Bahay Tsinoy: Museum of Chinese in Philippine Life (Intramuros, Manila)

Kaisa Angelo King Heritage Center

After attending the opening day exhibit “Kuwentong Kutsero” of my Don Bosco Makati batchmate Gerardo “Ged” Merino at the St. Ignatius Church with in the Walled City of Intramuros, Jandy and I still had some time to kill so we proceeded to the Bahay Tsinoy (literally Chinese-Filipino House), a museum, within the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center, I have been wanting to visit for a very long time.

Check out “Ged Merino: Turning Thread and Fabric into an Art Form

I consider myself as Tsinoy, being a member of the Locsin clan which had its beginnings sometime in the middle part of the 18th century, between the years 1747 and 1750, when an adventurous young man named “Wo Sing Lok” or “Sin Lok” from Amoy (old name for Xiamen), arrived in the Philippines. He permanently settled at “Parian,” now Molo in Iloilo City. In 1780, Sing Lok was christened as Agustin Locsin when he married Cecilia Sayson, a mestiza daughter of an Ilongga and a sangley (local Chinaman) who were both devout Catholics.

Check out “9th Locsin Reunion”

Replica of Terra Cotta Warrior

Jose Rizal

Designed in the American Colonial style by Eva Penamora in collaboration with my late U.P. College of Architecture professor Arch. Honrado Fernandez, the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center was started in 1996 and completed and inaugurated in 1999.

Shoreline Tableau

After the acclaimed bi-lingual children’s educational television program Pinpin in the early 1990s, this museum project was envisioned by  the Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, Inc., a non-profit organization co-founded by Teresita Ang-See, to provide another venue for advocating patriotism to the Philippines and promoting cultural identity and understanding between the local Chinese and Filipino communities.

A Chinese goldsmith at work

A Chinese Cobbler and a Public Reader

Funding for the land and building structure, initially advanced by Angelo King Foundation, was eventually raised through generous contributions from different levels of Filipino-Chinese community, from tai-pans to average wage-earners.

Carpenters

The Galleon Trade

As we entered the center, we were welcomed by a replica of a terracotta warrior. Upon payment of admission fee, we entered the museum and first encountered a large ship introducing a brief history of the early contacts between the Chinese and the Filipinos prior to the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan.

Barber

Food Peddler

As we made our way further into the hall, we were greeted by an impressive and permanent heritage exhibit of a presentation of dioramas of almost life-size wax figurines tracing the history of the Philippine Chinese or sangley (meaning “itinerant merchant” in the Hokkien dialect), from Pre-Hispanic times to the Colonial Period.

Embroidery at  the Replica of a Whole Household

The Illustrado

A detailed impression of Chinese and mestizo (mixed Spanish Filipino) life in the parian (Chinese ghetto) in the 1800s is depicted via a replica of a whole household complete with Chinese-influenced furniture such as chairs and beds.

The Ah Tay Bed

There are also copies of marriage certificates contracted between Chinese husbands and Filipina or Chinese mestiza wives during the 18th and 19th century as well as their children’s baptismal records.

Colonial Culture – Shared Hands – Painting of Nuestra Senora de Pronto Socorro and Tombstones

Gallery of Rare Prints and Photographs

We also examined rare prints; a collection of excellent photographs; an interesting collection of rare porcelain unearthed in the country; old coins; religious artifacts reflecting Chinese influence; an exhibit of magazines, books, and even TV shows which promote the Chinese culture; and an exhibit of lives and contributions of famous Filipino-Chinese in the Philippine life and history.

Rare Philippine Shell Collection

In Defense of Freedom – Shared Cause

Ching Ban Lee Ceramics Gallery

At the third floor, we capped our tour at a dark section of the hall where we sat down and watched a hologram of a Tsinoy talking about how the early Chinese integrated themselves to the Philippine society.

Betty Go-Belmonte

Washington SyCip

The fully air-conditioned museum is divided into the following sections:

  • Early Contacts
  • The Parian
  • Colonial Culture
  • Emergence of the Chinese Community
  • In Defense of Freedom
  • Life in the 1800s
  • National Leaders of Chinese Descent
  • Gallery of Rare Prints and Photographs – scenes depicting old Chinese occupations, streets of Binondo, prints on turn of the century Chinese life.
  • Martyr’s Hall – dedicated for Filipino heroes who have Chinese ancestry and have made a significant impact in Philippine history.
  • Ching Ban Lee Ceramics Gallery – displays Chinese ceramics dating from 10th to 17th century that were unearthed in the Philippine,s tangible artifacts testament to centuries of trade between our two countries
  • Rare Philippine Shell Collection
  • Tsinoys in Nation-Building (Jimmy Ongking Hall) – inaugurated in 2004, it points out the influence of modern-day Tsinoys in business, politics, art, science, religious and social life. Some of the most important personalities, of (partly) Chinese origin, in Philippine history include national hero Jose Rizal, Pres. Corazon Aquino and Cardinal Jaime Sin.

Jaime Cardinal Sin

Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee and Pres. Corazon Aquino

The center is also home to the following:

  • Chinben See Memorial Library – named in honor of Prof. Chinben See, the late anthropologist and renowned scholar on overseas Chinese, this library holds 8,000 books, documents, magazines, dissertations, and other articles particularly on the Chinese in the Philippines and other parts of the world; an extensive Filipiniana collection of books on Philippine society, economy, culture and politics; rare books (some almost 200 years old) that have mention and photographs of the Chinese in the Philippines. Open Mondays to Saturdays, 9 AM to 5 PM.
  • Office of Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran
  • Benito Cu Uy Gam Hallavailable for parties & other events
  • Pao Shi Tian Seminar Room
  • Madame Teh Siu Yong Limpe Seminar Room
  • Research and Data Bank Center – contains a collection of current research materials, clippings, microfilmed archival materials, old Chinese newspapers, data base from Chinese tombstones all over the country, etc. The center plans to output policy papers that will help government. Open Mondays to Saturdays, 8 AM to 5 PM.
  • Awat Keng Auditorium – named in honor of Dr. Angelo King’s late younger brother, the auditorium seats 380 people and is used for seminars, conferences, theater productions.

Office of Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran

Chinben See Memorial Library

Bahay Tsinoy: 2/F Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center, 32 Anda cor. Cabildo St., Intramuros 1002, Manila. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 1 to 5 PM.  Tel: (632) 527-6083 and 526-6796 and 98.  Fax: (632) 527-6085. Mobile number: (0922) 890-1357. E-mail: info@bahaytsinoy.org. Website: www.bahaytsinoy.org. Admission: PhP100 for adults and PhP60 for children and students.

How to Get There: Take the LRT-1 (yellow line) and get off at Carriedo Station.  In front of Santa Cruz Church, ride a Pier-bound jeepney and get off at BahayTsinoy.

Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden (Manila)

Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden

The 5.5-hectare (14-acre) Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, fondly called as the Manila Zoo, was opened on July 25, 1959 (the oldest zoo in the Philippines and in Asia). It was the brainchild of the late Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson.

One of the educational centers in the country, here the viewing public can observe, discover and learn interesting facts about the beauty of Philippine fauna and flora.

The now 60 year old zoo, maintained by Public Recreation Bureau, is home to 832 animals (as of 2007) and many plant collections from the botanically rich and diverse Philippine Islands and South Pacific region.

There are 106 species (up from 90 species in April 2015), among which are 30 different kinds of mammals, 63 reptile species and 13 types of birds. It also houses 600 plant species.

