Author: National Museum of the Philippines

Arayu, the Ivatan gold

It’s Fish Conservation Week! Meet Arayu, the Ivatan gold.

Did you know that for 2 months each year, mataw fisherfolks go out to sea in search of Common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus)?

Locally known to Ivantans as arayu, it is a migratory fish that passes by the inner shores of Batanes during dry seasons.  It is widely known in the country as dorado (Spanish for gold), or internationally as mahi-mahi and is a favorite game fish. Arayu inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans and is highly migratory. They can be found in shallow waters to 85 meters deep and are a prized game and commercial fish worldwide. 

Mataw fishers seize the seasonal opportunity of angling arayu, a tradition that is passed on to many generations of Ivatans. Around April and May, an abundance of arayu and several species of flying fish enter the calmer nearshore waters, which makes angling easier. Families move closer to their vanua or port for the duration of this season, leaving behind their farms momentarily. Their daily catch is processed for filleting and drying to extend the shelf life of the fish meant as a reserve during leaner months. These dried goods are distributed among the community after the closure of mataw fishing season, where priority is given to locals, and only the excess is sold to non-Ivatans. 

This short time span of traditional fishing has an unintended positive impact on the management of fishing for these migratory species, where the prohibition of commercial fishing and implementation of a closed season allows for the recovery of remaining wild populations in the sea.

What we can learn from this traditional way of fishing is that harvesting from our seas can be sustainable. Science-based management of our natural resources will benefit both the environment and the people who rely on these resources for sustenance. As individuals, we can contribute to protecting our marine resources simply by limiting our waste generation, joining coastal cleanups, and not polluting the environment.



Text and poster by Jasmin Meren of NMP Zoology Division.

Art Stroll Sunday Feature “Portrait of an Old Woman”

Happy Grandparent’s Day! Have you been to our museums with your lolo and lola?

This #ArtStrollSunday and in celebration of Grandparents’ Day, we are featuring a 1947 oil painting entitled “Portrait of an Old Woman” by Araceli Limcaco-Dans from the National Fine Arts Collection.

This work, currently on exhibit at The Early 20th Century Philippine Portrait Hall (Gallery IX) of the National Museum of Fine Arts was painted by the artist in 1947 when she was a freshman at the University of the Philippines’ School of Fine Arts. She was trained by Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino who eventually became our country’s first declared National Artists for Painting and Sculpture, respectively.  The “Portrait of an Old Woman” was registered as a government property in 1948, the year after this painting was completed. The National Fine Arts Collection currently has one other work of the artist,”Yakap ng Kapayapaan” (2003, acrylic on canvas) which she generously gave as a Gift to the Nation through the #NationalMuseumPH in 2016. 

Araceli Limcaco-Dans was born in Manila in 1929. Aside from being a prolific artist, Dans is also an art educator and held top positions in art organizations. After completing her studies, she joined the Philippine Women’s University’s and was the first director of its Institute of Fine Arts and Design which she headed until 1963. She also set up the art program of the Ateneo Grade School. From 1972 to 1973, Dans was also elected as vice president of the Arts Association of the Philippines, and eventually, its director in 1981-1983. In 2018, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit in Malacañan Palace. 

We are open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Tuesdays-Sundays. Come and view this painting and more with your lolos and lolas! 


Text and photo by NMP Fine Arts Division.

© 2022 National Museum of the Philippines

144th Birth Anniversary of President Sergio Osmeña

We mark today the 144th birth anniversary of the late President Sergio Osmeña who was born #OnThisDay in 1878.

Hailing from the province of Cebu, Osmeña was a journalist and lawyer before being elected as provincial governor. He then went on to win a seat in the election of the Philippine Assembly in 1907, where he was elected as its first Speaker. During this time, he founded the Nacionalista Party, together with Manuel Quezon, the oldest political party in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

Osmeña was then elected senator, serving for 13 years. He spearheaded a crucial independence mission in 1933, joining fellow Senator Manuel Roxas in Washington, D.C. to lobby for the passage of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act. It aimed to provide a transitional commonwealth government for the Philippines under the United States before the recognition of our independence.

This government was eventually established and in 1935, Osmeña ran for vice-president alongside presidential candidate Manuel L. Quezon. The Commonwealth of the Philippines was inaugurated and they both took their oaths of office at the steps of the Legislative Building, now the National Museum of Fine Arts.

When war broke out and the Japanese forces occupied the country, he joined President Quezon and a few government officials as the Commonwealth went into exile to the United States. He remained as Vice President during these turbulent times until Quezon passed away in 1944 and Osmeña succeeded him as President. He served Quezon’s unfinished term and joined the American forces when they returned to help liberate the Philippines in 1945. 

