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A Slice of Negros Life



R and I are proud Negrenses. We were born and raised here, our home away from home has that distinct Negrense flavor, and we continue to talk, think and behave the way we were taught by our Negrense parents.

(A Fil-Am friend who visited us earlier this year expected to learn more Filipino during his two-week stay at our house. He went back to the United States speaking Hiligaynon.)

Despite the time we spend away from Negros, we always make an effort to educate the Babii about her roots. And yesterday, we took her to the Negros Museum.

 Negros Museum facadeFacade of the Negros Museum

The Negros Museum used to be housed at the Provincial Capitol a few blocks away. The Provincial Capitol used to be the seat of the Governor, but over the years, some Governors stopped using the place and it was given over to the Museum. Some years back, however, Governor Joseph Maranon revived the Provincial Capitol as the office of the Governor (rightfully so, I think). The Negros Museum was moved to a smaller building behind the Capitol, formerly occupied by the Provincial Library if memory serves me right.

Negros Museum floor

I have a weakness for old tiled floors, and the Museum’s is no exception. I dream of  my future house having tiled floors like this (I cringe when I see houses and buildings tiled with bathroom-like tiles). The walls in the Museum display a good number of paintings and murals depicting pre-modern and modern life in Negros.

Talibong

At the entrance, one is greeted by a huge talibong. R says the length indicates it was wielded by a tall man.

I was looking forward to showing the Babii the gallery of international toys which made a big impression on me ten years ago, but sadly the gallery was closed. We moved on to the second floor.

Negros Museum stairwayStairway of the Negros Museum

The Museum, fittingly, has a grand stairway. The Babii, however, asked: “What is that thing at the top?” (Uhm, I don’t know, maybe it’s some revolutionary theme?)

At one wing on the second floor is a display depicting life in the sugar industry, the backbone of Negros.

Hacienda House

Above is a typical model of a hacienda house. Note the 360 degree view on the veranda and the little watchtower at the top for, uhm, certain activities.

Hacienda ViewA mural on hacienda life.

Further in, gadgets related to the production of sugar are displayed in various cabinets and tables.

Sugar Gadgets

On the left is a “quedan machine” according to R. Quedans are those little slips of paper confirming how much sugar a haciendero has in a particular sugar mill. This machine is supposed to type out those quedan amounts. On the right are laboratory equipment used for testing the concentration of sugar in the sugarcane brought into the mill.

Negros Museum food vendorA vendor selling local delicacies. But who eats at a food stall wearing a barong (formal wear)? (Ok, maybe the guy just came from High Mass.)

Negros folk songs

Local folk songs printed on canvas hang from the ceilings. A nice touch. I was quite surprised though when R started singing them.

Negrs Museum closed section

There was another display involving a huge boat and religious figurines, but the gallery was also temporarily closed.

On the right end of the second floor is another display on Negros life and the Negros Republic.

Negros Museum Wedding Dress

I took a lot of pictures, but posting them all here would just be picture overload. Above is an old wedding gown, probably donated by some kind soul. I forgot to take a closer picture of the details, but it was clear that each flower was painstakingly sewn and attached with a lot of care. One of my grandmas used to make dresses this way, but they don’t make dresses like this anymore (unless you want to pay an arm, a leg, and your first born child to a designer label, that is).

The Negros RepublicA brief history of the Negros Republic

Very few Filipinos know that when the Tagalogs launched the Revolution in Luzon, Negros launched its own revolution and won against the Spaniards. The Republic, however, was short-lived as the Americans arrived and the rest, as they say, is history.

Some observations and unsolicited advice:

1. The Museum has a lot of potential, but space limitations are very noticeable. The Provincial Capitol was a lot bigger, and displays that are evenly spaced from each other give a significantly different impression compared to ones that are placed right next to each other. Sensory overload, and sadly some stories may fall into the cracks.

2. Aside from the stray foreigner who arrived just as we were leaving, there were no other visitors in the Museum. Unfortunately, this just confirms my observation that not too many Filipinos visit their own museums (aside from the mandatory school trip). If we don’t make an effort to know where we come from, how can we go anywhere?

3. I suppose that funding, as in most historical institutions, is an issue. I am sure that museum officials are exerting their best efforts, but sometimes the best of plans can’t move without funding.

4. I hope that the Museum can soon migrate its website to www.negrosmuseum.com from negrosmuseum.blogspot.com. Having recently migrated our company files, I know that it takes some time and effort, but it can be done for a minimum fee or even free (if you’re a geek).   The hardest part is generating the content, and I would recommend including  a history of Negros, its geography, and short introductions to each gallery/section of the museum. Who knows, it may just garner more attention from potential funders.

5. Christmas season is the time when Negrenses come home for the holidays, often with some non-Negrenses/non-Filipinos in tow. This is the best time to showcase the Museum, but having certain sections closed is disappointing for visitors.

6. There was a scooter parked in the Museum. Right beside the Governors’ Gallery. Paging the parking police….

Scooter in the Negros Museum

The Negros Museum is on Gatuslao St. behind the Provincial Capitol. Entrance fee is P50 (US$1.14) for adults and P20 (US$0.46) for students.



The BEST holidays

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