Tuesday, May 08, 2007


On August 12, 1887, a royal decree established Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas — a museum and library in Manila under the auspices of the Spanish Governor General of the Philippines. It was inaugurated two months later on Cabildo Street in Intramuros, Manila.

There were three sections opened to the public. The Anthropology and Ethnography exhibited weapons, household object, costumes, anitos, and other specimens from the tribes of the northern part of the Philippines. Two galleries were designated for Natural History while a Gallery of Fine Arts and Industries displayed oil paintings by scholars of the Escuela de Dibujo y Pintura, as well as products of Tayabas Province.

In its early years, the museum was headed by notables such as the eminent botanist, Sebastian Vidal y Soler, and in the 1890s, by Filipino lawyer and intellectual, Pedro Paterno.

During the American period, a new and separate museum, The Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce was established in 1901. From thereon during the American colonization, the museum would be constantly re-organized and moved from place to place. Despite this instability, more than 20,000 documentary photographs and 40,000 specimens were collected before the Second World War. Unfortunately, the American bombings during the Battle of Manila, only one-third of the ethnology specimens were saved.

The Finance Building, built in 1940 as the Commerce Building, has been designated as the "Museum of the Filipino People.” It was designed mainly by Filipino architect, Antonio Toledo. This structure was also bombed by the American forces during the height of the war to flush out the remaining Japanese soldiers holed up there. It was later rebuilt by the architect Antolin M. Oreta and was then occupied by the post-war Department of Finance.

Padre Burgos Street
in the former Finance Building on Rizal Park, Manila
Telephone: +63 2 527 0278
Fax: +63 2 527 0306
Monday - Saturday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Admission: P100

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Related link:

Guided Tour of the National Museum

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posted by Señor Enrique at 12:49 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it still free on sundays? it's been a while since i was there. took photos even if they're not allowed, eh? :)

i was hoping to catch a glimpse of the laguna copper plate again

bukas na ba yung national musuem, the old senate building?

May 08, 2007 1:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I don't think it's open on Sundays, but having it open on that day and offering free entrance would be a wonderful idea!

I was given a special permission to photograph the interior, Tito; otherwise I had to check in my camera bag; absolutely no bags are allowed inside.

Besides, even if I had been able to sneak in my point & shooter, with myriad CCTV security cameras which littered that building, they would have caught and stopped me in no time ... hehehe.

The new museum in the old Congress Building is still awaiting for major sponsorship, I was told; otherwise it's ready for opening at any time.

Gaining permission to photograph inside it would be an ultimate "coup de grace."

May 08, 2007 2:12 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Glad to see that I still need to discover a lot in this city! :-)

May 08, 2007 2:13 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's one of the things I realize lately, Sidney -- that is, just when you thought you've exhausted about everything there is in Manila, another new thing crops up! I love it, though!

Bring the family when you visit this museum.

May 08, 2007 2:19 PM  

Blogger INKBLOTS said...

Thanks for your encouragement in my blog!

I am just wondering...how come they allowed you to shoot inside the museum?


May 08, 2007 4:24 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Ding!

I was invited by a sub-com of National Commission on Arts and Culture that is promoting our museums as field trip destinations for our Metro Manila students. And a curator of the National Museum gave approval for me to take photographs inside.

May 08, 2007 4:39 PM  

Blogger wernicke said...

My friends went to the National Museum of the Filipino People a few years back - we enjoyed it a lot though we did have some bloopers. My friend was able to bring inside here Atom XDA which has a camera and she was not able to resist the temptation of taking pictures. Of course, we also weren't able to resist the urge of posing for the camera. After three floors, an intimidating man came up to us an menacingly told us off for taking pictures. We knew we were in the wrong but then he was rude and grabbed the camera phone from my friend! Of course we were alarmed (and we were a bunch of lawyers) considering he didn't have any ID on him. So we argued and said he shouldn't have grabbed the camera cause he could have been just about anyone. Hay! Anyway, we just agreed to delete th pictures after he demanded that we do that, and left the phone inside our bag in the baggage counter.

Anyway, it is also nice to check out the Orchidarium which is right beside the museum. It is one beautiful place and there is a restaurant inside which is operated by Barbara's. It used to be Lush Life.

