We need more museums than malls. I sure am glad we have another National Museum opening its doors real soon. On October 29, 2017, National Museum of the Philippines celebrated its 116th year anniversary. As a treat, they opened the National Museum of Natural History for a day. It was a great way to preview what the museum would offer once it officially opens sometime early 2018. With this development, Manila adds another knowledge enriching landmark to compliment the Fine Arts, Anthropology and Filipino People Museum in Manila.
If there’s one thing I noticed, America is really proud of their military. I don’t think it is mostly about patriotism on their part but giving respect and due to those who served for their country. America invested a lot on their military technology and it follows that it pours through their people. Those in the military, past and present, gets benefits like considerable discounts at establishments to family perks. In my visit to the USA, my brother-in-law, suggested I visit the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. I wasn’t surprised really. To know America is to know its military. Besides, it would be interesting to see the now decommissioned USS Midway (CV–41) aircraft carrier which used to be the largest ship in the world until 1955. It even made its way to the Philippines after its deployment.
There was a night in Sibaltan, El Nido where a group of performers from the Sibaltan Heritage Society (SHC) showcased a few Cuyonon folk dances. Cuyonons, are an ethno-linguistic group that originated from Cuyo Island. I watch at least five pairs of young boys and girls enthusiastically dance on the sand, under somewhat dim light of the night from Tapik Beach resort. The sound coming from a boom box was all treble with scratchy bass but the performance was all heart and passion as we could see the expressions from the young performers as they execute dance steps highly Spanish-influenced, often upbeat to jumpy with a lot of swirl movements from the girl. I could not understand the lyrics but I was told these dances are often about Cuyonon life – livelihood, courtship, marriage that are often depicted with witty naughtiness to slightly obscene which is a character of Cuyonon songs. Watching this humble spectacle made me imagine how the Cuyonons manage to cross the Sulu Seas, traversing at least 100 nautical miles to reach the shores of Paragua, what we know now as the land of Palawan. The newly built Pangko Maritime Museum in Sibaltan, sheds some light into the history of Cuyonon migration.
Five years after my first visit to Laperal White House in Baguio City, there was a movie (which I haven’t seen), an iWitness Documentary and thousands of searches referred to my old post. There were even several invites to guest or talk about the house and a number of inquiries from researchers. I guess Filipino love horror stories. Something to scare themselves sometimes. It was only five years after when I got to revisit the place again. Now open to the public as a Bamboo Art Exhibit, visitors can now indulge themselves and unravel the mystery of this famous White House.
Manila was dumped by more than a month’s rain in August, finding it a bit difficult to go around. The unusual habagat (southwest winds) rains caused major floods in the Metro but that didn’t dampen our eagerness to travel. Once abated, a window opened to travel to Kalinga, a province I have longed wanted to visit, not only to see the famous mambabatok Fang-Od (Whang-od), but the curiosity to see the land of the head-hunters.
June is always an exciting time as I get to join and become a part-time guide to a Jim Cline Photography Tour in the Philippines conducted by international photographer Karl Grobl. It’s nice to know that the Philippines is gaining ground as an international photo tour destination. They were telling me it was unexpected that the Philippines Tour was filling up fast. And this year we had a full house so it was an exciting 6-day North Luzon leg from Vigan to Sagada (via Cervantes) then to Baguio and Manila. It’s great to be with different photographers and see their photographic styles and vision.
“I knew that man during my younger years. When I see that bust, I can still imagine him speaking to me” said Pastor Hermie, our guide for that day as we ventured to the farther south regions of Culion Island on a motorbike. He was referring to the grotesque bust figure greeting visitors of the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archive after a flight of stairs to the 2nd floor. Just the thought that the figure was an actual leper sent a chill on my spine as I imagine his mummified figure. Stories such as this is common in Culion Island, whose present inhabitants are one way or another are 2nd or 3rd generation descendants of the thousands of leprosy patients who lived on the island. Its hard not to talk about the leprosy stigma that has befallen Culion when visiting the island and a good starting point to learn more about it is a visit to the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archive within the General Hospital compound.