Ostrich

In addition to popular zoo occupants such as an elephant, Bengal tigers, ostriches and lions, Manila Zoo also houses Malayan civetmonitor lizard and several endemic and indigenous species of animals like the Palawan bearcat (binturong), Philippine long-tailed macaques, Philippine deer and Philippine crocodiles. Many of the zoo’s animals were born in captivity with three month-old juveniles recently born in April 2015. 

Philippine Deer

Worth checking out is a “hebra,” half-zebra and half-horse, the only one in the country, born on August 11, 2010 to  a female zebra and a male horse. Though shaped more like a horse than a zebra, it has boldly striped body, legs and neck.

Hebra

The Bengal tigers and lions, being great jumpers, can only be viewed from an elevated vantage point.

A pair of Belgian tigers

Lion

The reptile house, inside a stone structure, was inaugurated on July 25, 2009 during the term of Mayor Alfredo Lim.  A favorite of kids, it houses pythons, grass snakes, Philippine common cobra (Naja naja philippinensis), Saifin Water Lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus), turtles and large Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).

Philippine Crocodile

Malaysian box turtles

The fish pond houses arapaimas, red belly pacu, red tail catfish, alligator gar, Pangasius catfish, etc.

Fish Pond

The zoo also houses domesticated animals (goats, pigs, Guinea pig, hamsters, sheep, rabbits, etc.), a goose cage and a lagoon.

Lagoon

There are also two aviaries housing exotic birds (Philippine hawk eagle, White-bellied sea eagle, Black-crowned night herons, Purple herons, Rufous night herons, Indian blue peafowls, Banded rail, Leucistic Indian peafowls, Blue-naped parrot, egrets, Turtle dove, Spotted dove, Purple swamphen, Double wattled cassowary, etc.).

Interior of aviary

The zoo has already lost many of its original inhabitants.  It was once home to the 2.5-ton Bertha – believed to be the world’s oldest hippopotamus – until her death at age 65 in July 2017 from multiple organ failure. She arrived at the zoo, as a 7 year old, the year the zoo opened in 1959.  Her mate, who died sometime in the 1980s, failed to produce any offspring.

There used to be 3  giraffes in the zoo but all have died due to natural causes.  They are now all part of Manila Zoo’s history.  Today, we can only see a replica or effigy of a giraffe which hardly satisfied our curiosity. 

My son Jandy admiring a giraffe during a school field trip to Manila Zoo in the 1990s

If you want to see giraffes (albeit short neck ones), go to Calauit Safari Park in Palawan. Kangaroos can be found in Baluarte Zoo in Vigan (Ilocos Sur).  

Check out “Calauit Safari Park” and “Baluarte Zoo

The tree-dwelling 38 year old Sisi, the lone female orangutan housed in the zoo since 1981, died on June 21, 2009 of multiple organ failure due to metastasized tumors.

Domestic goats

By law, the Manila Zoo must operate in accordance to Republic Act 8485 (also known as the Animal Welfare Act of 1998) whose purpose is to ensure that all terrestrial, aquatic and marine animals in the Philippines have their physical and psychological needs met in ways that promote well-being.

Its Wildlife Rescue Center, subject of public scrutiny in regard to their animal welfare standards, serves as temporary shelter and repository for confiscated, donated, retrieved, sick, injured and abandoned wildlife species.

Its most popular resident is the 43 year old Asian elephant Maali (short for Vishwamaali), the only elephant in the zoo and the only captive elephant in the Philippines.   He arrived at the zoo in 1977 as 3 year old orphaned calf transported from Sri Lanka, after being poached from the wild. She was just walking around in circles.

Maali the African elephant

Sadly, he is known as the world’s loneliest elephant and she is the subject of a campaign from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), an animal rights organization which issued a report pointing out the numerous issues regarding Mali being kept in captivity.

Rooster

Seemingly stressed and miserable, she was subject of a campaign to free her, alleging animal cruelty, and has drawn support from Philippine bishops, global pop stars, and Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee.

Domestic sheep

The zoo has been criticized due to its inadequate animal care and dirty surroundings but efforts have been made to make the animal habitats as comfortable and natural as possible, such as by adding trees and vegetation, and expanding the enclosures.

Hamster

Due to over congestion in the zoo, management plans to transfer many of its animals to a separate breeding area or sanctuary outside Metro Manila. The current zoo will just be an exhibit area.

NOTE:

On January 23, 2019, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has ordered the indefinite closure of Manila Zoo after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) identified it as a major pollutant of Manila Bay as it had been draining untreated sewage into Estero de San Antonio Abad leading to Manila Bay.  During its closure, the city government will work on the installation of water treatment facilities or sewerage treatment plants for Manila Zoo.

Manila Zoo also has canteens, souvenir shops, boating rentals at the lagoon and several playgrounds that cater to children and tourists.

Administration Office

Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden: M. Adriatico St. cor. Quirino Ave., MalateManila 1004Philippines. Tel: (632) 525-8157 and 400-1884. Open daily (including holidays), 8AM to 6PM. Entrance Fee: non-resident adult (Php100), non-resident child;  above 4 ft. (Php100); non-resident child, below 4ft. (Php60); Manila resident, adult (Php50); Manila resident, child, above 4ft. (Php50); Manila resident, child, below 4ft. (Php30). Manila residents need to present ID with picture (TIN ID, Voter’s ID, Driver’s license, Barangay ID, UM ID).  For Manila students only, present School ID.

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. The wax figure of the founder is at left

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong is part of the renowned chain of wax museums founded by outstanding French artist Marie Tussaud (1761-1850), well known all over the world for her wax products).  It was opened in 2000 at the second floor of the Peak Tower (on Victoria Peak) on Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. Since its opening, it has drawn the attention of numerous visitors.

Bryan, Kyle and Cheska mixing it up with Bruce Lee

In September 2005, in an effort to bring an interactive and immersive entertainment experience to visitors, it began its renovation, at a cost of HK$20 million (US$2.6 million) and, on May 18, 2006, reopened, adding a further 700 sq. m. (7,500 sq. ft.) of exhibition space on three floors and five themed areas.

The late King of Pop Michael Jackson

Though this was my second visit to The Peak, it was only my first visit to this museum. Upon entry, we journeyed through each incredibly lifelike wax figure of “stars,” stopping to immerse ourselves with K-pop culture at K-wave Zone, practiced our kung fu moves with Bruce Lee at Kung Fu Zone, glammed it up with Taylor Swift and Madonna on stage, enjoy the patterned world of Yayoi Kusama, and took selfies with some of the world’s most respected historical and political leaders.

Yayoi Kusama

Here are some interesting trivia regarding this museum:

  • It is the first Madame Tussauds museum in Asia (the others are in Shanghai branch, which opened in 2006, and the third in Bangkok, which opened in 2010).
  • The museum houses over 100 wax likenesses of internationally known personalities and local celebrities to date, and 11 interactive zones.
  • Asian figures take up more than a third of the total (16 are Hong Kongers) and Asian celebrities and superstars have often graced the unveiling of their wax likenesses, with sizable groups of their fans tagging along.
  • The wax figures are featured in a range of themed settings such as Hong Kong Glamour, Music Icons, Historical and National Heroes, The Champions and World Premiere.
  • The figure of Miriam Yeung (well known for her fun-loving and bubbly personality), unveiled on November 2006, is the first in the world designed to giggle via in-built sensors.
  • The figure of Connie Chan Po-chu, unveiled on August 2006, was the first figure to appear in full Chinese regalia. The model’s costume was inspired by the musical Only You, set in the Yuan Dynasty, in which Chan formerly starred.
  • The figure of Bae Yong-joon, unveiled on May 2006, is the first Korean star to be included in a Madame Tussauds exhibition.
  • The figure of Andy Lau, unveiled on April 2005, was the first animatronic model that was crafted out of silicone rather than wax. Lau’s animatronic heartbeat was modeled on a similar system installed in a replica of Brad Pitt at Madame Tussauds Amsterdam.
  • In 2019, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach will be the first Filipino to have her wax figure in Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.