Osmeña ran for a fresh presidential term in 1946 but lost to Roxas. He passed away on October 19, 1961, in Manila at the age of 83.  

We make a timely remembrance of Osmeña’s accomplishments and contributions as a public servant especially now that we are celebrating Civil Service Month this September.

Pictured below is the monument to the late president Osmeña located at the façade of the National Museum of Fine Arts along Padre Burgos Avenue. National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino created this work of art, which was then cast in bronze by the Fonderia Berdicando Marinelle in Italy. It was unveiled in 1966 and remains a testament to Osmeña’s service to the Filipino people. In 2019, the #NationalMusuemPH declared this sculpture as an Important Cultural Property (ICP). 

The National Fine Arts Collection also holds several works of art featuring Pres. Sergio Osmeña: “Portrait of President Sergio Osmeña” (1951, oil on canvas, Executive Floor) by Martino Abellana, “Caricature of President Osmeña “(undated, watercolor on Strathmore paper) by Liborio Gatbonton, and “President Sergio Osmeña” (1952, wood, Philippine General Hospital Hall, Gallery XVI) by Fidel Araneta. 

See all these and more when you visit the National Museum of Fine Arts! We are open Tuesday-Sunday, from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission is FREE!

Text and photo by NMP Fine Arts Division. With contributions from Museum Volunteer Mikaela Anja Reyes.

The need to protect World War II Shipwrecks in the Philippines

During the Second World War, hundreds of vessels of different types, forms, and functions sank all over the Philippines. The primary combatants were the United States of America and Japan but many other vessels from different countries and crewed by different nationalities were also involved. This wide scale tragic event has led to unimaginable loss of life and property. 

Sunken ships and planes are considered war graves and sacred to many cultures as they serve as memorial for all those who perished in its holds. They are also highly threatened by natural processes and human intervention. Climate change has wreaked havoc on the marine environment, causing destruction to natural and cultural resources. The development of undersea equipment resulting in greater accessibility to deeper wrecks by recreational and technical divers has created an adverse impact on the shipwrecks’ already deteriorating structure. Many WWII shipwrecks have already disappeared after being illegally salvaged for commercial purposes. Others contain ageing, unexploded ordnance as well as fuel oil that, if left unchecked, may create a massive oil spill. Development projects such as the building of bridges also compromise the stability of shipwrecks and its environment.

Despite its fragility and historical significance, these non-renewable, submerged resources have not been subject to proper scientific examination here in the Philippines. M/Y Petrel, in collaboration with the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division of the #NationalMuseumPH has relocated and photodocumented WWII shipwrecks in Surigao Strait and Ormoc Bay, but this only comprise a small percentage of the total number of shipwrecks. These vessels possess intrinsic scientific, educational, monetary, and cultural values, thus should be extensively investigated in preparation for a systematic management and monitoring plan. 

Let us protect our World War II shipwrecks!

#MANAMo #WWII #ShipwreckProtection #MaritimeMonday #MuseumFromHome

Poster and text by the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division

© 2022 National Museum of the Philippines

Poster photo courtesy of Navigea Ltd. R/V Petrel, 2017

Rice and Corn Week: Filipino Corn Snacks

Rice and Corn Week is observed yearly, from August 29 to September 5, by virtue of Proclamation No. 304, series of 1964 signed by former President Diosdado Macapagal. Last year, the #NationalMuseumPH featured the different agricultural implements used in rice and corn cultivation. This year, we are featuring traditional and contemporary Filipino snacks made of corn!

Corn was originally brought by the Spanish colonizers from Mexico through the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. Earliest records of corn cultivation date back to the 1700s, when the Spaniards introduced three crops in Cebu: tobacco, cacao, and corn. Although it is not endemic to the Philippines, did you know that corn is the second most important crop in the country? 

According to the Department of Agriculture, about 14 million Filipinos prefer white corn as their main staple, instead of rice, while yellow corn is used to feed livestock. Corn is also processed into cornstarch, corn syrups, oil, gluten, and used as main ingredients for various delicacies.

In Luzon, binatog, is made by boiling the white kernel until they are tender, about to burst open, and when the water starts to thicken. They are then topped with freshly grated coconut, sugar, and/or salt. In Cebu and northern Mindanao, binaki is made from ground yellow corn combined with butter, sugar, baking powder, milk, and cheese. It is wrapped using the innermost layer of the corn husk and is boiled for less than an hour. Binaki is derived from the word ‘baki’, meaning frog, because the said food is wrapped in a folded husk resembling a frog’s leg. Among the Maranao, biyaki is prepared similar to the binaki despite using different ingredients. Instead of corn, ground cassava and young corn kernels are used. It is wrapped in either banana leaf or corn husk.

