Posted: Sept. 28, 2003 Inquirer News Service
THE DM Guevara Collection had traveled from one home to another since the late 1970's until it was forced into storage. It has come back to public display at the Museo De La Salle in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
The collection is an outstanding depiction of the daily lifestyle of the lowland Christian Filipino from the last century -- the Ilocano, Tagalog, Pampango, Pangasinense, Bicolano, Waray, Cebuano and Ilonggo. Its being at the Museo completes a dimension missing from the La Salle collection.
The Guevara Collection brings the forgotten and often unappreciated heritage of the everyday. In the opulent illustrado house that is the Museo De La Salle, silver carrozas are permanently decked out, ready for the next religious procession.
The family quarters on the upper level of the house is fitted out with the best of Philippine, Chinese and European hand-made furniture. Its doors are heavily carved of Philippine hardwood. Silk and damask hangings swath kapis windows. Hand-painted murals cover the walls.
The long dining table is set with an heirloom Savres dinner service and heavy silver cutlery. The large kitchen accommodates a crew of cooks and servants plus a battery of equipment ready to cook the feasts that are routine for the house.
Generally all illustrado houses in the country were furnished similarly, equipped in a manner that reflected the lifestyle that was the illustrado everyday.
The Guevara Collection, on the other hand, is about another everyday lifestyle that existed at the turn of the last century hand in hand with the illustrado. The collection shows the objects kept by the grass-roots Filipino in his house, kitchen, yard and farm.
These are the objects used to cook in the rural kitchen, to roast and grind coffee, and to wash and press clothes. There are farm implements for tilling, planting and harvesting, including well-worn yokes that once hitched beasts of burden to their plows.
Humble as these objects may be, the excellence of the craftsmanship that went into their making elevates each object from humble origins to design and artistic showcases.
More complete view
With both collections complementing one another, museum visitors now have a more complete view of colonial society- from the illustrados who set the pace in those days to the grass-roots folk whose work provided the backbone for the illustrado lifestyle and whose industry kept the rest of the country going.
The DM Guevara Collection was once the private collection of the late Carmen S. Guevara. It was among the first collections of Filipino artifacts to change from private hands to institutional. Guevara felt that turning over the collection she had so painstakingly put together to an institution would ensure its care for posterity. She then established the Guevara Foundation in 1977 and founded the country's first lifestyle museum, the Museo ng Buhay Pilipino.
What makes the Filipino?
The Museo collection told the story of the Spanish colonial lifestyle in the Philippines. It was the only place where the public could see the clothing, jewelry, furniture, palayok and pans that were kept in typical ancestral homes. There also were baskets, farm implements and artifacts from rural areas.
It was at the Museo where I discovered what makes the Filipino, an interest that continues to this day.
Recently, the DM Guevara Foundation bequeathed the collection to the Museo De La Salle.
Stewardship is the concept that the Museo De La Salle is built upon. Most of the Museo's collection once belonged to the Panlilio family of Bacolor in Pampanga. The Pinatubo eruption caused lahar to swamp their ancestral home, so the family decided to entrust their heirlooms to an institution that would commit to its permanent care.
The Gonzalez-Arnedo family, also of Pampanga, faced similar issues regarding the future of its heirlooms. They were in search of a custodian that could ensure the maintenance of the family heritage into the future. De La Salle accepted the custodianship of both the collections, pledging the construction of a museum to house the artifacts.
To augment the Panlilio and Gonzalez collections, Jaime Laya furnished a bedroom with outstanding pieces from his private collection. Other collectors either loaned or donated pieces to complement the collection.
The spirit of philanthropy that has built the Museo De La Salle is what makes the museum unique in the country.
Collecting goes beyond being just a hobby. There is joy in the process of collecting, and building up a collection takes a long process that demands total commitment. A collection is never completed, however. It eventually reaches such proportion and significance that permanence and continuity become a major consideration.
As families disperse, children sometimes fail to appreciate the collections that they have inherited. More than private individuals, it is the institutions, whether government or private, that are equipped to care for collections. The Museo De La Salle has taken on the responsibility of ensuring the permanence and continuity of the collections entrusted to it.
Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC talked about giving up his own collection of artifacts to the Museo. He said, "I realize that I must let go [of my collection] and let go graciously, to the point of making it a fine art."
Seeing the Guevara collection evoked pure nostalgia. I renewed acquaintance
with the pieces that were objects of marvel in my younger days, that taught
me the uniqueness of the Filipino culture. After doing conservation work
for years, I now look at the Guevara collection from the perspective of
how such beautiful artifacts tell the story of the Filipino people. Thus,
they are powerful educational tools.
[IKEBANA] [Bagong Pilipino Web Site] [Guevent.Com] [Museo De La Salle]