Hong Kong celebrity Lee Lai Shan

Celebrities and historical figures from Hong Kong include Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Kelly Chen, Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi, Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, Donnie Yen Ji-dan (added on April 30, 2010), Janice M. Vidal (added on July 18, 2007), Sandra NgLee Lai Shan, Andy Lau Te-wah, Leo Ku (added on April 4, 2007), Miriam Yeung, Sir Ka-shing Li, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen (added on April 7, 2008), Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, Joey Yung, Anita Mui Yim-fong and Leon Lai-ming.

Japanese sumo wrestler Chiyonofuji Mitsugu

Other Asian celebrities and historical figures include Lin Chi-ling, Jay Chou and Teresa Teng from Taiwan; Michelle Yeoh from Malaysia; Ayumi Hamasaki, Shigeru Yoshida and Chiyonofuji Mitsugu from Japan; Jet Li (added on September 28, 2010), Yao Ming, Liu Xiang, Connie Chan Po-chu, Sun Yat-sen (added on July 2007), Yang Liwei (added on July 2007), Li BingbingDeng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Mao Zedong (added on July 2007) and Hu Jintao from China; Lee Kuan Yew from Singapore; Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Sukarno (added on June 5, 2014) and Joko Widodo (added in 2017) from Indonesia; Amitabh Bachchan, Varun DhawanShah Rukh KhanMahatma Gandhi and Narendra Modi from India; and Bae Yong-joon, Suzy and Lee Jong-suk from South Korea.

India’s hero of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi

Chinese President Li Jin Ping and First Lady Peng Liyuan

Actors, actresses and directors on display include Angelina Jolie (added on September 27, 2007), Brad Pitt, Cher, Eddie Murphy, Audrey HepburnElizabeth Taylor, Mel Gibson, Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Harrison Ford, Johnny DeppMacaulay Culkin, Marilyn Monroe, Vin Diesel, Benny Hill, Robert PattinsonPierce Brosnan, Anthony Hopkins, Humphrey Bogart, Gérard Depardieu, Hugh Grant, Joanna Lumley, Alfred Hitchcock, Bruce Lee and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Cheska with Angelina Jolie

David Beckham, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, Stephen Curry,  and Ronaldinho (added on December 2007) represent the world of sports.

Tramcar at the Fashion Zone

The brand-new Fashion Zone, opened last July 10, 2017, consists of three themed areas (Backstage Studio, Billboard Superstar and Runway) and features features AR (Augmented Reality) technology.  On hand are the stars of the  catwalk Elle Macpherson, Kendall Jenner and Naomi Campbell as well as fashion designer Victoria Beckham.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova

David Beckham, Ronaldinho and Yao Ming

Animated World, officially launched in April 2017, brings together famous animated characters such as Yo-kai Watch, McDull and Madame Mak, Marvel Avenger superheroes (Hulk, Ironman and Spiderman), Hello Kitty and Balala the Fairies. 

Animated World: Jandy in the clutches of The Hulk

Iron Man with fan Jandy

Historical and national heroes from the Europe, U.S.A. and Africa  include Sir Winston Churchill, John Howard, Diana, Princess of Wales, The Duke of Edinburgh; Elizabeth II; The Prince of Wales; The Princess Royal; The Duke of Cambridge (added on August 7, 2007) and William Shakespeare of the United Kingdom; Luciano Pavarotti of Italy; Nelson Mandela of South Africa; Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton; George W. Bush; Barack Obama (added on January 20, 2009) of the USA; Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia; Adolf Hitler of Germany; Pablo Picasso of Spain; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of Austria; Rembrandt van Rijn from The Netherlands; and Marie Tussaud herself.

The author seated between the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth

Music icons include Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, The Beatles, Tina Turner, Twins, Westlife, G.E.M. and TVXQ. 

Grace as the fifth Beatle

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong:  Shop P101, Peak Tower, 128 Peak Rd., The Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong.  Tel: +852 2849 6966. Website: www.madametussauds.com/hong-kong. Open daily, 10 AM to 10 PM. Admission:s HK$140 (adults) and HK$70 (children aged between 3 and 11 years old).

How to Get There: Take bus 15C from Central Pier 8 or walk from MTR Central Station Exit J2 to take the Peak Tram from the Peak Tram Lower Terminus on Garden Road; or bus 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D); or minibus 1 from the public transport interchange at MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit E.

Hong Kong Space Museum (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong Space Museum

The Hong Kong Space Museum (Chinese: 香港太空館), a museum of astronomy and space science managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of the Hong Kong Government, is one of the most famous and outstanding landmarks in Hong Kong. Conveniently located on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront (next to Hong Kong Museum of Arts and HK Cultural Centre), Mr. Joseph Ming Gun Lee of the Public Works Department was the chief architect of the project.  Construction started in 1977 and the museum opened on October 8, 1980.

The planetarium and other equipment, worth HK$3,050,000, were purchased from the Carl Zeiss Company. With the aid of interesting hands-on exhibits and advanced equipment such as seats installed with multi-language and interactive systems, coupled with lighting effects and environmental decorations, the exhibition introduces astronomy and space science in a vivid approach.

The planetarium’s dome

The museum, occupying an area of 8,000 sq. m., has two wings.  The East Wing consists of the core of the museum’s popular planetarium, the first local planetarium for the popularization of astronomy and space science education and the first planetarium in the world to possess a fully automatic control system at its Stanley Ho Space Theatre (boasts the first OMNIMAX film projector in the eastern hemisphere) beneath it.

The planetarium’s rather unusual, easily recognizable and striking egg-shaped hemispherical projection dome, a famous landmark on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, has a diameter of 23 m.. Also beneath the planetarium is the Hall of the Cosmos, the Hall of Space Exploration, workshops and offices.

Hall of the Cosmos

There is also a mockup of the nose and cockpit section of the Space Shuttle orbiter.  The West Wing houses the Hall of Astronomy, a thematic exhibition hall on the first floor; the Lecture Hall; a gift shop and offices.

Hall of Space Exploration

The “Hall of the Cosmos” (showcases the Universe from near to far, travelling from the solar system that we are living in, to the stars, Milky Way and galaxies further away and exploring the science and evolution of the universe all along the way), on the ground floor, and “Hall of Space Exploration” (depicts the development of space exploration and space technology), on the first floor, covering a total area of 1,600 sq. m. (17,200 sq. ft.), houses a hundred exhibits, about 70% of which are interactive, enabling visitors to learn through a series of entertaining and educational experiences.

Stanley Ho Space Theatre

The museum houses a large collection of meteorites and offers an extensive range of activities for both adults and children, producing 2 planetarium shows as well as introducing some of the best foreign OMNIMAX and 3D Dome Shows productions, using the digital planetarium projection system, in Hong Kong.

The museum also organizes plenty of extension activities each year including Astronomy Carnival, Astronomy Happy Hours, fun science lab sessions, astronomy competitions, lectures and astronomy film shows, etc.

