Author: National Museum of the Philippines


The National Museum of the Philippines renewed its partnership with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines by extending the loan agreement of the 𝑴𝒐𝒏𝒖𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝑨𝒓𝒕𝒉𝒖𝒓 𝑾𝒂𝒍𝒔𝒉 𝑭𝒆𝒓𝒈𝒖𝒔𝒔𝒐𝒏, currently on display at the Spoliarium Hall of the National Museum of Fine Arts, for another three years.

Prior to the signing ceremony held yesterday, the National Museum of the Philippines’ Deputy Director-General for Museums Jorell Legaspi gave a brief overview of the provenance of the monument and its creator. It was followed by a message from the US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson who talked about the monument’s symbolism of the long-standing relationship between the United States and the Philippines.

The loan extension was then signed by NMP Director-General Jeremy Barns, Supervisory General Services Officer of the United States Department of State Daniel McCullough, Mr. Legaspi, and Amb. Carlson. After the signing of the documents, Director-General Barns gave his final remarks, recalling the collaborations between the NMP, the US Embassy, and various American institutions.

Other attendees present in the event included German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel, First Secretary of the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines Luis Morales Fernández, Bruneian Ambassador to the Philippines Megawati Dato Paduka Haji Manan, and DOT Undersecretary Atty. Shereen Gail Yu-Pamintuan. Representatives from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the National Parks Development Committee, the Intramuros Administration, and the Museum Foundation of the Philippines were also present, among others.

The monument, first loaned to the National Museum of the Philippines in 2017, was created in 1912 by Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure y Gil (1862-1947) in honor of Arthur Walsh Fergusson, the first Executive Secretary of the Philippines who held office until his death in 1908. The monument was originally erected and inaugurated in Plaza Fergusson (now the Plaza Nuestra Señora de Guia), adjacent to the US Embassy in Ermita, Manila on November 15, 1913. However, it sustained heavy damage during the Battle of Manila in 1945. Eventually, the City of Manila transferred ownership of the monument to the United States Embassy in the Philippines, who, in turn, later loaned it to the National Museum. The Fergusson Monument is the only monument of its kind to be made for an American in the Philippines and illustrates the shared history of the United States and the Philippines.

The National Museum of the Philippines expresses its deep gratitude to the United States Government for their generous support of the NMP and its mission.


In this week’s #BuiltTraditionThursday, we feature the Church of the Immaculate Conception of San Agustin, Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation and Cincture—more commonly known as the San Agustin Church—in Intramuros, Manila City. 

The outstanding universal value of the church as a cultural and artistic monument makes it not just a nationally recognized Cultural Treasure and Historical Landmark, but since 1993 the San Agustin Church has been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines. This all-stone church complex, completed in 1607, is the oldest stone church in the country, being relatively unchanged since its construction. San Agustin is built out of locally quarried adobe stone and lime mortar, and is designed in the Neoclassical-Baroque style. The floor plan of the church is that of a Latin cross within a rectangular boundary, with three aisles. Its Neoclassical-Baroque aesthetic is emphasized by the Ionic and Corinthian columns adorning its façade, its rose window, triangular pediment, and symmetricity. Furthermore, the intricately carved bas-relief on the main wooden doorways is distinctly proto-Baroque.

The interior of the church contains several distinct architectural features.  For one, the central nave of the church is topped by a barrel vault (also called boveda or media caña), broken by wall separations that divide the nave into six sections. The church is recognized as one of the few structures in the Philippines constructed with true barrel vaulting. A unique feature of the structural interior are the series of chapels lining both sides of the nave, these are originally fourteen cryptocollateral chapels, seven on either side of the nave; the walls separating these chapels act as buttresses (or structural supports), in the same manner as wandpfeiler (wall pillars) of German Baroque churches.

Directly above the narthex (or entry) of the church is the resplendent choir loft, another distinct feature. It is supported by two elliptical stone arches, accessible through an antechoir via the east corridor of the adjoining convent-monastery. The choir loft is notable for its sixty-eight carved molave stalls with fine inlay—made in 1606 under Fr. Miguel Serrano—and its extant narra wood construction, including its wooden railing. The choir loft also features a large, sculptural lectern imported from Macao in 1731.  Extensive restoration works have been conducted on the choir loft by Escuella Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc., from 2015 to 2018.

A vast majority of the interior space of the church is painted in artistic trompe l’oeil, including all the interior wall surfaces, ceiling, and dome soffit. Cesare Alberoni and Giovanni Dibella—Italian scenographers—were contracted in 1875 to execute the realistic imagery. Motifs of their Neoclassical revival style include wreaths, cornucopias, festoons, fleurettes, and Christian symbols and personages.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception of San Agustin–Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation and Cincture, assessed in its current condition, remains in a generally fair state of conservation. Critical areas regarding its maintenance due to its advanced age and modernized environment are known to the national cultural agencies, UNESCO, and key relevant authorities. The preservation and conservation of this World Heritage Site is of rightfully paramount concern, to allow the future generations of Filipinos—and all the peoples of the world—to appreciate its enduring outstanding universal value.


