By Ambeth R. Ocampo
ALL THE positive comments regarding the National Museum lately have proven one noisy critic wrong. Over a year ago, he claimed irreparable damage to Luna’s “Spoliarium” after a decision was made to move it a few meters; and he complained about the renovation of the former Senate Session Hall, which has now been completed and is one of Manila’s truly grand spaces. There was the issue of bringing all the Fernando Amorsolo drawings and Juan Luna paintings from storage and displaying them in once-empty halls. Now people say the museum is worth a visit because there is a lot to see. Visitors can now take photos for personal use as souvenirs. Previously, guards would pounce on students taking pictures even of the outside of the building. I intervened once and asked why a student wasn’t allowed to photograph the lengthy text of the historical marker at the entrance instead of copying it out by hand for her assignment.
By Ramon R. del Rosario Jr.
First, allow me to join the rest of the nation in expressing grief over the passing of a genuine public servant and a truly good man, Jesse Robredo, whose legacy we should seek to preserve by building on his good work. Sec Jesse strongly believed that nation-building requires learning to work together, the private and public sectors contributing efforts toward common goals. Whether for education, health, or good governance, whether for communities, cities like his beloved Naga, or the nation as a whole, his formula for success involved mobilizing partnerships among citizens and government servants to improve Filipino lives.
Can it be? Is a glaring, long-festering historical wrong about to be made right? That thought must have gone through the minds of readers with more than a passing interest in our nation’s history when they read the headline of a brief report in this newspaper last March 10: “2 church bells taken as war booty returned.” Can it be, at last, the famed Balangiga bells, the three church bells carted off by the US Army as war booty after its vengeful campaign of extermination against the population of Balangiga, Samar, in 1901? Two of those bells are being kept in a former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the United States. The third is with the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea. The bells’ repatriation has been the subject of endless—and so far fruitless—negotiations between the Philippines and the United States.
By Ambeth R. Ocampo
Last Monday, the first working day of the year, I visited the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the National Library and the National Museum, and I found out that all these agencies, often neglected when the national budget is being prepared, face a busy and promising 2012. The NHCP had just finished the Rizal Day activities but it was already preparing for the 200th birth anniversary of Tandang Sora this coming Jan. 6. The Library has new rules welcoming the public to use its collection and services, and I checked out the digitization of the Rizal manuscripts. The project makes research easier without the need to handle the fragile originals. At the National Museum, renovation work continues in a hall of what used to be the old Congress.