Skip to main content

Manila Nostalgia


I've been friends with Jonathan Lim for a little more than 37 years now, he was my classmate in high school. Jonathan was the kind of student who wasn't bookish but extraordinarily smart. He lost his father sometime before we graduated, and he started working right after high school at the Pines Hotel Casino in Baguio to support his family. After his stint at the casino, he qualified to enter the US Navy, and there he saw much of the world, giving security to his family at the same time. Now retired and taking his masters, he visits every year or so, and every time, we set aside time to catch up and reminisce. For his visit this year, I planned a nostalgic tour of Manila. I wanted to show him how beautifully curated our National Museum is today. 
Joining our tour is a good friend of mine from a much younger generation, Kimi Lu. Kimi is a life coach and a plus size model, a bundle of protons.

A visit to the National Museum is free of charge on Sundays and you'll see an appreciative crowd of young people going. It's a good vibe you get, knowing more and more people are learning to love their heritage, and taxpayers' money is put to good use.
I especially love the galleries of the old masters. Mostly portraits of the elite and the intelligentsia, it gives you a glimpse how life was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their dress styles, manners, and nuances. An afternoon is not enough to absorb all the visual stories of heroes, and great beauties.

From the National Museum, we headed to Malate Church to hear the 5pm Mass. Located in Manila's former fashion district, I often visited this church in my younger years to hear Mass or pray the Rosary. After Mass, we crossed the street to another old haunt, the Aristocrat restaurant where the boneless chicken barbecue is a must. Not ready to call it a day, we went to Diamond Hotel for dessert. Kimi and Jonathan ordered the baked cheesecake ice cream and I had the ube-filled ensaymada with coffee.
Cultural, spiritual, gastronomical, our kind of Sunday.



Guillermo E. Tolentino: Untitled (Diwata)reinforced concrete, ca. 1950s, 2.9 x 1.2m
Gift from the heirs of Hermogenes S. Reyes and Teodora Tantoco-Reyes

The National Museum's piece de resistance, Juan Luna's Spoliarium

Fermin Gomez: A Plea For Freedom From Fear, Plaster of Paris, 1949, National Fine Art Collection

Carlos V. Francisco, National Artist for Painting (1912-1969): The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines


Fernando Amorsolo Y Cueto (1892-1972) National Artist for Painting (1972)
Portrait of Jose B. Laurel as Speaker, Gift from the Family of Jose B. Laurel, 1954, Oil on canvas
Portrait of Manuel Roxas as President, commissioned from the artist by President Elpidio Quirino, 1950, Oil on canvas

A simulation of Fernando Amorsolo's work space

Fernando Amorsolo Y Cueto (1892-1972); National Artist for Painting (1972)
Portrait of Mrs. Banks 1956, Oil on Canvas

Fernando Amorsolo Y Cueto (1892-1972) National Artist for Painting (1972)
Portrait of Julieta Abad-Rufino (1916-2001) 1951, Oil on Canvas, Gift of the Family of Rafael R. Rufino, Jr.
Portrait of Felicidad Cruz-Castro, 1963, Oil on Canvas, On Loan from the Family of Felicidad Cruz-Castro

Cesar Amorsolo (1903-1998): Painted Window of Christ the King
ca. 1946 (signed Caesar Amorsolo), Oil on glass, Gift of the Heirs of Petronilo L. del Rosario, Sr.

Guillermo E. Tolentino: Bust of Luisa Marasigan, Polychromed resin, Undated, Collection of Frederick Y. Dy

 Guillermo E. Tolentino: Model of the Commonwealth Triumphal Arc, Bonded marble and polychrome resin
Undated, Frederick Y. Dy Collection

The Luis I. Ablaza Hall

Gallery of the Via Crucis of an Unknown Bohol Artist



An Unknown Artist: Portrait of Three Ladies, 1894, Oil on tin sheet

An Unknown Artist: Portrait of Two Students of the Ateneo Municipal de Manila from Pasig
Late 19th century, Oil on Canvas