Hong Kong Space Museum: 10 Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha TsuiHong Kong.  Tel:+852 2721 0226. Website: hk.space.museum. Open Mondays –Fridays, 1 – 9 PM; Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays, 10 AM – 9 PM; closed on Tuesdays, the first two days of the Chinese New Year and at 5 PM on Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve.
Admission: HK$10 (standard). Concession (HK$5) is applicable to full-time students, people with disability (and one accompanying minder) and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Children under 3 years old will not be admitted. Free admission on Wednesdays (visitors are required to queue on site for admission by session). Full-time students and museum pass holders are eligible for free admission to the exhibition halls and need not purchase tickets, but are required to book the admission session online before the visit (except Wednesdays). Booking will be available within one week of the visit.

How to Get There: Take the MTR to get to Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Get out of the station through Exit E and cross the road. Walk 150 m. to Salisbury Road. You’ll see the museum across the road. Then use subway to cross Salisbury Road. When you exit the subway, walk a little along Salisbury Garden. You can also take MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui Station.  Get out through Exit J, then walk about 10 mins. to the museum. Via Star Ferry Pier, from Central or Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui, walk for approximately 10 mins. to the museum.

The Jesuit House (Cebu City, Cebu)

The author at The Jesuit House

The grand opening of One Central Hotel & Suites had just ended and, as we still had a little over an hour to make it to the Jesuit House (claimed to be the oldest dated house in the Philippines), Rona, Rhea and I took a taxi to quickly get there. However, the driver only spoke Cebuano, which none of us spoke, and, coupled with that, didn’t know the destination.  But, thanks to Waze, we were able to make our way there.

Check out “Hotel and Inn Review: One Central Hotel & Suites

The entrance to the Jesuit House (also called Museo de Parian sa Sugbo) was through the main gate of Ho Tong Hardware along Zulueta Street. A streamer, with the words “Welcome To The Jesuit House of 1730,” hangs on the hardware gate. Most people, including us, would probably  have just passed by the area, ignorant of the historical treasure inside as a towering fence, built to protect it from theft (it still is a warehouse for the present owner’s business),  hides the house from street view.

At the office, we paid the admission fee and waited, at the adjoining coffee shop, for museum curator Christian Joseph Bonpua who was to guide us through the museum. The knowledgeable and versatile Christian was well versed in the history of the Jesuits in relation to the Philippines (considering he was a graduate of the Dominican-run University of Sto. Tomas), sharing a lot of historical and current facts. 

Museum curator Christian Joseph Bonpua

He  presented a birds eye view of the history of the Jesuit house during the Spanish and American periods of history via a video presentation.  The Jesuit House is actually two houses connected by a bridge.

“Ano de 1730” plaque atop the entrance (photo: Ms. Rhea Vitto-Tabora)

During our guided tour, Christian pointed to a low relief plaque, bearing the date “Año 1730,” on the inside wall above the main house’s entrance door, an artifact in itself. However, the house’s history remains murky, even contentious.  Some historians argue over the exact year of the house’s construction, some saying that the date on the relief plaque was not 1730 but 1750, pointing out that the third number from the left resembled “5” more than “3.” One piece of evidence hints that the house was built even earlier.

Airconditioned ground floor gallery

In his book Pictorial Records and Traces of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines and Guam prior to 1768, published in 1936, Fr. William Repetti, S.J. (1884-1966), a seismologist (he was Chief of the Section of Seismology and Terrestrial Magnetism of the Manila Observatory, 1920 to 1936) and archivist of the Jesuits, noted the existence of this house, identifying this old structure as the “Jesuit House of 1730.”

It is also widely believed that a tower once stood beside the house. An old, badly damaged painting of the house showed that it was attached to what is believed to be a watchtower for spotting seafaring raiders. In his book, Fr. Repetti also included a reproduction of this old painting of the house. Today, pictures of Fr. Repetti’s visit as well as a framed drawing of that painting hangs on the Jesuit house wall.

However, recent restoration works proved that the house could even be older than 1730. A coin, found buried in one post of the original house, was dated to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).  Broken ceramics, also pointing to the Ming Dynasty, were also dug out.

Display of pottery shards

It gives the idea that the house may have gone through a number of transformations and that its first owner may  have been Chinese (the Chinese were among the early settlers in the area). In her book Life in Old Parian, memoirist Concepcion G. Briones happily noted that the house has now come full circle – somehow it is back to Old Parian hands (as the current owner is Filipino-Chinese).

Japanese porcelain shards

Chinese influence in the house construction can be seen in rafters that feature a design resembling a pagoda plus the intricate carvings on the trusses also show that Chinese artisans may have worked on it.  Sy believes the Jesuit house is even older than the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House because its second level, like the ground floor, is still made of cut coral stones, indicating it was built before a Spanish decree disallowed this practice.

Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola

The decree, indicating that the second level of all houses should be made of wood, was made to prevent the loss of life after a number of houses using coral stone on both floors were destroyed and many lives were lost during a strong earthquake.

Check out “Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

The remarkably preserved house, sitting on around 2,000 sq. m. of land, served as the residence of the second highest official of the Jesuit society in the Philippines.  Other priests of the order or deacons going to or coming from other provinces for missions were also received here. Historians say that the Jesuits were indeed in possession of the house until 1768 when, following their suppression in Europe, they were expelled from the Philippines. The Jesuits are credited to have introduced masonry construction to the Philippines.

Old movie projector

In 1910, after having been built and occupied by the Jesuits, this huge stone-and-tile mansion bordered by two streets on a lot in old Panting, adjacent to Parian, was bought by Don Luis Alvarez y Diaz, the Alvarez family patriarch.  The Alvarez family, originally from Asturias (Spain), settled in Cebu via Lawis, Leyte.

Scaled model of a Chinese junk

Who Don Luis brought it from is still mystery but, based on a lead provided by Edwina Link-Harris (Don Luis’ granddaughter), it is surmised that it may have been from Don Cristobal Garcia, a Spaniard and a Tabacalera agent of the then municipality of Cebu who returned to Spain. At one point in time, Don Jose Alvarez leased the house to Gov. Sergio Osmeña who used it as a meeting place for Cebu’s elite. The Alvarez family are the current owners of Montebello Villa Hotel.

Diorama of the the old Parian area, showing the now non-existent Church of St. John the Baptist, the Jesuit House and other landmarks.

During World War II, the house was also used by the American forces.  In the 1960s, the house was leased to Peping “Jap” Rodriguez, an Alvarez kinsman, for use as a club. Within the decade it again changed hands, this time going to the Sy family. Jaime “Jimmy” Sy, the current owner, inherited the property from his father.  Jimmy, who operates Ho Tong Hardware, is married to the former Margie Vaño of the Old Guard, related to the Sanson-Velosos, the Coromina-Fortiches, and the Escaños.

Stairs to second floor

Dr. Michael Cullinane (associate director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies), an American historian on the Philippines, has a different version of the house’s history. Unearthing the earliest record on the house, he revealed that it once belonged to the pious Villa family of the Chinese mestizo principalia (local aristocracy). Around 1880, the Villas gave the house to the Jesuits on certain conditions, including one on the dedication of specific prayers for living and dead members of the family.

Azotea

Jimmy questioned this claim, saying that, even before 1880, the house was already in the possession of the Jesuits as indicated on the Jesuit seals, carved in two separate places in the house, which are definitely in the 18th-century style, as well as the legend “1730,” which is definitely in 18th-century calligraphy. Fr. Rene Javellana, SJ, a Jesuit art historian and professor based at the Ateneo de Manila, supports Jimmy on his contention as the Jesuit presence in Cebu was not reestablished until the erection of Our Lady Queen of China, Sacred Heart Parish in 1952, debunking the 1880 deed.

