Full Text: Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles' Privilege Speech
44th Regular Session of the 18th Sangguniang Panlungsod
June 20, 2017
Maayong buntag kanatong tanan!
Last session Councilor Lagare brought all of us to South Korea. In today’s session I’m bringing everyone back to the Philippines as we tour to notable Museums throughout the country.
To quote the words of Lord Acton, English historian and writer,
“History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.”
When General Santos City envisioned and embarked in the establishment of a museum, it realized and recognized that one vital element in the holistic development of the city is the documentation, conservation, and restoration of the local history, culture and heritage that distinctly define its people and its community.
Associate Professor Eric Zeruddo, of the UST GS CCCPET, in his insightful lecture on the relationship between heritage and development aptly entitled “ Heritage: Makakain Ba Yan?” stressed the point that development is not merely confined to economic growth but rather a complex, comprehensive, and multidimensional process, which incorporate all aspects of life and all the energies of the community.
Prof. Zerrudo pointed out that heritage conservation is action taken to sustain the value, meaning and significance of cultural resources from the past for the use of present and inspiration of future generations.
If we revisit our vision of a General Santos City that is globally competitive, livable, and prosperous; having well-educated and responsible citizens who actively participate in effective governance for a sustainable future—we can clearly discern that heritage conservation is fitting and consistent with our aspirations.
To further learn the minutiae of the ongoing city museum project, our team, Technical Working Group for the GSC Museum, together with our partner – Prof. Eric Zerrudo , University of Santo Tomas Graduate School-Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics Director together with his team composed of Ms. Beverly Bautista, the project supervisor, Ms. Kinna Mae Kwan, museum writer, and Architect Charmenne Dianne Odan, consultant – interfaced and embarked on a series of benchmarking activities last June 2 to 4 to five different museums in the Municipality of San Isidro, Davao Oriental, in Mati City, Davao Oriental, and in Davao City.
However prior to such, we have already begun benchmarking museums and have attended conferences on the subject as early as 2015.
In retrospect, when I received the Executive Order from the City Mayor mandating me to head the TWG Museum for the City of General Santos, I made a personal commitment that before my last term ends, our Museum shall stand at the heart of our Government Center. As soon as we get started, I realized that it wasn’t that easy, I got overwhelmed, perplexed and even cold feet. Based on our records, the plan of putting up a museum started 30 years ago and having fathomed the intricacies & limitations I now understood why it remained a plan for so long.
Someone once said to me that we learn things in 3 ways: schooling and training, learning from the experience of others and learning from your mistakes. The first one would take long years and lots of money, we cannot afford the last one definitely and hence the second way would be the easier route – learning from the experiences of others.
At this juncture, allow me, Mr. Chair, honorable legislators, ladies and gentlemen, to briefly share to you our learning from our benchmarking activities, and also our conference attendances as I would be remiss if I fail to share it with you as well.
In the initial stages of the conceptualization, we determined a need for essential inputs and insights in drawing up a comprehensive plan in establishing a museum. For this goal, yours truly along with Mr. Jonathan Susvilla, as members of the TWG, proceeded to the National Museum of the Philippines on February 13-14, 2015.
There we met separately with Mr. Melchor Largartija, the Chief of Museum Education Division of the National Museum and Jeremy Barns of the Office of the Museum Director and discussed with them how General Santos City can avail of the technical and expert assistance of the National Museum for the planned museum construction.
The Director’s Office also gave us a special guided tour where we were ushered to different major galleries of the National Museum that showcased the major works of national Filipino artists like Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, and Jose Rizal.
By February 27, 2015, we sent Mr. George Tapel of the Sanggunian’s Legislative Division to Tanauan City Museum in the province of Batangas. The city museum was created in 2004 and was funded by the local government of Tanauan City.
