MANILA, Philippines – The Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF), an attached agency of the Department of Tourism (DOT) partnered with the San Agustin Museum in organizing an exhibit entitled “Culture Contact: Augustinian Missions to La Montanosa” on Thursday, February 23 at the San Agustin Museum in Intramuros, Manila.
The said exhibit that will run until April 23, 2023, offers a story of interactions between the distant and the indigenous societies in the Cordillera, showcasing historical and ecclesiastical objects from the San Agustin Museum as well as Northern Luzon material culture collection from the NPF.
According to the curator, Mr. Victor Estrella, the exhibit aims to revisit the narratives of encounter between Spanish Augustinian religious missionaries and the indigenous cultural communities of the Cordillera from the 16th to the 18th century; to bring our attention to how indigenous cultural communities of the Cordillera maintained their freedom from Spanish colonial rule and Catholic influence; and provide a space for critical dialogue, allowing Filipinos to reflect on culture contact and cultural change.
During her speech, NPF Executive Director Gertie Duran-Batocabe emphasized the agency’s commitment in bringing the agency’s ethnographic collections closer to the general public to engage Filipinos in understanding, appreciating, and committing to the preservation and dissemination of history, culture, and heritage of our forebears.
“Relics of the past like these artifacts remind us how these cultures thrived. Filipinos will be able to reflect on culture contact and cultural exchange through the exhibit, which will provide a space for critical dialogue,” said Duran-Batocabe.
“We strive to keep our cultural heritage alive and vibrant, and we are dedicated to preserving it for generations to come,” she added.
Present during the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Congresswoman Angelica Natasha, DOT Undersecretary Atty. Shereen Gail Pamintuan, DOT-NCR Director Sharlene Batin, San Agustin Museum Director Fr. Ricky Villar, Intramuros Administrator Atty. Joan Padilla, National Museum of the Philippines Deputy Director-General Jorell M. Legaspi, and Most Rev Victor B. Bendico, D.D. from the Diocese of Baguio.
The exhibit is also a celebration of the first Inauguration Anniversary of the Augustian Province of the Most Holy name of Jesus in the Philippines and to commemorate the Anniversary of the liberation of San Agustin Church from the Japanese Forces, during the liberation of Manila.
“One of the many artifacts included in our exhibit is the 18th-century statue of St. Thomas de Villanueva from the diocesan museum of the Diocese of Baguio. This statue is misidentified as St. Thomas of Aquinas. The attributes clearly show that he is St. Tomas of Villanueva, he has miter, he is a bishop, St. Thomas of Aquinas is not a bishop,” said Fr. Ricky Villar.
“Allegedly, the statue was found in one of the chapels in Santo Tomas, Province of Benguet. For unknown reasons he was just identified as St. Thomas of Aquinas. Later you will find this statue and the 1723 map of the Augustinian mission in Cordillera,” she added.
The exhibit is part of the “Traveling Museum” project of the NPF, which aims to bring the agency’s ethnographic artifacts to the general public.
Last month, the agency launched its creative book reading activity “Mga Kwentong May Kwenta sa Bawat Sulok ng Bansa, may Pamana” which aims to teach young children about the Philippine ethnic groups as well as the culture and way of life of the Filipino people. The activity centers on the stories of the Manobos of Mindanao and Hanunuo Mangyan of the Mindoro Islands.