The two-storey house, along the defunct main entrance on narrow Binakayan Street, has cut coral stone walls with original molave (tugas) hardwood floors of alternating planks of dark and light shades, carved decorative corbels that support the ceiling, stout posts made from the trunks of trees, and a terracotta clay tile roof (a double row of tiles, with each row with a tile atop the other, facing down and cupped by a single tile facing up in the kulob-hayang pattern).

Antique sala set and television

The ground-level interior space (zaguan) has terracotta flooring.  It has 3 m. high ceilings and big door and window openings. Its second floor is connected, by a covered wooden walkway, to a smaller house.  The smaller house is the building we entered. A bipartite building, the smaller house’s lower storey is of coralline limestone while the upper portion is wood, typical of Fil-Hispano colonial houses.

Antique cash register

Antique typewriter, cameras and telephones

According to a 1989 essay written by Fr.  Javellana, the smaller house is believed to have served as an azotea or recreation area.  Another possible explanation, according to Sy, for why this structure was built separately but close to the main house and connected to it at the second level through a wooden bridge, is that it could have functioned as a kitchen situated outside of the house in case of fire.

Jukebox

This house annex, though still retaining its original wood reliefs, the corbels that support the ceiling, the huge, uncut tugas posts and big planks of tugas floorboards lined side by side, already has a galvanized iron roof and renovated modern walls. The presence of disjointed smaller corbels indicates that the ceiling was much higher today than when it was first built.

Tugas (molave) post and coralstone wall at second floor

The original wooden staircase leading up to the livable space on the second floor, described by Fr. Repetti as having a newel post and decorated with intricate carvings or motifs (similar to the monastery of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño), is also gone. It is said that, when they left, the Alvarez family brought the banister and post with them and used these in a house they had built in Bohol.

A towering concrete fence, resting on the original fence of coral stone (said to be older than the house), hides the house from street view. The original entrance to the property, through a narrow road called Binakayan near Colon, has been closed off to protect, on the gate’s lintel, the monograms of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Though the Sys do not live in the house anymore, they turned the house into a semi-public museum in 2008, making it as a repository of antique furniture and other items (including a jukebox, old GE electric fan and an antique payphone) they’ve collected over the years, thus preserving it as a testament to Cebu’s rich cultural heritage.

Kitchen

In addition to the antiques collected by the Sy family, the museum also features a diorama showing the house during the Spanish era as well as the old furniture owned by the previous owners and items (Ming Dynasty coins, pottery shards, animal bones, etc.) that were unearthed at the location and displayed at the airconditioned ground floor gallery.

Cross at fence

Typical of its time, everything about the house was generous, almost grand and made to last generations. Even with the clutter of warehouse items, the innate importance of the Jesuit House was immediately apparent to us visitors.

Bas relief at the coralstone fence

The Jesuit House: Hotong Hardware, 26 Zulueta St., Brgy. Parian, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu. Tel: (032) 255 5408.  Admission: PhP50/pax (PhP15 for students). Open daily, 8 AM – 12 noon and 1 – 5 PM.  The museum is one of the stops of the annual Gabii sa Kabilin where locals and visitors alike can take a tour of the rich heritage of Cebu City.

How to Get There: The Jesuit House, across the Heritage of Cebu Monument built right on the old Parian plaza, is a few steps away from the obelisk that marks the start of Colon Street at its northern end. Taxi drivers may not be familiar with the Jesuit house so just say you want to go to the Parian Fire Station, which is 10-15 mins. away from Fuente Osmena.  From Ayala Center, take a 13C jeepney and drop off at the Heritage of Cebu Monument. From Colon, take the 01K jeepney and also drop off the monument. 

Casa Gorordo Museum (Cebu City, Cebu)

The author in front of Casa Gorordo Museum

From the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House, Rhea, Rona, Javelyn and I walked the short 140 m., via Eduardo Aboitiz St., to the Casa Gorordo Museum.  Upon entry, we first registered ourselves at the museum office and paid the PhP120 per pax admission fee.

Check out “Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

As a guided tour was still ongoing, we waited for our turn at a patio that now serves as an airconditioned waiting room for visitors, its furniture partially made of bamboo.

Visitors Waiting Room

Near the patio is the zaguan, the old basement storage area for crops and livestock.  After a few minutes our guide arrived in the person of museum curator Florencio Moreno II who explained the rooms and the artifacts.

Javelyn, Rona and Rhea with museum curator Florencio Moreno II

Located at the middle of the historic Parian District, this historic, two-storey, former bahay na bato (a typical architectural type during the Spanish colonial period) was built in the 1850s and was originally owned by Alejandro Reynes y Rosales.  In 1863, it was bought by Juan Isidro Gorordo, a Spanish merchant.

Plaque installed by National Historical Institute

According to historian Resil Mojares (author of the book “Casa Gorordo in Cebu: Urban Residence in a Philippine Province 1860-1920”), four generations of the Gorordo family, from 1863 to 1979, have lived in this house, including Bishop Juan Perfecto Gorordo y Garces (1862 to 1934), the first Filipino bishop of Cebu.

Portrait of Cebu Bishop Juan Gorordo

In 1980, it was acquired by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI). Between 1980 and 1981, after it was acquired by RAFI, the house underwent extensive renovation and restoration works and, on December 15, 1983, was officially opened to the public as a museum. On September 24, 1991, Casa Gorordo Museum was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute.

Paintings and Farming Implements

In 2005, to replace aging elements, a major second renovation was undertaken. In late 2013, it was again closed to give way to an enhancement project and reopened to the public on November 2016 with an upgrade aimed at elevating visitors’ experience by incorporating more interactive presentations and digital technology.

1939 Schwinn Mead Ranger Bicycle

The museum is maintained by RAFI through its Culture and Heritage Unit. The foundation aims to promote, through the museum, the importance of history and culture to the kids and millennials. RAFI also continued the house traditions of the Gorordo family, which include the Sinug sa Casa Gorordo (the original Sinulog steps done a day after the festival’s grand parade), the Kuwaresma procession, Pista ni San Juan and the display of the Gorordo Belen.

Mobility in Early 20th Century

The house, surviving two turbulent revolutionary conflicts and the Second World War, showcases mid-19th century and early 20th century Philippine culture and lifestyle.  It has an enriched artifact collection reflecting the lifestyle of Cebuanos from the late 1800s to the pre-World War II years.

Courtyard

It has a courtyard, a terra-cotta tile roof with Chinese upturned eaves, bayong (mahogany) wood sidings, ground floor with coral stone blocks (glued with egg whites), tugas (molave) and narra hardwood flooring and capiz windows.

1860s Tankard

1880s Flat Iron

The stonewalled ground floor displays contemporary paintings by Cebuano artists; miniature furniture sets; a 1939 Schwinn Mead Ranger bicycle; an 1860s tankard, an 1880s flat iron (plantsa); a corn mill (gilingan ng mais); models of vehicles used in Cebu; ceramics; pottery; eighteenth and nineteenth century agricultural implements (plow, tools, etc.) and other household objects such as a duwang (a large hardwood basin), four big palo-palo, clothes wringers and dryers, and a wooden for ironing clothes.

Miniature Furniture Set

Now an interactive museum mixing a little bit of old and new, Moreno also showed us a 3D virtual map (the only one in the city that has this map), an interactive exhibit that showcases the history of Cebu City from 1614 to 1945.