Regarding the building that shelters the Tanauan City Museum, our planned city museum has a similar situation with theirs. Their museum is put in their old municipal hall, the building of which was built in the 1930s. Given the rich history of Tanauan, Batangas starting from the establishment of the Tanauan area by Augustinian priests in 1572, the museum indeed was filled with memories and memorabilia from 445 years of existence.
Being a cultural heritage museum, it is occupied by old claywork, household items, clothing, and woodwork from the post-Spanish area and during American control of the early 1900s, photos of maps and moments throughout history, and paintings. The bronzed-colored busts of esteemed Tanaueños, like journalist Teodoro Valencia, revolutionary Apolinario Mabini, and former president Jose P. Laurel, can also be found in the museum.
On August 18-21, 2015 we attended the 2015 International Conference of Museums held in the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City.
In that event we were able to gain valuable insights on the importance of museums in promoting sustainable development in every society. We had a series of lectures and plenary sessions that discussed policy, the identification of sustainable practices for museums, collaboration for sustainable development, the development of city museums for sustainability, and the interactive living museums across the Negros region.
During the first day of the conference, we toured the Negros Museum, a provincial museum located at the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol Complex which displayed the lifestyle and the society of the Negrense, and art pieces and exhibits of local Negrense artists.
Also toured was a cultural and religious museum: the Museo Negrense, located just inside the University of St. La Salle, the event venue. This particular museum is filled with diocesan ecclesiastical objects and other religious antiques, given the history of the university as a Catholic school.
We also passed by Museo sang Bata sa Negros located in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. The museum which is located at the port area of the city facing the Carbin Reef is a highly-interactive natural museum meant for the supplementary education of kids on marine biology.
It was during this event that we were able to meet with Father Isidro “Didoy” Abaño, the director of the University of Santo Tomas Museum. After a conversation with Fr. Didoy about our planned museum, he then facilitated our meet-up with Prof. Eric Zerrudo.
By December 3-7 of 2015, we were fortunate to once again attend the conference held at Ilo-ilo City. This time around, the conference had attendees from 24 participating countries of the International Conference of Museums Asia-Pacific Alliance (or ICOM ASPAC). Represented by Mr. George Tapel, the TWG was able to exchange ideas with other attendees regarding museums and sustainable development.
The objective of the conference is to serve as an avenue where museum handlers from different nations to share with each other their culture and heritage while learning from others. People’s mutual respect for cultures and diversity nurtures mutual respect and unity that can lead to a more harmonious global community.
Last year, together with our Secretary, Assistant Secretary, and Division Chiefs to visited Quezon City Sangguniang Panlungsod to learn why they got the Local Legislative National Award.
On that occasion, we were able to visit QCX, or the Quezon City Experience, an interactive public museum that espoused the city’s rich history and “transformation as the country’s premier city” which was spearheaded by Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte as well.
QCX, which opened on November 9, 2015, is a massive museum containing 16 galleries full of interactive displays that are definitely aimed to attract the public, and more specifically, the Millenial. The museum also has a 100-seat theater, shops and restaurants in its business center, 60-seat lecture room, conference rooms, and rooftop gardens.
Inside, the museum tells the story of its city: replicas of many landmarks and iconic places in the city in different sizes including the life-sized President’s Office in Malacanang and the small Oblation statue and surrounding buildings of UP Diliman, memorabilia of the city’s namesake President Manuel L. Quezon and interactive displays on stories of the city’s early beginnings, a section focused on the urban horror stories of the city like the White Lady behind the Balete Tree and the ghosts of deceased World War II combatants in many parts of the city, and re-imagined places in the city like the busy EDSA Avenue and an interactive television recording studio to commemorate the big media companies in the city like ABS-CBN and GMA-7.
Due to the massive annual revenue earned by Quezon City, the QCX project had a funding of at least 500 million pesos from the city’s local government.
(Note: Quezon City had a 16.365 billion peso income in 2014, according to the Commission on Audit.)
We have also visited the historical anthropomorphic jars of Maitum, Sarangani Province. These were located at Maitum’s Municipal Hall.
