Author: National Museum of the Philippines

Tableware of the Spanish Nobility from San Diego Shipwreck

Tableware of the Spanish Nobility from San Diego Shipwreck

  • Tableware of the Spanish Nobility_Poster

  • The Nobility’s Table

This week on #MaritimeMonday, your #NationalMuseumPH highlights the tableware of Spanish nobility on board the San Diego galleon.

San Diego sank on December 14, 1600 near Fortune Island, Batangas after defeat by the Dutch ship Mauritius. We have featured many of its archaeological objects on previous #MaritimeMonday posts. Read more about the vessel’s story here: 

Vice Governor-General Antonio de Morga, the commander of San Diego, is inexperienced in naval affairs and had planned to use the vessel to further his political ambitions. According to accounts, he wanted to escape Manila and be transferred to a better post in Mexico. He took the naval battle with the Dutch as an opportunity to get his promotion. He invited Manila-based Spanish nobles and officers to bear witness to his success and support his planned transfer. Unfortunately, the galleon sank during the battle but De Morga was one of the survivors who managed to reach Fortune Island.

The presence of the Spanish aristocrats was evidenced by the high quality metal plates, cutlery pieces, and glassware recovered from the wreck. The plates were conserved using electrolysis treatment to remove concretions and remove from stacked pile. They are made of silver with marks and inscriptions. A small depression at the center can be observed, probably caused by polishing. The cutlery pieces comprised bronze spoon and parts of silver forks. They have no marks that may indicate their origin. The spoon has a missing section making it difficult to identify the type of decorative motif.  During this period, forks were just coming into fashion in the upper classes of Spain. They were considered as luxuries and markers of social status and sophistication. The glass goblet is cylindrical with wide horizontal bands. Despite being underwater for almost 400 years, the fragile object is relatively intact showing its crude strength. There are also pieces of footed glasses recovered, which were found to be imitation of ‘Facon de Venise’ style. 

These luxurious objects showed the extravagant lifestyle reserved for the Spanish nobles and officers on board San Diego.

 Your #NationalMuseumPH is now open to the public. While the San Diego gallery undergoes reconstruction, you may see and appreciate other significant shipwreck artifacts in the ‘300 Years of Maritime Trade in the Philippines’ exhibit located at the National Museum of Anthropology by booking a slot through this website. Remember to #KeepSafe by practicing minimum health protocols while viewing our galleries. You may also experience the virtual tour of the exhibit by clicking on this link: 





Text and poster by the NMP Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division.

© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

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17th to early 20th century National Fine Arts Collection (Pasig River)

The #NationalMuseumPH features “Pasig River” (1948) by Miguel Galvez for this week’s #ArtStrollSunday series.

Registered as government property in 1987, this oil painting by Miguel Galvez illustrates the Pasig River painted in the daytime. Completed three years after the Second World War, this painting shows two fishing vessels at rest on the banks of the river, showing the attempt of the Filipinos to get back on their feet and continue with their lives after the war. The Pasig River stretches 27 km long and is the main river that connects Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay. 

Miguel Galvez (1912-1989) was born in Paombong, Bulacan. In 1932, he went to Manila and took free art lessons under his uncle, painter and art teacher Teodoro Buenaventura (1863-1950). Esteemed art historian, scholar, and educator, Dr. Santiago Albano Pilar classified the 1930s to 1948 as Galvez’s first art period – as shown by the several landscape and genre (everyday scenes) paintings he produced. It was also in 1948 when he launched his first one-man show at the showroom of Hans Kansten and Associates. In 1950, San Miguel Corporation awarded Galvez as the country’s Outstanding Landscape Painter. 

The artist has six other works in the NFAC namely: Rural Scene (Pagud Lawin) [1946, oil on panel], Return from the Farm (1949, oil on canvas), Planting Rice (1951, oil on canvas), Furniture Store (1960, oil on canvas), Nude (1989, oil on canvas), and Nipa Hut (Undated, watercolor on paper). Some of these artworks are on the Northwest Wing Hallway Gallery, Second Floor, and the Executive Floor of the National Museum of Fine Arts.

We are now open! To visit the National Museum of Fine Arts (NMFA), you may book a slot on this website. For those who wish to stay at home, you may view the 360 degrees virtual tour of select NMFA galleries on this link: See you at your National Museum!





Text by NMP-FAD

Photo by Bengy Toda

© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

Dignayan Biyernes – Nickel Ore

In today’s #DignayanBiyernes, let us learn about a metallic mineral that plays an important role in the modern world – nickel.