Mini Theater

At the mini-theater which can accommodate 30 to 40 people, we were shown a short, 10-min. film that traces the development of the payag or bahay kubo (native house) to become the balay nga tisa (house with clay tiled roof) such as Casa Gorordo. There’s also a diorama of Cebu’s social life with prominent families, originally from or linked to Cebu’s Parian district, listed.

Interactive Exhibit of Prominent Cebuanos in Old Parian

After a short flight of four stone steps which ends in a descanso (landing), we went up a higher flight of wooden stairs with banisters that lead us to a caida (anteroom) and the sala (living room) fronting the street and flanked by two bedrooms.

Stairs leading to the second floor

Intricate wood carvings on the ceiling divide the house into function rooms. The sala has rattan sets and Vienna chairs, cabinets and tables.

Second floor living area

The bedrooms have canopied, four-poster beds, made of narra or molave, with delicate carvings; rocking chair and baby crib.

Master’s Bedroom

Ladies’ Room

The Ladies’ bedroom has a crescent moon-shaped mirror said to bring good luck.

Crescent-shaped mirror of Ladies’ Room

The library has old photographs of Cebu during the early American era, books (including faded copies of Rizal’s novels) and an old globe with the former names of countries.

Old globe with the former names of countries at Library

The office has nineteenth century period furniture.

Comedor (Dining Area)

The comedor (long dining hall) showcases gold and silver kubiertos (silverware), antique plates and tazas (cups).

China Cabinet

The kitchen, with American colonial fixtures, also has eighteenth century water jars and cooking utensils.

American-era, ceramic Berkefeld Water Filter at kitchen

There’s also a chapel as Juan Gorordo, the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu, was one of the house occupants.

Chapel

Prior to leaving the museum, Rona, Rhea and I engaged in some cosplay by having our “period photos” taken, at a photo studio (obviously a late addition), wearing period costumes.

Victor gramophone

Other interesting items include a giant grandfather clock, a Victor gramophone and an 1890 Singer Sewing machine.

Azotea (Patio)

The second floor also has an unusual trellised azotea (patio), overlooking the garden (where there’s a deep but not functioning well), with 80-year old flower vines (called the “Bridal Bouquet”).

The unused well at the courtyard

Recently, the patio has been the venue for book launchings and lectures.

Museum Shop

Across the patio is a museum shop (which also underwent enhancement) that sells Casa Gorordo Museum-branded merchandise that cannot be bought from other stores.  From here, a stairs leads down to a ground floor coffee shop.

Museum Cafe

Casa Gorordo Museum: 35 Lopez Jaena St., Cebu City, Cebu. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 AM to 12 noon and 2 to 6 PM.  Closed on Mondays and holidays. The museum offers different informal guided tour packages, ranging from P120 to P180. The P180 rate will include a tour guide, free use of tablets (to scan the QR codes affixed to the items on exhibit, which give more detailed information), free earphones, a booklet, a souvenir item, and a free drink at the museum cafe.  A 20% discount is given to senior citizens, students (13 to 18 years of age), and undergraduate college students. Tel: (032) 411-1767 (RAFI Culture and Heritage Unit) and (032) 418-7234 loc. 532.  E-mail: rafi.chu@rafi.org.ph. Facebook page: RAFI-Casa Gorordo Museum.

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House (Cebu City, Cebu)

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

After breakfast at One Central Hotel, we still had time to kill before the 1 PM grand opening of the hotel, so I, together with lady media colleagues Maria Rona Beltran, Rhea G. Vitto-Tabora and Javelyn J. Ramos, decided to do some museum sightseeing.  Outside the hotel, we hailed a jeepney that took us to the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House, part of the Casa Gorordo Museum Complex.

Check out “Casa Gorordo Museum”

After paying the PhP50 admission fee to a lady receptionist clad in old Filipiniana dress and logging our names in the visitors’ logbook, we were toured around the house by a well-versed guide.

L-R: Ms. Maria Rona Beltran, Ms. Rhea G. Vitto-Tabora, Ms. Javelyn J. Ramos and the author

The Spanish-Colonial era Yap-San Diego Ancestral House, in Cebu City’s Parian District (founded in 1590 after the arrival of Chinese traders), is said to be the first Chinese house built outside of China.

Listening to our guide explaining the history of the house

Often referred to by the locals as the Balay nga Bato ug Kahoy (“House of Wood and Stones”), this ancestral house was built, sometime between 1675 and 1700, and is considered as one of the oldest existing residential structures in the country and a proof that the Parian district in Cebu City was a bustling barangay where houses are often designed with a second storey.

The house was originally owned by Don Juan Yap, a Chinese merchant, together with his wife, Doña Maria Florido.  They had three children, namely: Maria, Eleuterio and Consolacion.

Portrait of house owners Val and Ofelia Sandiego

In the 1880’s, their eldest daughter, Maria Florido Yap, married Don Mariano Avendano San Diego from Obando, Bulacan, who was, at that time, the Parian’s cabeza de barangay (district head). Since then, the structure had become a busy center of activity in Parian.

In 2008, the house was handed down to the aforementioned Val Mancao San Diego, Doña Maria’s 10th generation great great grandson, and his wife Ofelia Zozobrado-San Diego.

An art collector, one of Cebu’s famous choreographers and a heritage icon, Val believe that this ancestral house was part of Cebu’s history and heritage so he carefully restored his ancestor’s home and turned it into a private museum.

Fine china

And though there have been offers to buy the house from him, he still continues to ignore such proposals and vows never to sell this historical house in his lifetime, no matter what the offer is.

Religious statuary

Though Val and his family don’t live in this house, every so often, during weekends, they still come over to stay at the house. This ancestral house was been featured in the book Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia of noted Chinese cultural historian Ronald G. Knapp (2010, Tuttle Publishing)

An antique harp

This 2-storey house, its design combining Spanish and Chinese architectural influences, has a ground floor built with coral stone, glued with egg whites, and a second floor built with tugas (molave) and balayong wood. The curving roof was made of tisa (red terra cotta clay tiles) from China, each piece weighing 1 kilogram.

Four-poster beds

Outside is a beautiful garden (a boat from the 1800s is currently being used as a flower bed) and a still functional old well (its water is only used for the plants).

The beautiful garden

The ground floor was unpaved (since it was only used as a warehouse or kamalig) but, before we ascended the second floor’s creaking staircase, we had to wear shoe cover booties to protect the hardwood floor upstairs from scratches.

Stairway

The house was filled with well-crafted life-sized statues, religious icons and images of santos, especially of the Sto. Niño (including one sitting on a rocking chair) and angels, in every size and material imaginable (the family was known to be deeply religious).

Dining Area

There’s also an impressive array of new contemporary and ancient artworks; priceless, century-old antique pieces; a wooden harp; fine china and cutlery; antique décor; clay jars for storing water and Cebuano-made native period furniture made of balayong, tugas and narra.

Most the old items which were preserved here came from Carcar, Cebu. The front door has a knocker that came from a Chinese temple.

The bedroom had a four-poster bed and a wooden baby crib. Also at the second floor is a banggerahan with its rack for drinking glasses and cups. Having survived natural calamities and earthquakes, the house has retained over 90% of the original structure.

