There’s a new museum in town, and it’s high time you pay a visit!
The Museo de Intramuros, which is located inside the historical Intramuros a.k.a. the Walled City, was built in two important reconstructed sites—the San Ignacio Church and the Mission House of the Society of Jesus. The San Ignacio Church, which was completed in 1889, was the Jesuits’ “Golden Dream”… only for it to burn down during the Battle of Manila in 1945, when the Walled City saw the complete devastation of its historical buildings and stone churches. For decades, the church lay in ruins. Private developers expressed interest in the area, but nothing materialized, and eventually, communities within Inramuros took over, turning it into a basketball court. Finally, the Intramuros Administration made a decision: they will reconstruct the rubble and build a museum in its place. Working tirelessly since 2011, the organization’s efforts paid off: a majestic museum now stands, a keeper of the country’s history.
Museum-goers are in for a treat with six exhibits presenting the story of evangelization in the Philippines. One of them is the Immaculate Conception exhibit, which includes various wood-carved images of the Virgin Mary. Another one is the Religious Orders exhibit, with its images of saints of the first religious orders that came to the Philippines: Augustinians, Franciscans, Dominicans, the Jesuits, and the Augustinian Recollects. The Patronato Real exhibit presents the early parishes and their various artworks forwarded to the Department of Tourism, while the Religious Colonial Paintings exhibit is made up of artifacts collected from the ruins of old colonial churches all over the country. One exhibit contains an array of liturgical items and vessels, while another, called the Indio Response, reveals how Filipino artisans reacted to the Catholic evangelization brought about by the colonization.
According to Dr. Esperanza Gatbonton, one of the exhibits’ curators, the museum’s collection is both precious and relevant. “This collection of the Intramuros Administration is extremely valuable because it represents the first real attempt to collate and preserve within the Philippines an important aspect of the country’s cultural heritage,” she said. Aside from Gatbonton, artist Gino Gonzales, University of the Philippines (UP) Art Studies Professor Dr. Cecilia dela Paz, UP Fine Arts Professor Santiago Pilar, and historian Martin Tinio, Jr. also curated the museum’s first exhibits.
The Intramuros Administration’s rehabilitation efforts are not yet finished—there is still a second phase for the Museo de Intramuros, which includes the renovation of the interior of the San Ignacio Church replica and the completion of its belfries. The museum will also house more items with the mission to preserve and rehabilitate the country’s cultural heritage.
Museo de Intramuros officially opened on May 2 and is offering free entrance for the next six months. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Tuesdays to Fridays until further notice.