Nickel is the 5th most abundant element on Earth. It is a hard, silvery-white metal that is rust-resistant. It is also malleable and ductile which means that it can be beaten and drawn into thin wires. It is mixed with other metals to create alloys that are stronger and better able to resist corrosion and extreme temperatures. 

It occurs as metals in meteors. Whereas combined with other elements, it can be found in terrestrial minerals such as pentlandite and pyrrhotite, the principal ores of nickel. 

Do you know that in 2020, the Philippines has produced more nickel than any other nation in the world except for Indonesia? 

Our country is also the world’s second-largest producer of nickel ore. Productive nickel deposits occur as sulfides and laterites. Both types occur in our country but nickel laterite deposits have been historically more economic.

Nickel ore deposits have been exploited in Surigao, Palawan, Samar, and also in Zambales. Meanwhile, known nickel ore reserves can be found in Camarines Norte, Quezon Province, Isabela, and Romblon among others. 

Today, aside from mixing it with other metals to create stainless steel and other alloys, nickel is also used in batteries, coins, magnets and many more. 



Text and image by the NMP Geology and Paleontology Division

© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)



  • Boljoon Church Complex

  • Boljoon Convent Roof

  • Boljoon Cemetery Gate

  • Boljoon Blockhouse

  • Boljoon Blockhouse Roof

  • Boljoon Belfry

  • Boljoon Belfry Roof

  • Boljoon Tejas

  • Boljoon Church Complex

In our #MuseumFromHome and #BuiltTraditionThursday series, we are featuring a colonial church architecture introduced by the Augustinians during the Spanish colonial period in the island province of Cebu. The Patrocinio de Maria Church also known as Boljoon Church in Boljoon, Cebu is considered an architectural built heritage, one of the oldest Augustinian churches in Cebu next to the Church of Santo Niño in Cebu City.

Historical accounts by Fr. Manuel Buzeta and Fr. Felipe Bravo (1851) state that the town of Boljoon (formerly called Bolhon) situtated on the southeast coast of the island province of Cebu was founded in 1745. The church of Boljoon, dedicated to Our Lady of Patrocinio, was built in 1783 by Fr. Ambrosio Otero, OSA (NHI, 1999). “The church construction was continued by Fr. Manuel Cordero, OSA in 1794, completed by Fr. Julian Bermejo in the nineteenth century, and restored by the last Augustinian parish priest of the town, Fr.Leandro Moran, OSA, during his term from 1920 to 1948 (NHI, 1999).”

The Patrocinio de Maria Church is a church-convent complex on a parcel of land bounded by A. Sevallo Street on the north, Washington Street on the west, Gomez Street on the south, and Natalio Bacalso Avenue on the east. The church-convent complex is oriented with its nave in east-west axis. The complex includes remains of fortified walls, a cemetery, and a blockhouse. The north churchyard that used to be the cemetery has an arched gate built of cut coral stones capped with finials and carved relief of human skeleton. The 18th century watchtower converted as the church belfry is on the north of the façade or the epistle side of the church. South of the church is the adjoining two-storey convent with a roof that still retains the original tejas or clay tiles.

The architectural exterior of the church features a distinct pedimented east façade divided horizontally by mouldings, and vertically by pilasters into segments with the pediment’s top most triangular section adorned with stone carved Augustinian symbol. The first level has a central bay with an arched door or main portal. The second level features a central bay with a trefoil-arched niche that displays the statue of the Patrocinio de Maria. The stone masonry facework are carved with decorative motifs to articulate the designs on the pilasters and bas relief. Massive buttresses support the church exterior masonry walls.

Boljoon Church with its distinct Filipino Baroque style is “reflective of the 2 aesthetic sense and values of its friar builders and the artistry and ingenuity of Filipinos of yesteryears (NHI,1999).” In 2001, the Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon was one of the 26 Spanish colonial churches declared as National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum of the Philippines for their outstanding historical, cultural and architectural value.

Boljoon Church is in good state of conservation and maintenance. The church complex underwent major site and building interventions, but has retained most of its distinct tejas or clay tile roofing. Steeply sloped roofs characterized the buildings of the church complex. The church’s roof slopes down from 39 to 28 degrees. Steep and sweeping slopes are appropriate for clay tiles as it drain rainwater fast. Repairs introduced through the years have retained much of the buildings’ original clay tile roofing except in the main church structure. The present church structure’s roof was replaced in 2007 with new pre-painted long span galvanized iron sheathings. The clay roof tiles removed from the main roof in 2007 are of two types and sizes. The shape of the typical roof tile is half-cylindrical and tapered, commonly known as the Spanish rounded and tapered-barrel tile. The tiles’ tapered shape aids in the way the tiles interlocked to each other when laid with their overlapping-concave-convex-sides. The tiles’ bonding lime mortar reinforced the manner of keeping the clay roof tile layers wind-and- water-tight. The interlocking clay tiles rest on the framework of hardwood rafters/sleepers, purlins and trusses. The clay tile has a distinct red color (10R 5/6, and 10R 6/8 in the Munsell Soil Color Chart). The color red is visible and dominant in the tiled-roof buildings of the church complex. The traditional way of clay tile roofing has been proven by time to be the most effective and pleasant architectural response introduced by the church builders of yesteryears.

The Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon, one of the few remaining Spanish colonial structures with clay tile roof, exemplifies Philippine built traditions of our National Cultural Treasures that is worthy of emulation in the preservation of our architectural heritage.

Text and photos by Ar. Arnulfo F. Dado of the NMP Architectural Arts And Built Heritage Division

©The National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

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Philippine National Flower- Sampaguita

Did you put a Sampaguita garland in the tombs of your departed loved ones last All Soul’s Day? For today’s #WildlifeWednesday, let’s learn more about Sampaguita, our national flower.

Jasminum sambac commonly known as Sampaguita was declared as the national flower by Governor-General Frank Murphy in 1934. Its white flower is believed to symbolize purity, fidelity, and hope. 

Even though it is considered the national flower of the Philippines, did you know that Sampaguita is not native to the Philippines and is still not considered a naturalized species? It has a pantropical distribution and is commonly cultivated in the country for ornamental purposes. The sweet-smelling flowers are often made into garlands and perfumery. There are more than 10 species of Jasminum in the Philippines and 8 species are considered endemic and are not found elsewhere in the world. 

In the Philippines, it is unusual for someone to give Sampaguita to another person as a gift or as a sign of adoration because it has a lasting impression of being solely offered to saints. It is also seen as a usual ornament in public vehicles but this impression was altered when the Sampaguita flower was made into an astonishing national costume of the recently crowned Miss Globe 2021. This was not the first time for a beauty contest winner to wear a Sampaguita-inspired dress as Ms. Catriona Gray also wore a modern Sampaguita-inspired terno during her homecoming in 2019. 

If you want to learn more about our national symbols, click here 

Text by the NMP Botany and National Herbarium Division

Photo from (D.L. Nickrent)

© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

Mortuary Vessels

In the continuing observance of #Undas2021, today’s #TrowelTuesday features mortuary vessels found in archaeological sites in the Philippines.

Our precolonial ancestors buried the dead in different ways. The tradition of using mortuary vessels or “burial jars” involves a method in secondary burial, wherein the remains of the dead initially buried to decompose will be transferred into the vessel for reburial. Archaeological evidence of mortuary vessels is found across the Philippines and neighboring countries including Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia, central Vietnam, and Malaysia, usually in coastal areas, caves, and in open sites. These vessels vary in size, shape, and artistry, and often made of earthenware.

In the Philippines, various mortuary vessels with exceptional artistry have been discovered since the 1950s. Mortuary vessels found in archaeological context were usually used as a secondary burial. However, there are exceptions such as the Bacong Burial Vessels that served in primary burial where the dead was directly placed inside ( These mortuary vessels often contain grave goods such as earthenware pots, imported ceramics, nephrite (jade), glass beads, and shell jewelry. Grave goods seldom indicate the socio-economic status of the buried individual, although the act of burial within a jar can also signify an elevated status itself.

The Philippines also boasts some unique and intricate designs of mortuary vessels, some with an anthropomorphic element such as the Maitum Jars ( and Manunggul Jar ( Others have zoomorphic designs like the Banton wooden coffins ( Materials used for mortuary vessels can also contribute to their design and artistry. Mortuary vessels found in Kulaman Plateau, Sultan Kudarat ( and the box-like sarcophagi of Mt. Kamhantik Site in Mulanay, Quezon ( were uniquely carved from limestone. Other materials and artifacts were also associated with mortuary vessels, such as the volcanic stone covers in Little Tigkiw Site (

The use of mortuary vessels in an archaeological context indicates the indigenous communities’ complex belief systems, burial practices, and worldview of life and death even before the Spanish colonization.

Mortuary vessels and other associated artifacts are currently displayed at the “Kaban ng Lahi: Archaeological Treasures” and “Palayok: The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines galleries of the National Museum of Anthropology”. Your #NationalMuseumPH re-opened its doors to the public following the IATF guidelines for Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila. Book your slot or explore our collections and exhibitions on this website.





© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

Text by Gerard Palaya, and poster by Timothy James Vitales | NMP Archaeology Division