May 08, 2007 5:37 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! You must have had a wonderful time until accosted by the museum's ecurity guy. One thing I noticed, those security personnel do look like night club bouncers ... hehehe.

Yes, Barbara's is now in Orchidarium, but no jazz performances anymore, though.

May 08, 2007 5:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! i didnt know that it was this beautiful already there... it was very different the last time i went there, well that was ages ago, hehehe. your blessed to be given the opportunity to take pictures inside. nice one eric... love the female touch pic and the last one...

May 08, 2007 8:04 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Lino! That Female Touch sculpture is also a favorite of mine.

I'm glad that I was able to take pictures inside so i could share with others; to convince them that the exhibits are truly worth going to. It does appear that the entire museum is well-maintained.

May 08, 2007 8:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also didn't know how grand it looked inside. I just used to pass by it always when I was there.

May 08, 2007 8:15 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Perhaps, next time you come over to Manila you'd include in your itenerary a visit to this museum, Major Tom. I bet you'll enjoy the exhibits.

May 08, 2007 8:20 PM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

i was able to take my korean friend over to this museum about two years ago. isn't it that they don't allow visitors to take pictures? buti pa kayo nakakuha. =)

May 08, 2007 9:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

very, very nice place! i love the shot with the pots. if i ask permission, will i be allowed to photo shoot? he he

May 08, 2007 10:22 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Thank you for sharing your photos of the National Museum. Hats off to you for encouraging our new generation to frequent our museums and art showcases..."marami pa diyan!". Does Mabini Ave. still showcase the works of our local artists? Aside from the grandeur of the big galleries, there are a lot of local artist that fend their artworks on small hole in the wall type galleries in Mabini. What about the National Library and archives?

May 08, 2007 11:48 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Visited the National Museum twice back in college, both due to required school activities. There's lots of museums in the provinces too.

If I'm not mistaken, Daniel Paloma's works have been featured quite prominently in the daily newspapers a few years back.

May 09, 2007 12:41 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Let me put it this way, Carla, I too, was very much surprised when told I could take pictures inside ... hehehe.

Nonetheless, it is a museum that we can proudly bring our balikbayan and foreign friends to. I just wish they would open the other one (old Congress building) with all the fine arts soon.

May 09, 2007 6:23 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

This is, in fact, a museum for the Filipino people, Bing. I've a feeling that requests to take photographs inside would be accepted and given due courtesy.

It is truly a nice museum. The pots are part of the San Diego exhibition which is a large exhibit.

May 09, 2007 6:25 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I was over at the National Museum, Noypetes, to do a follow up on the movie theaters along Avenida Rizal during the 50s and 60s. But I was so exasperated by their antiquated database, that after less than an hour of literally sweating profusely (it is hot and humid inside) I just had to leave before I suffer from heat stroke or something ... hehehe.

I haven't explored the small art galleries on Mabini Avenue, but I'm sure Carlos Celdran has that beat covered. What I'm more interested in is the respective fine arts program of UP, UST, Ateneo, and other schools. I would love to discover new budding artists while in art school.

Thanks, Noypetes!

May 09, 2007 6:32 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful and valuable art pieces. It's understandable why security is tight.

May 09, 2007 6:34 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Didn't know Daniel has been featured prominently by our broadsheets, Dave. I just love his artworks and writings -- a true artist he is.

Does Ateneo have a museum? Next one I'll feature is the UST Museum.

May 09, 2007 6:38 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

But want to know something, Rhoda? Carlos Celdran once jokingly remarked about the almost lack of security in San Agustin Museum when, in fact, it houses some of the finest and expensive gemstones from ages past.

Yes, no one is allowed to bring in any bag inside the National Museum.

May 09, 2007 6:41 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Your pictures... gradually shifting from Photojournalism to Fine art :P Great shots !

Shifting taste maybe ?

May 09, 2007 7:41 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, S.A. Just taking advantage of photo opps as they present themselves.

BTW, The Nikon D40 has come down in price recently. Getting one soon?

May 09, 2007 7:46 AM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...


Don't miss the PWU Scool of Music and Fine Arts right across the PWU building on Taft Ave.

May 09, 2007 11:02 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks for the head's up, Noypetes. Will surely put PWU on the list.

