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Intramuros Administration makes plans for museum in Walled City

Friday, June 12, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]

By Johanna M. Sampan, Reporter

An estimated $2 billion to $3 billion, or roughly P100-billion to P140-billion worth of precious artifacts are currently stored in various places in Intramuros waiting to be housed in a museum.

The Intramuros Administration (IA), together with Ateneo de Manila University, recently announced its intent to transform the reconstructed San Ignacio and Jesuits’ Casa Misiones into Museo de Intramuros.

“We need a museum that focuses only on Intramuros to tell its story,” said Intramuros Administator Bambi Harper. The museum plans to cater to both tourists and students.

The planned Museo de Intramuros is an addition to the six already existing historical sites in the former Walled City. The six sites are San Agustin Church, which holds a private collections of religious artifacts; Fort Santiago that mainly houses memorabilia of National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal; Casa Manila, a house museum that is a replica of a Binondo house; Balay Tsinoy a museum of Chinese history in the country; Department of Tourism’s Museum of Philippine History; and Archdiocese of Manila Museum that displays a collection of ecclesiastical art.

During an exclusive closed-door meeting held recently, Harper explained that the future Museo de Intramuros would house artifacts including the latest discoveries from excavations within the Walled City. These finds include earthenware shard with inscription at the shoulder, blue and white ware, shell fragments, animal remains, Ching Pai ware, Song jars and Manila ware.

Priceless relics

An estimated 2,000 to 6,000 artifacts that include furniture, jewelry and ecclesiastical arts are to be displayed in the museum. Included in the precious collection are an 18th century Chalice with Paten and Ciborium. The silver gilt chalice stands at 22.5 centimeter adorned with rococo design while the gold ciborium measures 25 centimeter in height.

Another priceless artifact is an 18th century relief of the Virgin of the Apocalypse carved on a molave wood. This relic, which belongs to the Jacinto family chapel in Polo, Bulacan, is one of the biggest in the wood relief collection of Intramuros. It is 243cm tall and 216cm wide.

Another impressive item is a 19th century vestry cabinet made from tindalo wood with kamagong and carabao bone inlays that has a width of 113 cm and length of 237.5 cm.

A number of 16th to 17th century Marian images made from solid ivory are also included in the collection. The icon Immaculada Concepcion stands at 18.5cm without its base while the Mother and Child, with traces of gold leaf, measures 8cm by 24.5 cm.

“There’s urgency to do this project because the artifacts are deteriorating. We will make sure that the museum will house the artifacts well,” said Maribel Ongpin, a member of the board of directors and Museum Foundation president.

Timetable

Harper said the whole project was slated to start right away and was expected to be completed before June 2010.

Around P400 million is needed to fund the whole restoration project. To date, the Intramuros Authority has only secured a total of P100-million funding from the government. Besides the agency, four architects will spearhead the project—Augusto Villalon, Michael Manalo, Augusto Rustia and Nelson Aquino.

Museo de Intramuros will feature themes like history and technology construction, role of institutions such as government, military, religion, education and business, major events, arts as well as lifestyle. Other interesting facets of the project are the Escuella Taller de Intramuros, the galleon trade exhibit and a public library and lecture hall.

“We need a repository to preserve the irreplaceable artifacts that we already have. These collections were found all over the country, making them very priceless,” said Conrado Escudero, also a member of the board of directors of the Museo de Intramuros. “We can’t live without our heritage because that means we don’t have anything to look back to,” he added.

Escudero sees the opportunity of attracting more tourists through the planned museum. Despite having six museums in the Intramuros already, he said that Museo de Intramuros would highlight the history of Intramuros. “The existing museums cater to different histories, therefore having the Museo de Intramuros will just add more cultural learning not just for the tourists but most especially for our people.”

Harper, with the board members of the Intramuros Authority, is appealing to the government to release the money needed to fund the construction of the museum.

Escudero asked, “What is P400 million in preserving our heritage? If they can give millions to other projects, why not to this culture-bound project?”

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