Yap Sandiego Ancestral House: 155-Lopez Jaena corner Mabini St., 6000 Parian District, Cebu City, Cebu. Open daily, 9 AM – 7 PM. Admission: PhP50 per person.  Tel: (032) 514-3002, 514-3003 or 253-5568. Facebook: www.facebook.com/Yap-Sandiego-Ancestral-House-214835631903226/

How to Get There: From Marina Mall, ride a multicab or jeepney that carries a ‘highway’ signage and tell the driver to drop you off at Maguikay. From there, ride any Mandaue jeepney (with a “Catedral” or “Colon” signage) that will take you to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral or Colon Street. Upon reaching these landmarks, The Yap-San Diego Ancestral House is just a walk away. At SM Cebu or near Radisson Blu Hotel, you can ride a jeep with 01K code. Go down at Shamrock and take a short walk to the right where you’ll find the Parian Plaza and its Heritage of Cebu Monument. The house is just a few steps away from it.

Check out “Heritage of Cebu Monument

Samurai Museum (Tokyo, Japan)

Samurai Museum. L-R: Bryan, Cheska, Kyle, the author, Grace and Jandy

The Samurai Museum (侍ミュージアム), an urban entertainment museum centrally located in the Kabukicho district of Tokyo’s Shinjuku (an area known more for its nightly entertainment than cultural facilities) ward, displays, under dramatic lighting, more than 70 examples of samurai armor, kabuto helmets and weapons gathered from Japanese and foreign collections.

A row of yoroi sets of armor

The rooms here are as Japanese as the museum creators can make it, with tatami mats, paper screens, very atmospheric lighting, Japanese music, etc..

The author beside a set of armor

The museum has two areas.  At the ground floor is the gift shop, the reception desk and an array of very beautifully arranged rows of yoroi sets of armor, mostly from the Muromachi (1336-1573) and Edo (1600-1868) periods.

Armor Sewn with Dark Blue Thread with 2-Piece Cuirass (Edo Period)

Facing them is a traditional painting depicting the Battle of Sekigahara. As soon as we entered the museum, we were transported into the world of Japan’s samurai culture.

Armor Sewn with Navy-Blue Thread (End of Muromachi Period)

At the first floor (or “second floor” in Japanese) are six smaller areas specializing in the Kamakura period.

Brown-Lacquered Armor (Beginning of Edo Period)

On display are swords and other bladed weapons, kabuto helmets, yoroi armor, matchlock guns and the passage to the modern era.

Brown-Lacquered Armor (Beginning of Edo Period)

The enthusiastic English-speaking guide first demonstrated a number of samurai sword moves and, for good measure, lets out a blood-curdling scream. The detailed explanation included information on the weapons on display.

Chiossone (Samurai helmet)

The actual number of exhibits wasn’t that big but it was enough to illustrate some of the main points of the history of the samurai. 

Copy of Iron Armor with 2-Piece Cuirass of Yukimura Sanada (Heisei Period)

We learned the meaning of the word “samurai;” what differentiates a samurai’s katana from other kinds of swords; that guns were also used in Japan during the time of the samurai; what was bushido (the “way of the samurai”); which animals and colors were thought to represent strength and why the samurai shave their heads.

Copy of the Armor of Kanatsugu Naoe (Heisei Period)

The guide also cleared some basic misconceptions regarding the samurai.  We learned that samurai warriors used disposable blades (after a few strikes, the blade was no longer sharp); that the sword was not “the soul of the samurai” (the bow and arrow was) and how important firearms were for the samurai who actually went to war. 

Gold Lacquered Armor with 2-Piece Cuirass (Late Edo Period)

Description of Armor Wearing

We also learned what was happening in Japanese history at the time of the rise of the samurai, including the Mongol invasion of Kyushu in the 13th century. We found out more about Japan’s three most famous samurai (Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu); learned what kind of armor each wore to battle and how the style of each has been expressed through haiku poetry.

Image of Ieyasu Tokugawa

Golden Armor of Ieyasu Tokugawa (Heisei Period)

Portrait of Nobunaga Oda Shihon Choku Shoku

Copy of the Armor of Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Heisei Period)

Image of Hideyoshi Toyotomi

Even for someone who is somewhat familiar with the subject, some of the exhibits were indeed very interesting and friendly to the casual visitor, especially to us who came from abroad (about 60% of the museum’s visitors are Westerners, 35% are Asians and only 5% are Japanese)

Gold Lacquered Armor with 2-Piece Cuirass (Late Edo Period)

The exhibitions displayed in the second floor were in chronological order and so, to easily understand and appreciate the artifacts, each item on display had detailed descriptions written in English, Chinese and Korean.

Cheska and Bryan

The super popular Samurai Photo-Shooting corner was the piece de resistance of the tour. Jandy and Bryan had their pictures taken wearing a samurai helmet (kabuto), battle coat (jinbaori) then wielding a sword and trying their hands in Samurai cosplay.  Cheska wore a kimono.  Unfortunately, there were no outfits for Kyle.

Bryan

Jandy

Overall, the Samurai Museum was a fun way for young people and parents to spend a couple of hours to further understand what it truly means to be a samurai, one of the most well-known icons of Japanese culture, rather than for serious scholars of samurai culture and history.

Gold-Lacquered Saddle Seat with Unryu-zu (Ise Ise No Kami Sadamune)

As it was already late in the evening when we visited, we missed the 10-15-min. special afternoon performance of a quite intense and realistic sword battle featuring the instantaneous drawing of the sword (if you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of a ninja).  Started since March 12, 2016, it was performed by professional actor Shinichiro Matsuura. Show times were 2PM, 3PM, 4PM and 5PM.

Katana (Japanese Sword, Oumo no Kami Tadayoshi, Middle of the Edo Period)

Japanese Sword (Dengassan, Middle of Muromachi Period)

Every Tuesday and Thursday, calligrapher Ms. Shiho Kurabayashi, designer of the logos for both the movie Sadako 3D as well as the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, will give Japanese calligraphy lessons, an art form practiced, through the centuries, by samurai and nobles. Ink, paper and writing brush will be provided.

Mutsu no Kami Yoshiyuki (Heisei Period)

Nagamaki -Sword Blade with a Long Hilt (End of Edo Period)

Visitors who will take this course will learn the fundamentals, including how to hold a brush, the right posture for writing calligraphy, how to write three kinds of letters used in Japanese language (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji), the meanings of some Kanji characters, and your name in Japanese letters. Afterwards, they can take their work home as a souvenir.

Naginata – Pole Sword (Hakuryu Yoshikazu)

Tachi (Sword, Middle of Kamakura Period)

Started since December 17, 2015, the approximately 1-hour lecture starts at 7PM. Shiho taught Japanese calligraphy (shodo) at an elementary school in the U.S.  She won a prize at Mainichi Shodo Exhibition and a special award at Taito Shodo Exhibition in Tokyo. Her prize-winning pieces also appeared on the Saitama Newspaper.

Large Armor Sewn with Red Thread (Heisei Period)

Satsuma Armor Sewn with Navy Blue Thread (Edo Period)

A Japanese sword lecture is also presented by Mr. Paul Martin, former curator at the British Museum and an expert on samurai swords.  He will teach you about Samurai history, as well as how to handle swords correctly. The talk lasts about 45 mins., with 45 mins. for viewing and additional questions.

Zohyo Monogatari (Stories of Common Soldiers)

Chiyoda no Oooku Ukiyoe (Japanese Woodblock Print)

For an additional fee of JP¥32,000 – 44,000 (depending on the armor chosen), visitors can opt for a “Sengoku” style, fully armed, photo shoot which includes photos as well as a CD-ROM containing the images. 