May 09, 2007 11:05 AM  

Blogger p said...

i've never been there.. those photos are cool. i should visit it i come home.

May 09, 2007 11:40 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Your concise comment, TPB, makes me feel that I had done my job.

You see, the whole purpose of photographing certain places like our local museums is somehow to share with others some attractions contained inside these structures, and hopefully entice them to come and visit in person.

If not the entire place, at least certain areas should allow visitors to take photographs inside; s they'd have something to show with their respective friends and family -- thus, help perpetuate the inflow of visitors to our local museums.

Thank you, The Philosophical Bastard :)

May 09, 2007 11:52 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

There's no museum in Ateneo as far as I know. But the Rizal Library contains rare books, an exhibit on Jose Rizal and an art gallery. Students and employees get in for free, but I think outsiders have to write a formal request for access. Even I would have to present an alumni ID that I still haven't availed of.

May 10, 2007 12:10 AM  

Blogger palma tayona said...

dear dave,

yes, the ateneo has a museum. recently opened a year or so ago. (i have a confused historical timeline) they have a big collection of modern filipino art i.e. sansos, luz, navarro, zobels etc. and they're actively acquiring works done by young artists. i believe they have programs that encourage the development of modern contemporary art and i have heard they're doing a good job at it. i would like to check their collection one of these days and see how current art trends are developing.

senor enrique et al... the U.P. has a museum - the Vargas Museum. if i am not mistaken they have the biggest collection of amorsolos for public viewing. though personally, i prefer fabian de la rosa. many academics and art aficionados believe (though not an aficionado, i hold the same belief) that his works are much more pivotal and has better mastery of the form. (i hear swooshes of arrows flying through the air towards me from amorsolo lovers for making that comment. hehehe)

talk of museums and collections... i passed by the ust a month ago expecting to see a display of their collection of old religious works. i was disappointed to see an exhibit space devoted to petrified animals. i felt i stepped into a chapter of the noli me tangere where the students can only see the microscopes on display behind glass cases and not be able to use them. if not for for the beautiful wall mural of galo ocampo at the lobby of the ust's main building... my visit would have been totally uneventful.

try walking through the lobbies of the PGH and the Manila City Hall and the chapel of the FEU. there you will see murals done by one of our best national artists - carlos botong francisco. or walk into the catholic chapel of the UP and you'll see the stations of the cross by vicente manasala. it's always awe-inspiring how these great talents have been able to visually tell stories of our culture, our country. it's free access and these works are within the milieu of where they're supposed to be for anyone and everyone to see. all you have to do is stop in front of these works and look. :-)

well... i can go on and on about these museums and collections. they're treasures each filipino should take the time to admire and study. it feeds our soul as a country. :-)

p.s. it's daniel palma tayona, and not paloma (she's the daughter of picasso and i don't see myself wearing a skirt even if i am drunk but i like her line of colognes. hehehehe)

p.s. #2 there's a gallery in antipolo called Pinto. they have a wonderful collection of works of contemporary artists. mind-boggling exhibits. try checking out Boston gallery in cubao too.

May 10, 2007 1:32 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Speaking of libraries, Dave, St, Benilde (de la Salle) offers a diploma course on photography. However, one could take just a subject from its course offering during a term without pursuing a diploma. I intend to take one, not only to continue broadening my technical knowledge of photography, but to acquire a student ID which would give me access to de la Salle's library.

I was at the National Library once and it was so unpleasant. I wasn't able to get a single information on something that should have been readily available. Besides, their database system truly needs serious upgrading.

May 10, 2007 5:54 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Daniel!

Firstly, I must have been subconsciously thinking of you as the Philippine Picasso, and that may be why I inadvertently listed your name as Daniel Paloma :) Nonetheless, pardon me.

Ah, so much to learn in this field of local art! But I truly appreciate your taking some time to enlighten me/us on this matter.

As you know, I've been mostly consumed by my interest in photography as of late, but I still try to post/mention something or someone from our art scene every now and then.

BTW, Just the other day, I was thinking of going to Manila City Hall and seek permission to photograph its mural by Carlos Botong Francisco. I should really pursue this intention now.

