History and Culture

Let This Museum Kick-off Your Manila Experience!

Metro Manila

Gari Sy Rivera
Gari Sy Rivera | Mar 04, 2020

Photos by author

The historical district of Intramuros is known for its beautiful Spanish-era landmarks and preserved architecture, truly a go-to spot for those in and out of Manila. As you head off and explore the Walled city, consider this museum as your starting point!

Museo Filipino is a photo exhibit gallery that gives you all the must-know details of Philippine history. From the pre-colonial period until modern Philippine times, the historical museum gallery narrates the evolution of the country through its various pillars and illustrations, giving visitors more reasons to fall in love with the Philippines.

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Knowing how famous spots and must-see finds such as relics and artifacts in the city are acclaimed because of their stories, museum owner Atty. Katrina Borra relates how these can be much more appreciated when learned upon their history. “You know you hear about them, you see them but you really don’t know them until you read about it when you’re there.” Inspired to shine a spotlight on the history behind all these places, Atty. Borra decided to have Museo Filipino narrate the story of the Philippines through its alternative museum design. “We looked around and realized that there are not many museums that give you history, not much information,” Atty. Borra recalls, “This gives you a timeline all the way to the end.”

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Glimpses of the country’s beginnings and beyond are seen in the gallery’s panels, featuring relevant details and pieces of culture from each time period, like the pre-colonial and Spanish colonial times. Panels display reproduced photo sketches from Spain that depict the periodical way of life and culture, including sketches of cockfighting activities of Filipinos in the 1840s, popular Filipino games like sipa, traditional folk dances like El Cundiman, and archival images the Manila Cathedral and the Pasig River's docks and sailing boats. “These are all pictures of how the Philippines was before,“ Atty. Borra shares, adding that these were depictions by Filipino painter Jose Lazano, “In the 1800s, since there weren’t any cameras back then, he just drew whatever he saw in Manila and all other parts.”

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The informative panels cover all periods and historic events in the country, including the American rule, Commonwealth administration, the Japanese occupation, the Martial Law era, the Third Republic and other significant times of Philippine history. The lives and accomplishments of national heroes are also featured on boxes artfully stacked as pillars.

Not only does the museum give you a crash-course or refresher of Philippine history, but it also provides tasty meals and refreshments at their in-house café Intramuros Rooftop that comes with a breathtaking view of Manila and known areas within it, such as the San Agustin Church, Manila Hotel, and many more. 

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Purposely tied together in a life-size timeline, the museum was meant to have its visitors learn from the exhibit in less than an hour. Yet, even in the short tour of Museo Filipino, one can gain a lot of takeaways by the end of it. “We want people to learn something, we felt that there was a void in the museums here about that,” Atty. Borra expresses, sharing that Museo Filipino is not the look-just-to-see or walk through kind of museum, but rather an eye-opening and learning experience. “I want a tourist who only has one day here in Manila to be able to read through it and say 'Oh, so that’s why the Philippines is like that, this is their history.'”

Visit Museo Filipino at the JSC Building on 423 Magallanes St., Intramuros. They are open from 9 AM-5 PM.

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