, the house of Raymundo Lumanlan Dizon of Porac, Pampanga and Hermelinda Villanueva Ramos of Bacolod City was constructed in 1950 (the same year our home was built) by Architect Perfecto Marzoña for just P60,000.

The home is very typical of most homes of the era with the second floor serving as the living quarters of the family and the ground floor was the garage and the office of their farms.

The Dizon-Ramos Museum over the years has evolved with the many and varied exhibits. This Christmas Season, the museum is transformed into a Christmas house with the sundry collection of Bella Rivas Galang.

Making your entrance, you are greeted by Victorian dolls with their fragile porcelain faces and arms, glass eyes and period gowns. Then we were ushered by Raymond Alunan, the museum’s curator, into the Marina Montinola Silos Key Chain Gallery. I knew Tita Marina with that beautiful Shirley Temple face but I never knew she had this vast collection. They say that her favorite was the Bible keychain.

Apres, Raymond brought us to the main house where it was Christmas in every nook and corner with the treasures of Bella Rivas Galang. Born in Aug. 14, 1930 in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, Bella is the youngest daughter of Florentino Gatchalian Galang Sr. of San Simon, Pampanga and Concepcion Tonogbanua Rivas of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental whose father was General Fermin Zulueta Rivas, a general during the Philippine Revolution against Spain, from Tigbauan, Iloilo.

A graduate of Bachelor of Music major in Piano from the Conservatory of Music, University of the Philippines-Diliman, she likewise studied French and was sent by the French Embassy for further French studies in 2005 to Hyeres, France. These two passions, music and French, Bella continues to nurture and pursue as she teaches in La Consolacion College.

The first room we entered was the Elmo room in the second floor. Bella has over 40 plus of Elmo stuff toys. Iñigo, my apo, enjoyed looking and listening to the talking Elmo, a furry red monster who speaks with his falsetto voice when you pinch his nose.

The entire sala is Santa’s hall, a collection of almost 300+ Santa’s, from the smallest to a six-foot tall statue. I like Santa Clauses despite it being the commercial side of Christmas and there were many pieces that caught my eye.

Angels were perched everywhere in the bedrooms of the family while Nativity sets took center stage in the dining area. My favorite was the one with a Filipino setting complete with lechon being roasted.

An interesting note about Bella’s doll collection is how she acquired some of them. In 1956, her first doll came from Finland. The whirlwind courtship of the First Miss Universe Armi Kuusela of Finland to our handsome Filipino Virgilio Hilario garnered international interest and Bella was likewise caught with this romance.

There were no emails or internet at the time but Bella was impassioned with her love for dolls. She joined the pen pal club wherein she exchanged traditional dolls with her 200 pen friends. She would write diligently to Kings, Presidents and other Government Officials asking for traditional dolls from their countries. And her efforts were not for naught because she did get replies from these famous personalities who sent her dolls of their countries. Among them were President Askar Akayeb of Kyrgystan, President Ceausescu of Romania, King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, The Shah of Iran, Rezah Pablevi, President Park of Korea, President Chiang Kai – Shek of Taiwan and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Her trips abroad added to her collection. Interesting too are her Filipiniana dolls. She has one acquired from world renowned Filipino sculptor Solomon Saprid in 1970’s. Her Barbie dolls in native costumes are designed by Patis Tesoro. How’s that for haute couture? Regional native costumed dolls were sent by governors, mayors and other government officials during the Centennial of the Philippine Revolution 1996-1998.

As they say, the cherry of the ice cream is the Christmas Village at the ground floor of the Dizon-Ramos Museum. Divided into different sections and communities like the leisure island, the downtown district, the government center, residential, and the two other islands across the main land. In the residential area, one house stood out for me which was the Balay ni Tana Dicang. How wonderful of the museum to include it in their collection.

Whereas Iñigo was ho-hum with the earlier collections, while I was totally impressed, his eyes however lighted up when the Christmas Village performed her charm with lights and sounds.

The Holy Land Gallery at the farthest end of the ground floor should not be missed. This is a collection of Brother Rolly Dizon during his stay in Jerusalem. There are many items that are truly noteworthy. Also very interesting is the mural on the wall which is 3-D. A photo opt puts you right on the spot like you are actually in the temple.

Brownouts are not really welcome treats but sometimes it transports you from your grueling pace and connects you to the outside wonder that is out there.

The museum opens from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week for the whole month of December. Entrance fee is P40 for adults and P20 for students.

For more information, visit the museum’s Facebook account: or call 434-8512.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 14, 2013.


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