Spanish-era bridge in Sampaloc, quezon. AABHD 2022

For today’s #BuiltTraditionThursday, we are featuring one of the many towns in the Southern Tagalog rich with built heritage: the town of Sampaloc, and its old Spanish-era bridge.

Location of the Spanish bridge/ arch in Sitio Kakati, Barrio Bataan, Sampaloc, Quezon. It is situated in the midst of the north east agricultural area (coconut plantation and rice fields) of the town.

One of the pride of Southern Tagalog built heritage is the abundance of Spanish-era bridges, which is most common in the province of Quezon. Most of these bridges were built through the suggestion of the Franciscan friars, who governed the ecclesiastical province of San Gregorio Magno de Filipinas, which exercised jurisdiction over the then-Provincia de Tayabas. Engineer Antonio de la Camara of the Office of Public Works led the creation of bridges as part of a series of civil projects by the government during the last quarter of the 19th century. These bridges are clustered among the towns surrounding Mount Banahaw; Majayjay in Laguna, and Lucban, Tayabas town, and Pagbilao, in Tayabas Province.

The document belongs to the Record Series “Patronatos” from the collection of the National Archives entitled “Vista Clara y Specifica de la Poblacion de la Sampaloc, Provincia de Tayabas”, dated 7 July 1884. The plan and perspective shows
the large Maapon River which runs thru the whole población and waters the agricultural area of the town.  The crossing from the northeast side of the town is where the Spanish bridge is situated.

Provincia de Tayabas was not as accessible as Batangas, Laguna, or Cavite during the Spanish colonial period. Distance and bad roads–or lack thereof–hampered access to and from the province. Most travels were undertaken with steamboats from Manila via the Pasig River, into the Laguna de Bay, and docking in the town of Santa Cruz, from which the travelers have the option of taking a carromata to Pagsanjan, or a banca up the Rio de Pagsanjan. Travelers would then proceed by foot or horse to Tayabas town (the former provincial capital) or Lucban. The trip would usually take several days and requires the traveler to stop and rest in other towns along the way. It was common to visit the parish priest who would provide meager lodging in the church’s convent. Another trail to Tayabas town began from the mountain towns of Laguna; from Pagsanjan, travelers would go by carromata, horse, or by foot to the towns of Cavinti and Luisiana, ride up the mountain, and proceed towards Lucban and Tayabas town. This journey would similarly take the same number of days and be less traveled as opposed to the Majayjay route, which during the colonial period was a favorite destination. The more circuitous route was by boat to the port of Lucena, and then by carromata or by foot to Tayabas town. 

Below the bridge which shows an intact unreinforced masonry.

The Municipality of Sampaloc used to be a Barrio called Dingin in Lucban, consisting of three sitios. It was later renamed Sampaloc because of the presence of a large tamarind tree found in the center of the settlement during the earlier days. During that time, road and bridge projects were common, in order to provide connectivity and safe mobility to residents and visitors alike. The road from Sampaloc to Lucban begins by trail from the población down the river banks of the Maapon River, and crossing the tributary river in which the old bridge is situated. From the bridge, the trail would continue to Barrio Bayongon and cross several plains and hills to Barrio Piis, a barangay of Lucban leading to the town proper. 

The single arch span bridge.  

This particular bridge was built in Sitio Kakati, Barangay Bataan, Sampaloc, Quezon in 1888. It stretches 18.20 meters across the entire river and does not have any central piers in the water for support. The internal segmented arch has a 12.05-meter distance from the two 3.07-meter pillars. The unreinforced masonry has a facing stone made of volcanic tuff/ adobe blocks (or locally called ‘dado’) which range from 0.50 by 0.30 meters each. The presence of dirt and black deposits with vegetal growth and higher plants have caused minor losses on stone facings and moldings. The lack of human intervention in the bridge for the past few centuries makes it authentic to its original architectural character, while the pillars supporting the arch remain intact with no signs of deformation, indicating that the bridge has a stable foundation and sub-structure.

On 3 to 5 April 2023, the NMP’s AABHD conducted a workshop on cleaning and basic conservation guidelines for unreinforced masonry walls.

Recognizing its historical and cultural importance, the National Museum of the Philippines declared the bridge an Important Cultural Property on 5 December 2018, and a marker was unveiled last 23 April 2023. 

The ICP marker, unveiled by Mayor Noel Angelo T. Devanadera of Sampaloc, Quezon, and representatives of the National Museum of the Philippines witnessed by the Local Government Unit of Sampaloc.

#NationalMuseumPH #Sampaloc #SampalocQuezon


Eid Mubarak! The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) joins the Filipino nation in celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. This festival commemorates all the virtues that unify the Islamic faith. Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad got the first revelation of the Holy Quran during Ramadan. Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr focus on three of the five pillars found in the Quran that are central to Islam – Sawn (fasting), Salat (praying), and Zakat (charity).