You have shared with us a list of many things to do in terms of increasing our awareness about our local artists and their works. I shall now add them to my to-do list.

Many thanks, Daniel ... and please continue to keep sharing with us your knowledge in this field. I, for one, certainly can use such knowledge.

May 10, 2007 6:09 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ang ganda na pala ng National Museum. It's great you were able to get a permit to shoot inside kundi di namin makikita ito. The last time I went here was in college pa! I should try to visit again one of these days.

I liket the last shot by the way.

May 10, 2007 12:57 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Ferdz! I think the museum has good funding nowadays, and therefore, able to to maintain it properly.

You might want to check out the vintage photo collection up on the fourth floor :)

May 10, 2007 1:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish i also had a curator friend on that museum. i so wanted to shoot the room where the remains of the san diego were on display.

btw, it is open on sundays but only until 4pm. entrance is free.

May 10, 2007 3:20 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Ymir,

From what the curator told me, all one has to do is submit a request to photograph inside the museum. I will have another chance to meet with them in early June and I will once again bring this issue up, and let you all know.

Many thanks for informing us that the museum is indeed open on Sundays and free. I want to go back to the vintage photo collection up on the fourth floor.

May 10, 2007 5:55 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The National Museum is actually open on Sundays, best of all, its free!

Considering this museum in underfunded and underappreciated,I think thats its a very selfless task that they should do this on weekend, I just hope that people give it more patronage.

May 11, 2007 5:34 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And this is why, Ivan, I am doing my part by promoting these museums.

And thank God they have been permitting me to take pictures because photos are great incentives to make people come and visit our wonderful exhibitions!

May 11, 2007 7:31 PM  

Blogger Unknown said...


This is Edwin Galvez, a friend of Daniel Tayona, and I'm desperately looking for him for a very important request related to graphic design work.

I hope you can send his contact numbers (I"ve lost his in my old phone that was stolen years ago). I can be reached at 0917-8302596 or 844-8334.


June 22, 2007 12:48 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Edwin!

I had forwarded your message to him. Expect a reply from him soon :)


June 22, 2007 8:20 PM  

Blogger As Night Falls said...

Hola Senor Enrique

Great photos - it's nice to know that the Museum is being appreciated by many more people. It is a very photogenic place, and it's amazing how it inspires the photographers in all who see it.

I had the privelege of being part of the huge team that worked on the Museum when it was being re-developed in 1997-1998 (part of the myraid activities of the Philippine Centennial celebration). For me it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I made sure I did not miss it. I also encouraged my Philippine History students at the UP to visit the Museum, as it had many new (at that time) approaches to sharing, teaching and making people appreciate history and Philippine cultural heritage. Those younf people had a blast then - I am greatly pleased that young people many years later would have the same experience.

BTW, the reasons one needs to get permission to shoot pictures inside the musem include restrictions on the use of flash photography (daylight balanced) on artifacts that can get damaged by light; some items may be on loan from third parties (copyright issues); the museum's copyright on the items it actually owns - hence it was proper that you acknowledged that you had permission to shoot and show these photos; as well as a little known clause in the museum's contract with the thrid-party museum developer/s that the methods/means/designs of exhibiting the artifacts (ie, dioramas, audio, visual, etc) are under copyright for a certain number of years (photography can indeed help in reverse-engieering these, sadly).

Glad you enjoyed the museum experience.

Signore Enrico

January 24, 2008 11:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just can't believe it... I have been to a lot of museums in the US and they do allow you to take pictures without using the flash in your camera. Even at the Met in NY you are allowed to take photos. My sister was even able to take photos at the V&A in London. Isn't there a way that the national museum's administration deal with copyright issues? Is it payment of royalties? Is it the negotiation of contract?Is it because of the problem of stealing and cheating in our culture that makes it difficult, making the artist worry about people claiming it is their work? Art is supposed to be appreciated and not allowing museum guests to snap photos I think hinders the promotion of making the common people appreciate art. Just giving my two cents....

April 03, 2008 10:50 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes it is free on sundays. i visited a couple of weeks ago and maganda ang museum. one thing the Museum administrators should try to do is to make it more accessible to visitors who are coming from the Arroceros side, eg city hall, sm manila and LRT. you have to walk down to ayala blvd and cross and then walk up the road again.

