, May 24, 2024

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“Let Us Learn to Know Ourselves”

  •   2 min reads
“Let Us Learn to Know Ourselves”
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM COMPLEX, National Museum of the Philippines. In photo, National Museum of Fine Arts (Main Building)

By Marne Kilates

A friend and I were having a very interesting conversation about museums. He decried and regretted that Filipinos are not museum goers. Unlike the Chinese, he said, who are genuinely interested in their own history. He had the opportunity to compare when he visited our sprawling neighbor to the north.

I more or less agreed, but said: but the point is there are museums. People will come (like the proverbial baseball field). The National Museum, comprised of three institutions - the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, and National Planetarium, all located in the National Museum Complex in Manila--cannot be said to be not well-attended. All are free of charge. Students tours flock to them almost all weekends. PNoy left the National Museum with a P2B fund (if I recall right) for general renovations.

He said: Iba ang forced tours ng students. When I was in China, ordinary people were trooping to sites because they wanted to.

I said finally: Surely. We know that. But let those tours be starting points.

That’s said with a lot of hope.

Let us learn to know ourselves better. So we are not left with pretenders to the national interest. Let us continue to educate ourselves. Let us not stop learning when we leave school or university. Let us read, read, read. Read our own history. Read up on what the UNESCO calls each nation's Intangible Cultural Heritage. Let us be familiar with the arts, and most especially with our precolonial history. And, of course, our Revolution, when we learned to question our colonial history. Let us not cave in to those who would keep us ignorant.

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