These jars which were discovered in 1991 are believed to have been created in 190 BC to 500 AD, the Developed Metal Age Period in the Philippines. The items tell the story of not only the history of Mindanao but also the story of the pre-colonial Philippine archipelago.
During our visit, we determined that the original jars are now under the care of the National Museum of the Philippines. But although only replicas remain in the municipality, the local government of Maitum still keeps the shards of some broken anthropomorphic jars in their possession.
The latest on our museum research is our visit to museums in Davao Oriental and Davao City, conducted last June 2-4. During our two-day investigation; we visited 5 museums, namely:
- The Mt. Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum,
- The Subangán Davao Oriental Provincial Museum,
- The Davao Museum of History and Ethnography,
- The Museo Dabawenyo, and finally,
- The D’ Bone Collector Museum, Inc.
After more than four hours of speedy driving from General Santos City, we arrived at the Mt. Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum which is sitting on the side of the majestic mountain facing the Davao Gulf.
The 6000-plus-hectare Mt. Hamiguitan is shared by three localities in Davao Oriental – Mati City, Municipality of Governor Generoso, and Municipality of San Isidro, each local government having a different mountain trek path for mountaineers.
In 2014, Mt. Hamiguitan was given by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization or UNESCO the title of World Heritage Site, and just recently an ASEAN Heritage Site.
The driving factor that led to this award is its century-old 225-hectare pygmy forest rooted on a very healthy, mineralized layer of soil which then made the forest the fertile habitat of over 957 recorded species of flora and 423 recorded species of fauna including but not limited to bats, insects, frogs, tarsiers, hogs, and birds, like the critically-endangered Philippine Eagle. This lush pygmy forest is just part of a 2000-hectare forest that is considered to be a protected area due to its ecological value.
For this reason, in addition to the promotion of awareness of the mountain and its magnificent biodiversity, the museum was established.
The museum’s architectural design was planned to give the tourists a simulated mountain-trekking experience on Mt. Hamiguitan. The gallery proper is filled with interactive displays, photographs and specimens of the forest’s ecology, with interactive displays describing flora and fauna, and specimens that can be seen on the mountain like various plants and flowers, rocks and minerals, insects, land and amphibious animals.
Our tour guide explained that the mountain’s original name was Mt. Hagimitan, but an error in the construction of the museum, particularly in designing the name and logo, ultimately led in the changing of the mountain’s name altogether. The organizers later determined that the use of the new name is an aid in avoiding confusion between the mountain and the Hagimit Falls of Samal Island, Davao del Norte.
The museum was created thru the efforts of the Local Government of Davao Oriental, headed by former Governor Corazon Malanyaon and the cooperation of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; it had a 45-million funding from the DOT.
After the Mt. Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum, we then had a chance to talk with the mayor of the Municipality of San Isidro, Davao Oriental – Mayor Justina Yu.
During our conversation, we learned that their local government has been protecting Mt. Hamiguitan and its ancient forest since 1965. She has successfully pushed for the legislation of banning mining and the farming of certain breeds of banana in her municipality. She also explained that out of the three localities that share the mountain, only her municipality – a municipality that is so rich in minerals like nickel, copper, and gold that even the soil beneath the her municipal hall is a deposit for marble – has banned mining outright.
Moneywise, the deposits of minerals in that part of Mindanao would have surely brought millions if not billions of pesos into the coffers of the provincial and municipal governments. They could have earned so much and possibly become a highly-industrialized region, probably more industrialized than our city if so.
But the municipality of San Isidro, Davao Oriental chose otherwise.
It boiled down on two choices. It was between modern industrialization and the environment. We were blessed to witness the result of their leaders’ and citizens’ choice back then. We were able to witness the magnificence that is Mt. Hamiguitan.
After our courtesy call, we reached the Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum located in the provincial capital of Mati City. The word “Subangan” came from the Mandaya term “subang” which means “to emerge,” in connection to Mati coined as the “sunrise capital” for being located in the easternmost part of the archipelago.
