A few days ago I had the good fortune to be invited by my friend, museum worker Ricky Francisco, to join a group of bloggers on their tour of the Lopez Museum.  For those who have heard of it but have no idea where it is, it’s at the ground floor of Benpres Building in Ortigas Center, opposite BPI.  The Lopez Museum has an excellent research library, as well as a premium collection of Filipino artworks and historical artifacts.  Visitors would be surprised to realize how intimate its exhibit space is, and for exhibits like Deleted Scenes this intimacy works.

Deleted Scenes (which runs from Nov. 12, 2009 to Jan. 9, 2010) is the Lopez Museum’s participation in Zero In, an alliance of Metro Manila museums that share a common exhibit theme running simultaneously.  The current theme, “Periphery”, deals with information on the fringes of one’s consciousness, everything on the edges of what is common knowledge that is often disregarded.  In her notes curator Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez says, “This exhibition quite simply began with a question:  what do I not know?  Or what do I stumble upon just on the perchance that I have the time (and certainly the interest) to spare to look up what has been intentionally left out from what will get to me?…  Deleted Scenes modestly explores such omissions both in pictorial and literary accounts of national history as well as in purported narratives hinged on representation that a museum such as the Lopez hesitatingly but inordinately lays out.”  Co-curator, artist Claro Ramirez, designed the spaces to best reflect this concept.

Featured artists include Lyle Buencamino, Dada Docot, Sari Dalena and Al Manrique.  However, also on display are works currently in the museum collection, such as those by Danilo Dalena and BenCab.  But mostly what were displayed had never before been exhibited, as intellectual significance and logistical concerns usually determine what goes into the final cut.  In our guided tour, Ricky Francisco explained that for years only museum workers had ever viewed the late Social Realist Al Manrique’s sketchbooks which contained his powerfully raw art because exhibiting them would have created political repression, both for the artist and the museum.  They languished in storage until exhibiting them had become relevant and eye-opening.

Charcoal pencil sketch of striking workers. untitled, by Al Manrique.

It was a unique experience to be allowed to handle and photograph the sketchbooks.  This is part of the intimacy that the Lopez Museum allows the visitors to experience, as viewing the work promotes a visceral reaction.  Beside the two sketchbooks (one had editorial cartoons/sketches in pen and ink) was a box of latex medical gloves, so visitors could turn the pages without damaging the artwork.  We were also instructed not to use flash photography for the same reason.

Ricky Francisco explains the book installation, as Digital Filipino’s Janette Toral takes a closer look.  Also with us were bloggers Azrael Coladilla and Arvin Ello.
These books had always been part of the Lopez Museum Library, but because the subject matters were foreign and quite diverse, they had never previously fit into any conceivable theme, until now.  One interesting set contained the documented proceedings of the Nuremberg War Trials!lylebuencaminoThe exhibit not only covers visual art, but leads one from paintings to cinema. This bridging triptych, “No Fighting In The Museum”, “Removing Subject Matter From Painting” and “Scene from Garrison 13” depicting 3 cut scenes from various LVN productions, is by Lyle Buencamino.  One commonly asked question for works of this type is, “If you painted it from a photo, does that count as art?”  If an artist selected the scene that had the impact and portrayed the details in his chosen style, I’d say yes.  If Buencamino hadn’t chosen these scenes to paint, would we have seen them?  I think not.bencabrickyazrael“Soldiers (Heroes of the Past)” by BenCab.  A familiar painting, but the subject matter anchors together some forgotten or little-known details in Philippine history.
alibata-02Ricky points out a very interesting book, a kind of Rosetta Stone translation of various Philippine scripts / syllabaries.  Did you know, for instance, that the alibata or baybayin script as we know it today is only ONE of the many modes of Indo-Sanskrit-derived Philippine handwriting?  As we can see, the Lopez Museum not only has artworks, but valuable research aids available to visitors, whether students or professionals.One last image I’d like you to consider is this piece of imperialistic propaganda, “Uncle Sam:  I Didn’t Know I Liked Melon So Well” (Judge, July 16, 1898).  It depicts the very sort of thing Mark Twain was debating against (yes, Mark Twain was a great friend to the Philippines):propagandaI’m going back – to view Dada Docot’s documentary, and to write about it.  I did say the Lopez Museum is an intimate viewing space, but there is so much in this exhibit that is worth looking at more closely.

I’m also writing another blog entry on Sari Dalena’s film, “Memories of a Forgotten War” next.  (Which war, you ask?  Why, the Philippine-American War.  There was a tragic time at the turn of the old century, when the Filipinos resisted a change in colonial rulers, and suffered greatly.  Given our lifestyles today, this is something that many no longer remember, nor choose to remember.)

The Lopez Museum gives us that rare gift, of opening our eyes not only to what is before us, but also to what is around us that is easily taken for granted.

Deleted Scenes runs at the Lopez Museum from November 12, 2009 to January 9, 2010.  The Lopez Memorial Museum is at G/F Benpres Building, Exchange Road corner Meralco Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City.  For more information, you may call them at (632) 631-2417, or email them at pezseum@skyinet.net.


  1. Pingback: MEMORIES OF A FORGOTTEN WAR | Personal Geographic

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