April 16, 2008 10:24 AM  

Blogger AK said...

Hi! I just went here last week. It was unplanned actually because I finished filing my school applic at Pamantasan a bit earlier than expected. I noticed the sign leading towards the museum and so I went...hehe

I spent some 4 hours looking through. Since it's my first time to go to the museum alone, I kinda freaked out when I entered the gallery of San Diego wreck site (with all the dim lighted, wooden floored, canon filled room!) but eventually I enjoyed it. I don't have any background about art but the best part for me was the art gallery on the 4th floor (contemporary?).

It was a great experience (going there alone or with a small group perhaps is way better than going there during our educ trips in school) and definitely worth coming back to. =)

May 12, 2008 11:54 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Cathy,

Glad you enjoyed the museum. And many thanks for sharing with us your experience.

By the way, got the following from Carlos Celdran's recent post:

John L. Silva, Senior Consultant of the National Museum, is conducting guided tours at the National Museum.


Proceeds from the fees (700 pesos for adults, and 500 pesos for children up to 18 years) will go to John's I LOVE MUSEUM PROGRAM, which brings public school teachers to the National Museum and to their local museums, taught the importance of arts appreciation and transmit that information to their students.

The tours are three hours in duration, and begins at 10:00 am sharp (ending at 1:00 pm) at the rear entrance of the Museum of the Filipino People, (former Finance Building) Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park.

Attendees are requested to wear walking shoes (please no heels) and reservations are strongly encouraged by texting or calling John Silva at 0926 729 9029. The tours will be May 2, 10, 17, 18, and 24, and June 7, 11, 21 and 25.


Check out Carlos' site for more info:


May 13, 2008 6:47 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i would like to ask how to each the place from TM kalaw.. thank you

June 03, 2008 11:35 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You may call the office directly, Rhayven:

Padre Burgos Street
in the former Finance Building on Rizal Park, Manila
Telephone: +63 2 527 0278
Fax: +63 2 527 0306
Monday - Saturday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Admission: P100

June 04, 2008 6:07 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to visit this museum last Saturday, February 14, 2009. I am glad to see that someone was allowed to take photographs inside since everyone is required to leave all personal belongings at the door. I think that the more people see what is on display within the museum walls, the more they will want to enter the building themselves and experience it on their own. Unfortunately, we went to this musuem a long time after these photos were taken. Not only were the receptionists not very helpful, but they left personal belongings unattended at their desk. As if this was not enough to discourage anyone who wants to visit the place, the condition of the building was not as nice as seen here. Then again, some time has passed, so perhaps it is in need of a few touch-ups. Although I loved seeing all these artifacts, displays, and paintings, there were two things that bothered me as my boyfriend and I walked through the rooms. 1) The supposed 'tour-guide' that was taking a group of high-school students room to room did absolutely nothing to teach these kids about what they were looking at. She did not pause longer than two minutes at a time and merely pointed randomly at glass cases without explaining what they were looking at. She looked uninterested as well. It was disappointing to see that an employee at this place did not care if the Filipino youth learned anything or not about the culture or history of the Philippines. 2) In one room there was a very young couple. Female sitting on her boyfriend's lap. They were already touching each other and he was peeling her down her shoulder and kissing her and all sorts of things that are already considered borderline exhibitionism. I made it known we were in the room and they still carried on. Is THIS what people do in the museums? Is THIS what is considered appropriate behavior in such a place? When I brought it to the attention of a janitor that passed by, he laughed it off and said, 'That's ok. It's Valentine's Day'. The behavior of the employees was very disappointing. Upon leaving, I asked the receptionist if there was a suggestion box so I could leave something there to be read, hopefully, by whoever was in charge. The box was there, but she told me they had no paper. Grrrr! I loved the experience, but I did not appreciate the way others do not respect what is there and do not respect the people who go there to actually learn.

February 18, 2009 4:08 PM  

Anonymous Wency June said...

Hi, Señor Enrique. I would like to ask for your permission to use your photos in this blog because I have this article to pass in my subject as a requirement and I haven't got the time to take photos in the museum. I would be really grateful for your permission. Thank you and God bless.

October 16, 2012 11:43 AM  

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