The interior architecture of the museum was mainly designed to accommodate its main attraction: Davor, a 53-foot sperm whale skeleton which first was found deceased on the shores of the Municipalities of Governor Generoso and San Isidro, Davao Oriental. The museum has an oval-shaped atrium that shelters Davor, with two staircases on the sides to connect to the second floor which is filled with wall-sized pictures of tourist posts in and around the province.
There are also exhibits on the cultural history of the province: the ethno-linguistic groups of the province, the Christianization of the region, and the Islamization of Mindanao. Artifacts of the local Mandaya and Kaagan tribes that tell their livelihood, social structure, warfare, fashion, agriculture, literature and music occupy most of the cultural history exhibits.
A total 35 million pesos was funded for the Subangan Museum. A sum of 10 million pesos was provided for the museum project thru the Priority Development Assistance Fund of two Davao Oriental congressmen, another 10 million pesos thru the Department of Tourism, and the remaining from the provincial government of Davao Oriental.
The following day, we visited the Davao Museum of History and Ethnography. It was opened to the public in 1977, with the efforts of the Zonta Club of Davao City, Inc., and has been open to the public since then.
The two-floored museum is relatively small. During our visit, the ground floor’s Don Antonio Floirendo Gallery currently featured the “Davao Arts: All In The Family” exhibit, highlighting the talents of Dabawenyo artists and performers. Personal mementos, portraits, and nationally-acclaimed art pieces of like the families of Architect Ramon Basa, the songs, poems and paintings of the Ayalas, the dancing prowess of the Locsins, and the writings of the Edadeses.
On the second floor, the Carlos O. Dominguez, Jr. gallery was filled with artifacts from the Indigenous Peoples and the Moro communities of Davao – from betel nut boxes, jars, clays, pots, swords, jewelry and clothing, all of which had three terminologies for every single object: Tagalog, English, and terminology of the ethnic tribe of which the object came from. Mannequins were also placed on this floor, designed with care to precisely portray how jewelry and clothes are worn and how rituals are performed, like the mannequin exhibit on the Bagobo thanksgiving festival.
The Davao Museum of History and Ethnography, being a private museum, is largely dependent on the Davao Museum Foundation, Inc. and other private donating individuals and organizations.
After the Davao Museum, we then proceeded to Museo Dabawenyo, located in the building which was previously used as a Court of First Instance, within the vicinity of the Davao City Hall and Sangguniang Panlungsod of Davao City.
The museum presented a linear narrative of the city’s history. Gallery 1-A Lumadnong Dabawenyo is filled with miniature huts and boats, crafts and instruments, and traditional-clothed mannequins of 11 distinguished tribes of Davao that still exist today: The fishing Muslim tribes of the Maranaos, Iranun, Kagan, Sama, Tausug, and Maguinganaon; and the mountain- and forest-dwelling non-Islam tribes of the Giangans, Tagabawas, Atas, Manobos and Matigsalugs. All of these tribes have respective seats in the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Davao City. These tribes also have deputy mayors which are appointed by the city mayor.
The guide then led us to the Gallery of the Hall of Fame which showcased us the city’s colonial past, beginning with the Spanish era and how the Spaniards are pushed back by the local tribes, and the courageous, but unsuccessful, resistance of local chieftain Datu Bago against the forces of Don Jose Oyanguren of Spain. In commemoration of his memory, the Datu Bago Award was created in 1969 to recognize residents who have contributed to the development of the City of Davao with exemplary competence and dedication and who best serves as a model of excellence and as an inspiration to the residents of Davao.
The tour guide then proceeded Gallery 1-B Duwaw, Dabaw, Davao to discuss the American colonial history of Davao – the period when the Americans coined Davao the “garden of the gods,”; and the Japanese regime where World War II artifacts and memorabilia.
