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Intellectual Tour Through Manila as Visual Research for Pinoy Comics

My good friend Anson Yu was kind enough to take me and Fero on a tour of 4 locations in Manila. The Metropolitan Museum, The National Historical Institute, The Bahay Tsinoy, and Silahis. Roughly a 5 hour trip.

You hear people say that Filipino culture is rich, you can it see for yourself in those places. As part of our research for the comic book we intend to do, I decidedly sketched, photographed, bought, and studied various visual and literary references.

The Metropolitan Museum contained exhibits of pre-colonial gold items. From ornaments, to death masks, to weapon hilts. Right across from this was the pottery exhibit, showing pots made during pre-colonial Philippines. Both exhibits showed me the strong influence of trade in the development of Filipino designs, as many of the designs took motifs from China, Persia, India, and other Malay countries.

The National Historical Institute’s (NHI) first exhibit room featured dioramas and scale models of pre-colonial settlements in the Philippines, as well as actual weapons. The scale models gave me a bird’s eye view of the community’s back then. Very useful and I thought it much more cinematic than my previous conceptions of huts and campfires.

Bahay Tsinoy was the best because we got to go to the library. They had a healthy number of books about pre-colonial Philippines. Books no longer in print, unfortunately, or cost Php6000. Here I was able to take photographs of patterns used in weaving, as well as fashion statements still used today by ethnic Filipinos. Also a lot of text reference on pre-colonial living, beliefs, and culture. A must visit.

Our last stop was the Silahis shop & Tradewinds bookstore. Seeing Pinoy arts & crafts make it to the modern day market place. It was stocked with paintings, prints, ornaments, furniture, and even refrigerator magnets. I bought the “Baranggay” book, which Anson highly recommend for our research.

To you, the artists/writer who wishes to create amazing new Filipino comics based in the pre-colonial —
The Internet does NOT have the kind of wealth you are looking for. So don’t waste to much of your time there. Much of it lies in the libraries of NHI and Bahay Tsinoy, and in the museums – so take yourself on a date and go!

3 comments to Intellectual Tour Through Manila as Visual Research for Pinoy Comics

  • Elbert

    Also recommending Damiana Eugenio’s Myth and Folklore collections, published by UP Press. Rich in material, that one.

  • Anson

    Thanks Joel for the opportunity to show you around. As promise here are the address, phone number and other information regarding the places we visited so that if there are those that are interested to visit the places themselves.

    Metropolitan Museum – Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas complex, Roxas Boulevard, 5211517. Mon-Sat 10am – 6pm – Aside from the pre colonial gold and pottery collection. On permanent exhibits here include the art collection of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

    Museum of Philippine Political History – National Historical Institute, TM Kalaw, 5249952 – Not only does it depict political life in pre colonial Philippines, it goes on to the Spanish colonial era up to EDSA 2. The library upstair has excellent materials on Philippine history, from books to rare photographs.

    Bahay Tsinoy – Angelo King Heritage Center, Anda cor. Cabildo Intramuros, 5276083 – Yes it has a great library that not only features books on pre-colonial Philippines, but various books on culture, art and history of both China and the Philippines. You can also find books on Southeast Asia here as well. If you need to know the difference between a robe from the Tang Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty check out the “5000 years of Chinese costume”. The building also house a museum celebrating Chinese influence in Philippine history and culture.

  • I think we lost a lot of our history not through our inefficiency in handling them rather because of our “non-reading” fellow filipinos.

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