WHENEVER we visit a foreign country for the first time, we usually do a little background check or attempt to research a bit to know more about its people, its history and perhaps also about the dominant religion of the place.
When I was sent on a scholarship grant to Japan in 1992 for a six-month course on video and television program production, I anticipated things like eating sushi and bowing in a gesture of respect to people whose government once invaded my country.
Of all the other places that I have been, I was most interested in visiting museums, landmarks and historical shrines and the most memorable ones include the Smithsonian Institution Museums in Washington DC, Ripley’s Believe it or Not in San Francisco and a living museum in Bangkok, Thailand.
Our own National Museum is also a memorable place to me because it is where I first saw the legendary mummy of Apo Anno sometime in 1985 while I was doing my indie films as a neophyte filmmaker. Located just within a stone throw away from the Manila City Hall, the country’s National Museum is an educational, scientific and cultural institution that acquires, documents, preserves, exhibits, and fosters scholarly study and public appreciation of works of art, specimens, and cultural and historical artifacts representative of our unique to the cultural heritage of the Filipino people and the natural history of the Philippines. It also manages the National Planetarium in Manila, as well as regional museums in key locations around the country.
According to its website, the National Museum has regional branches and these are; Angono, Padre Burgos, Kabayan, Kiangan, Magsingal, Bolinao, Palawan, Bohol, Butuan, Tabaco, Cebu, Fort Pilar, Marinduque and Jolo.
The Kiangan Museum located in the province of Ifugao is an ethnic museum which serves as a showcase of priceless Ifugao artifacts and ancient traditions. It stands on the historic PVAO compound facing the war memorial shrine. The shrine symbolizes the victory of the Allied Forces against the Japanese invasion forces during World War II and since the people of Kiangan still practice the 40-episode epic Hudhud chant, the National Museum declared it a National Cultural Treasure on November 14, 2001 and included in Unesco’s list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on May 18, 2001.
The Kabayan Branch Museum was likewise established to ensure the proper upkeep of the Kabayan Mummy Caves of Kabayan, Benguet as a National Cultural Treasure. The mummy caves are secret niches of the native tribes particularly the Ibalois and Kankanays located in the far-flung mountains of Benguet Province. I suppose it also include the cave of the legendary Apo Anno of Nabalikong, Buguias which I documented in 1998.
The National Museum manages and develops the national reference collections in the areas of cultural heritage, natural history, and carries out permanent research programs in biodiversity, geological history, human origins, pre-historical and historical archaeology, maritime and underwater cultural heritage, ethnology, art history, and moveable and immoveable cultural properties. Also, the National Museum serves as a regulatory and enforcement agency of the government with respect to a series of cultural laws, and is responsible for various culturally significant properties, sites and reservations throughout the country. It is the lead agency in the official commemoration of Museums and Galleries Month, which is the month of October, every year.
The existence of the National Museum is anchored on the basic philosophy that the Filipino nation is kept unified by a deep sense of pride in its own identity, cultural heritage and natural patrimony. The national identity of the Filipino must be developed and enhanced, while imbibing the spirit of nationalism and strong commitment in the protection and dissemination of its legacy.
Following Baguio’s designation as Unesco Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts, several activities are already being lined up for the months of October and November and this includes visits to places of interests such as creative hubs, crafts and productivity centers and even museums such as the Baguio Museum Inc., Museo Kordilyera and Bencab Museum.
As of this writing, I am also gearing up my modest newseum as it is included in the Creative Crawl Map of the Department of Tourism’s ENTAcool...2018 Baguio Creative Festival slated on November 8 to 18 this year.
Recently, I received a call from Baguio girl Caroline Juliet Tibayan about a surprise from film Director Mike De Leon and when I finally read the e-mail note from the notable director of “Citizen Jake” saying that he is letting go of one of his possessions, an Arriflex cine camera, "maybe you have use for them in your museum, which I hope to see soon. They're old and kinda beat up but I've kept them for so many years but now as I grow older, I realize that they belong to a place where people can see them. They have shot countless films including some of mine." I almost jumped out of excitement.
I immediately rushed to Direk Mike’s place but I failed to see him personally as he already left Baguio few minutes before I arrived at his place along Gibraltar Road. I truly appreciate his kind gestures and appreciation to significant and historic events that took place in the country especially in the so-called dark years of Martial Law.
Direk Mike De Leon entrusted to me his now media dinosaur Arriflex film camera, a heavy duty fluid head tripod and other items such as a film-slide video converter, 8mm film projector and some accessories that will definitely be a part of the cinema section of my media museum listed in Google Map as Art World and Media Newseum which I hope to expand in the near future. I also wish to thank many friends who donated their old and historic media items such as stamps, radio tubes, cameras, VCRs, vinyl records and many more. I actually collect other items such as fossils, autographed books, literary pieces, old photographs as well as prints and artworks. Since my place near the university belt is really tight ideal only to a dozen visitors at a time, I also look forward to partner with an entity willing to consider my concept of a newseum café even outside Baguio as this concept of mine is not only intended for museum and coffee enthusiasts but the same public that are curious on checking new and old things of interest especially in the field of media and communications.