From north to south, husked or unhusked corn are boiled or steamed and peddled. Street vendors also sell grilled corn on cobs during harvest season. For younger Filipinos, they are more fond of sweet corn in a cup topped with powdered cheese, margarine, and salt, or mais con yelo made from sweet corn and shaved ice with evaporated milk and sugar. In Ilocos, chichacorn or crunchy corn with garlic, barbecue, sweet and spicy flavors is a popular pasalubong. But nothing beats the all-time favorite popcorn, especially to those who missed the cinema during the pandemic.

Food is essential in sustaining and nourishing our lives. We must always remember to not waste food and to appreciate our farmers by valuing their efforts in bringing food onto our tables.

#RiceAndCornWeek2022 #CornSnacks #MuseumFromHome

Text and poster from the NMP Ethnology Division

Photo courtesy of Allan S. Alvarez, CC0 images from Wikimedia Commons

© 2022 National Museum of the Philippines

The Battleground Manila Bay

Sa pagtatapos ng Buwan ng Kasaysayan ngayong Agosto na may temang: “Kasaysayan, Kamalayan, Kaunlaran”, ating balikan ang dalawang pangunahing labanang naganap sa Look ng Maynila. Una, ay ang panimulang sagupaan sa pagitan ng mga Amerikano at Espanyol noong 1898, at ikalawa ay ang labanan ng mga Hapon at pinagsanib na pwersang Pilipino-Amerikano noong 1944.

Ang Look ng Maynila ay isang semi-enclosed na daluyan ng tubig na umaabot sa 190 kilometro. Ang baybaying ito ay sumasakop sa mga lalawigan ng Bataan, Cavite, at Pampanga. Tanyag ang Maynila bilang isang pook-kalakalan para sa mga lokal at pang-rehiyong ugnayan ng Timog-Silangang Asya, bago pa man ang panahong kolonyal noong ika-16 na siglo Common Era (CE). Nang sinakop ni Miguel Lopez de Legazpi ang Maynila noong 1571, ito ay naging sentro ng kalakalan at palitang kultural sa pagitan ng Asya, mga Amerika, at Europa sa tulong ng kalakalang galyon ng Manila-Acapulco.

Ang digmaan sa pagitan ng armadang Amerikano sa ilalim ni Commodore George Dewey at ng hukbo ng mga Kastila sa ilalim ni Admiral Patricio Montojo ay naganap noong ika-1 ng Mayo 1898. Napataob at winasak ng plotilya ng Estados Unidos ang pwersa ng Espanya. Kabilang sa mga lumubog at nasirang hukbong-dagat ng mga Kastila ay ang Marquis del Deuro, Isla de Luzon, Don Juan de Austria, Isla de Cuba, General Lezo, at Argos. Nagbigay-daan naman ang tagumpay ni Commodore Dewey sa pagsakop ng Estados Unidos sa Maynila noong 1898.

Sa kabilang dako, ang teatro Pasipiko ng ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig ay nagsimula nang salakayin ng mga pilotong Hapon ang mga puwersang Pilipino-Amerikano sa Look ng Maynila, maging ang ibang mga lugar ilang oras lamang pagkatapos ng pag-atake sa Pearl Harbor, Hawaii noong Disyembre 1941. Binomba ng mga Hapon ang mga himpilang isla na nakapalibot sa Look ng Maynila katulad ng Corregidor, Caballo, El Fraile, at Carabao na pumoprotekta sa kabisera ng Pilipinas. Ang umiigting na pagsalakay ng mga Hapon ang nag-udyok sa pagsuko ng sandatahang Pilipino at Amerikano noong 1942. Noong 1944, bumalik ang mga puwersang Amerikano sa ilalim ni Heneral Douglas MacArthur sa Pilipinas at nagpasimula ng walang humpay na pag-atakeng panghimpapawid, pandagat, at pangkatihan mula Enero 1945, at kalaunan ay matagumpay na napalaya ang Corregidor Island, Caballo Island, El Fraile Island, at Carabao Island noong April 1945. Kabilang sa mga lumubog at nasira sa naturang digmaan sa Look ng Maynila ang mga destroyer ng Hapon, IJN Akishimo, IJN Hatsuharu, IJN Satsuki, at ang cruiser IJN Nachi, maging ang USSB-1, USSB-2, USSB-3, at USS Canopus (AS-9) ng Estados Unidos.

#BattleOfManilaBay #Battleground #WWII #MuseumFromHome #NationalMuseumPH

Poster at teksto mula sa Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division

© 2022 Pambansang Museo ng Pilipinas