Matchlock Gun

Smith & Wesson, II – 32 Pistol (Heisei Period)

The Gift Shop offers a full range of original samurai gift items (authentic Japanese swords, sword stands, sword fittings, samurai armor, etc.) and samurai-themed souvenirs (dolls, replica swords, etc.)for sale as well as kitchenware, Japanese cooking knives and T-shirts.

Battle of Kawanakajima Ukiyoe (Japanese Woodblock Print)

A Crisis of Japan (Kano Seiseinin)

Samurai Museum: 1/F Eiwa Dairoku Bldg., 2 Chome-25-6 Kabukicho, 160-0021, Shinjuku, Tokyo.  Tel: +81 3-6457-6411.  Admission: JP¥1,900 (adults) and JP¥800 (children under 12 years of age).  Children 3 years old or under enter free if accompanied by an adult.
The sword show and samurai costume are included with museum admission. Open daily, 10:30AM to 9PM. (No admissions after 8:30 PM). Admission to the Japanese sword lecture (starting time: 7PM)and calligraphy lessons is JP¥5,000 (museum admission included). Advance reservation of two or more required. Website:  www.samuraimuseum.jp.  Gift Shop email: info@samuraigift.jp. Facebook: www.facebook.com/samuraimuseum.jp.

How to Get There: The museum is an 8-min. walk from Shinjuku Station’s East Exit on the JR Yamanote Line, a 4-min. walk from Seibu Shinjuku Station, a 6-min. walk from Higashi-Shinjuku Station Exit A1 and a 10-min. walk from Shinjuku Sanchome Station.

Kampana Museum (Lingayen, Pangasinan)

Kampana Museum, probably the only one of its kind in the country

The Kampana (“Bell”) Museum, probably the only museum of its kind in the country, is housed within the compound of the Cathedral of the Epiphany of Our Lord.  It displays an array of six old bells (some dating back to the 1800s) of different sizes (four of them still with their wooden yokes) of the parish on a raised concrete platform within a fenced in, shed-type enclosure.

Check out “Cathedral of the Epiphany of Our Lord

The array of six bells, a number of which are coated with verdigris

During the term of the first Team Ministry (when the “Three Kings” Parish was renamed “Epiphany of Our Lord Parish” in 1965) of the parish (composed of Fr. John R. Palinar, Fr. Jose S. Estrada, Fr. Manuel S. Bravo and Fr. Victor Z. Embuido), these church bells were replaced by new ones (sourced through donations from civic-spirited citizens here and abroad).

 

Bell inscribed with “Isaias Edralin,” probably a parish priest

These old church bells were, in turn, housed in a museum built during the term of the second Team Ministry (composed of Fr. Alberto T. Arenos, Fr. Camilo Natividad and Fr. Jovino Batecan).  The museum was inaugurated on March 31, 2002.

Bell inscribed with “Francisco Treserra,” probably a parish priest

AUTHOR’S NOTES:

Inscriptions on the bells oftentimes indicates the bell’s date of casting, its weight, the name of the saint (San Juan Bautista, Sta. Teresita, Jesus, Maria y Jose, etc.) to which it was dedicated; the name of the town (Lingayen) for which it was commissioned; the name of the parish priest (Francisco Treserra, Isaias Edralin, Felix Sanches, etc.), bishop (Cesar Ma. Guerrero, on February 22, 1929), pope (Pope Pius XI ); when it was cast; and even the name of the bell caster.

A bell inscribed with the names of Lingayen Bishop Cesar Ma. Guerrero and Pope Pius XI

I noticed one bell was cast in 1874, a second in 1883 and another in 1928. One bell is inscribed with “Fundicion de H. Sunico” possibly referring to metalsmith Hilario S. Sunico who cast 176 bells, dated 1872-98. His last known bell was dated 1937.

A bell inscribed with the year “1883”

Many of the bells are wrapped in a blue-green patina due to chemical reaction with air and sea water, over time, that causes copper, brass and bronze to form verdigris.The verdigris layer, which gives the bell its fragile beauty, actually protects the underlying metal from corrosion and degradation, which is why these bells are so durable.

A bell inscribed with “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”

Cathedral of the Epiphany of Our Lord: Poblacion, Lingayen, 2401 Pangasinan.  Tel: (075) 542-6235.

How to Get There: Lingayen is located 227 kms. (a 4.5-hour drive) from Manila and 94.9 kms. (a 3-hour drive) from Baguio City (Benguet).

Silliman University’s Anthropology Museum (Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental)

Anthropology Museum

Silliman University’s Anthropology Museum,  a must to visit if you are a tourist in Dumaguete City, was established in 1973 to bring the importance of the Filipino’s cultural heritage to the attention of the public. Formerly housed in the iconic Silliman Hall (the oldest American structure in the country), the museum was relocated to the second floor of Hibbard Hall in 2015.

Hibbard Hall

Hibbard Hall, built in 1932 and named after Dr. David Sutherland Hibbard, one of the founders of the institution, also houses the Office of the University Registrar.. It is a good museum to visit to get first-hand viewing of tools used on different historical ages of the Philippines.

The collections were well documented and arranged. The bulk of the artifacts displayed came from field works, excavations by Sillimanian anthropologists in the 1970s, purchases and donations.This airconditioned museum has seven galleries, from archaeological finds to anthropological artifacts. The first three contains exhibits collected from known cultural or ethnic groups all over the country.

Artifacts include simple tools and instruments such as basketry; woodwork; agricultural and aquatic tools; weapons (bows & arrows, etc.); clothing and ornaments; musical instruments impressive samples of Islamic cultural pieces and even objects of Siquijor “witchcraft” or traditional healing practices. The display is based on two general criteria: the type of social organization (incipient, tribal or sultanate) and the type of economic subsistence (hunting, and gathering, marginal agriculture or farming) under which ethnic group is categorized.

The last four galleries exhibit a variety of very wide-reaching and interesting artifacts, dating to the Pre-Colonial Period, collected from different parts of Negros Island and in the mountain areas of CotabatoOn display are excavated burial jars, clay pots believed to be used during burial rites; porcelain which date back to the Sung Period in the twelfth century; native jewelry; and a long wooden boat coffin with actual remains in it.

The Sultan Omar Kiram Collection tells the curious story of a young man, born in 1914, whose Christian name was Vicente Austria.  He was adopted into a wealthy Christian family and enjoyed the benefits of education and culture of that family. Later, as an army officer, he went to a Muslim village where his former nurse (yaya) recognized him and told him of his real heritage that he was, in fact, from a royal Muslim family and he was really Sultan Omar Kiram, the ruler of the Onayan Sultanate of Lanao del Sur, Mindanao.  He died in 1986 and his collection, which  includes his personal effects (clothes, different kinds of ceremonial swords, prayer beads, etc.),  was donated by his wife.

Rocks and Minerals

There’s also a display of precious gemstones and minerals and a short visual history of the Filipino people (Philippine Revolution, Second World War , Declaration of Independence, EDSA Revolution, etc.).

Anthropology Museum: 2/F, Hibbard Hall, Hibbard Ave., Silliman University, Dumaguete City. Open Mondays-Saturdays, 8 AM – 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM;  Sundays and holidays, by appointment. General Admission: PhP50 (Mondays – Saturdays); PhP100 (Sundays and holidays).  Children below 15 years and Filipino students: PhP20 (Mondays – Saturdays); PhP40 (Sundays and holidays).  Senior Citizen: PhP40 (Mondays – Saturdays); PhP80 (Sundays and holidays).