Felix Gonzales: Portrait of Dr. José Rizal, Oil on canvas, 1962

Juan Luna Y Novicio
center: Una Bulaqueña, 1895, Oil on canvas
right: Portrait of a Lady, Undated, Oil on wood

Isabelo Tampinco Y Lacandola (1859-1933): Bust of a Mestiza Filipina in Maria Clara
ca. 1880, Polychromed plaster of Paris


The Old Session Hall of the Senate of the Philippines


Juan Luna Y Novicio (1857-1899): Interior d'un Café (Parisian Life) 1892, Oil on canvas

The galleries on the upper level houses Modernist Art

Edgar Talusan Fernandez: Arko ng Pagkakaisa para sa Kalayaan, 1984, Oil on canvas


Emilio Aguilar Cruz: Paris, 1980, Pen and ink on paper

Jose P. Alcantara (1911-2005): Ina ng Lahi (Mother of Filipinos), 1952, Narra wood


Kimi, Jonathan, and I didn't realise there was a sleeping lady at the other end of the bench when he had our group shot. I pixelated her face to protect her privacy.
The newly restored Malate Church


An all time favourite, Aristocrat

Aristocrat's famous Boneless Barbecue Chicken and Java Rice


Diamond Hotel's Baked Cheesecake Ice Cream

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Vintage Valera

A couple of years ago, Roselyn Tiangco brought me her mother's Ramon Valera bridal trousseau and asked if we can cut the train and use it for her wedding gown. It was a Philippine terno in ivory satin, with bugle beads cascading down the front like waterfalls and a 5 meter train trimmed with Guipure lace and tons of pearls. I was aghast with the thought - no, I wouldn't dare desecrate a Valera. Roselyn and I agreed not to touch the vintage gown, we collaborated instead on simple Dior inspired gown for her wedding.
Early this year, Roselyn's mom Mrs. Linda Tiangco brought the Valera gown again, this time it would be for her wedding anniversary. The 50 year old gown gown still fits her perfectly but the bodice was already discolored and some parts of the train were moth eaten. Mrs. Tiangco told me to take my time to study the gown and see what I can do with it. For a month or so, I was just looking at the gown on the dress form, hoping Mrs. Tiangco would change her mind and…

The House Of Dr. Luis Santos

Our tour of Malolos continues, from the Cojuangco ancestral house http://myrefrigeratordoor.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-cojuangco-ancestral-house.html, our gracious host Melecio Cojuangco brought us to the house of Dr. Luis Santos. Mel arranged the visit with one of the heirs of Dr. Santos, George Imperial. From the outside, one would already be in awe of the sheer size of the house. The house was built in 1933, according to the marker by the gate. Upon entering, you will marvel at the grand staircase, the expansive receiving room and the foyer filled with hard bound medical books and mementos of Dr. Santos' career as a well loved doctor in this town. The second floor was something else, as our group slowly ascended the magnificent staircase, my heart literally skipped a beat at the sight of the ceiling mural and Art Deco details. We found out later that the mural was painted by the great Fernando Amorsolo himself. There was a private chapel in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes and a be…

The Cojuangco Ancestral House

Our next journey takes us to a historic town in Bulacan, thirty minutes north of Manila. My road trip buddies, my college friends who all share with me the same fascination for heritage houses were privileged by an invitation from Melecio Cojuangco to visit their ancestral house in Malolos. Mel, his cousin in law Marissa Lopa, Rima Datuin and Evelyn Bautista and I discovered each other's funny bonebecause of our love for the ice cream served in a huge bowl at Peninsula Manila's lobby. One evening, to justify our appetite, we pretended it was my birthday and we had the string quartet play happy birthday for me, from then on, we became good friends. Mel's grandfather, Jose Cojuangco was born at the Malolos house, very near the Barasoain Church. Jose's mother traded rice from Nueva Ecija, sacks transported by boat via the river at the back of the kamalig to Binondo, Manila. Like most turn of the century houses, the Cojuangco house uses piedra china stones for the ground …