On the second floor were more galleries. Gallery 2-A Gallery of the Undivided Davao History or the Nanay Soling Duterte Hall which displayed mementos from the 60s and 70s, from before the creation of the chartered Davao City, and photos of the previous governors of the defunct Davao province. The guide then explained the origins of the name “Davao” – a phonetic blending of three Bagobo subgroups’ names for the Davao River: Davah, Dawaw, and Dabo.
Gallery 2-B Bahaghari Space showcases art pieces of local artists, trade and culture, while Gallery 2-D Hall of Peace featured the efforts of people in building a more peaceful world.
Given the significant population of their community and history in the city as traveling merchants, Gallery 2-C Dabawenyo Tsino is dedicated for Chinese heritage and memorabilia in Davao.
The museum was established thru a 2006 Sangguniang Panlungsod ordinance and was opened in 2008. The creation of the museum was funded by the Special Education Fund of the city’s Local School Board.
And finally, the last museum we visited during the benchmarking activity was the D’ Bone Collector Museum. It is a privately-owned museum by American Darrel Dean Blatchley, an American bone collecting hobbyist who started collecting animal bones since he was 7-years old.
The museum houses almost 800 skeletons of different fauna, big and small. Tiger, dog, bear, buffalo, horse, snake, crocodile, birds, dolphins, turtles, and a 41-foot sperm whale are just some of the specimens in the museum. It is hard to believe that over 2700 specimens on display are placed in a 700-square meter 3-story tall structure.
The assisting tour guide emphasized that all specimens of the museum are donated and that the museum has not killed any animal for its collection.
At the moment, the TWG is consolidating all the data about the culture and history of our city acquired from the cultural mapping activity and the various museum benchmarking activities and conferences attended to send all of it to our partners from the University of Santo Tomas – Graduate School Center for the Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics. They will then further study the acquired data to conceptualize the interior design and arrangement of our city’s stories in our upcoming museum.
As to the construction, we are currently at the first phase of the renovation of our Old City Hall.
Last February 15, we held the museum’s ground-breaking and capsule-laying ceremony. We then began the demolition of the city hall last April 17; the delay is due to the delayed withdrawal and hauling of office materials from the building.
By May 22, we conducted a random inspection on the museum when the reports came to us that truckloads of lumbers from the site were withdrawn from the site. We then held a meeting attended by the respective representatives from the City Engineer’s Office, the City General Services Office, and the contractor, in which we discussed the proper disposal and proper inventory of materials, and requested the personnel to provide the TWG a report on the whereabouts of the withdrawn and unreturned lumbers. Last June 9, we were updated by the contractor’s engineer that there is now an initial inventory conducted by the City Engineer’s Office, and that the lumbers were transferred to the landfill area.
At the moment, the estimated completion of Phase 1 by the contractor is at 15%. The lack of space for big demolition equipment is a big factor in this delay.
In spite of this delay, rest assured that we are exhausting all legal means to fast track the construction of our city museum.
Our local government unit, including us in the TWG and the 18th Sanggunian, fully imbibes to the commitment to connect every single citizen of General Santos City to the city’s roots and history.
With our city’s steady growth in population and economy, plus the global interconnectivity of cultures, and the gallimaufry of thought, much is at stake for these trying times, since what is at stake is the preservation of our identity as the people of General Santos City.
And since we are speaking of our identity as Generals, I would like to congratulate MSU-Gensan for the opening of the Mindanao State University-General Santos City Museum of Cultural History and the Arts last June 8. Its rich collection of objects from the different ethnic tribes of our locality is another step forward in our goal of preserving our identity.
We join hand-in-hand in this endeavor to preserve our city’s cultural heritage. No doubt we will work together and persevere to nurture the current and the next generation of Generals by educating ourselves of our cultural history.
Building a museum is more than having a structure to showcase tangible and intangible items.
It is an introspection that focuses on our distinct local history, culture and heritage.
To quote Carl Jung,
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
Magandang umaga sa ating lahat.