While the NMP is closed for today’s celebrations, we present two of the most important items in this religious practice of the Maranao Muslims – The Quran of Bayang and the Dabu-dabu. 

The Quran of Bayang is considered both a National Cultural Treasure and one of the earliest manuscripts in Lanao. This manuscript was named “Maradika” (similar to “Merdeka” in the Malay language meaning “freedom”) following the practice of bestowing a specific name on each existing copy of the Quran, because of the limited copies available to Muslims in Lanao Del Sur during the early years of Islam in the area. The Maradika was believed to have been passed on to Saidna’s descendants and thus regarded as a family heirloom. It is one of the few copies of the Quran translated into a non-Arabic, Malay-related language and handwritten in Arabic calligraphy. 

Moreover, the Dabu-dabu is a signaling instrument horizontally suspended in front of the mosque and is used to call people for prayers. It symbolizes the gathering of Muslims to observe their religious obligation, and is typically made out of wood with a floral motif carved all over its body.

Come and visit the National Museum of Anthropology and see the Quran of Bayang and Dabu-dabu, part of the National Ethnographic Collection and displayed in the Bangsamoro Art: Faith, Tradition, and Place exhibition. The National Museum of the Philippines will resume operations tomorrow, April 22, 2023. The NMP’s flagship museums are open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is FREE.

#NationalMuseumPH #NMPEidAlFitr #IslamicFaithFestival2023


As we reflect on the passion and death of Jesus Christ this Holy Week, the #NationalMuseumPH is sharing some photographs of the flagellation rituals in Marinduque. These photographs were taken by Mr. George W. Bolin (1904 – 1963) when he served with the Public Health Service of Manila from 1935–1937. The images were donated by his daughter, Dr. Anne Bolin, Professor Emerita of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Elon University in North Carolina, to the National Museum of the Philippines in March 2022.

On Good Friday, in observance of the Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross), a number of penitents would join the procession while flagellating themselves. This practice is referred to as ‘antipo’ in Marinduque. Historically, penitents would cover their faces to solemnize their ‘panata’ (vow) and keep their identities hidden, even from their families. Before joining the procession, they would prepare themselves spiritually in the cemetery by reciting prayers. Afterwards, they would proceed to the ‘magkakadlit’, or the person who makes the first incision on their backs with a blade. Throughout the procession, they would repeatedly beat their wounded backs with a bunch of bamboo sticks attached to a rope to draw more blood and inflict pain to commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ. Customarily, the number of sticks indicates the number of years the penitent intends to practice his panata. Self-flogging and additional cuts are done until the hour of Christ’s death at 3:00 PM, after which they would wash themselves in the river or sea, formally ending the antipo ritual.

If you wish to know more about the different practices and expressions of panata carried out during Semana Santa (Holy Week), and the annual observance of the passion and death of Christ held around late March or early April, you may visit the Moryonan: Faith and Devotion exhibition at the NMP Marinduque-Romblon Area Museum in Boac, Marinduque.

Text by the NMP Ethnology Division

Photos by Mr. George W. Bolin through Dr. Anne Bolin

#NationalMuseumPH #SemanaSanta2023 #GoodFriday #Flagellation


The National Museum of the Philippines joins Christians around the world in observing the Holy Week, or “Semana Santa”. In preparation for the upcoming solemnities, we are featuring one of our exhibitions, “The Stations of the Cross” (also known as “Via Crucis”).

The Via Crucis exhibition, located in Gallery II of the National Museum of Fine Arts, features 14 oil paintings on wood panels made by an unknown Bohol master in 1830. These are among the oldest surviving series of artworks depicting the passion and sacrifice of Christ in the country. The identity of its creator and from which particular church these paintings originated are unknown. Despite this, their provenance from Bohol can be ascertained through the depictions of the iconic Chocolate Hills in the backgrounds of certain panels. Due to their age, quality, and size, these remarkable artworks may have been owned by the older and wealthier parishes of Bohol.

Via Crucis artworks conventionally depict the Passion of Christ in great detail; from Christ’s condemnation by Pontius Pilate to His entombment. This particular series, which is currently on loan from the collection of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, is distinctly exceptional due to its portrayal of the events having occurred in Bohol. Furthermore, the Roman soldiers depicted in this series were rendered with hooked noses, which may have been influenced by 15th-century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. 

Via Crucis artworks are usually affixed on the interior walls of a church or chapel. However, it could also be found in cemeteries, hospital corridors, religious houses, or on mountainsides. During the Holy Week, especially on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, devout Roman Catholics would often stand before certain stations and pray with relevant passages from the scripture before each station to meditate on the passion of Christ. 

May the Holy Week be a reminder for all Christians to renew their faith and recollect God’s sacrifices and great love for all.

Text by Carolina Magdaleno/NMP CMVOD

Poster by Ken Carl Bañares/NMP CMVOD

#SemanaSanta2023 #HolyWeek2023 #NationalMuseumPH