Please take this post as an apology for the long hiatus. My last post was September 27 – nearly a month ago! I’m even behind on my reading, so no Monthly Reads posts for September. *sigh*
My excuse, as usual, is real life. Last week, we played host to a delegation of Myanmar diplomats, and I’ve been busy handling that. It was tiring, but fulfilling, and I learned a lot. Best of all, we took the delegation on a tour of Metro Manila, and it gave me an idea for this blog post!
The Philippines is full of amazing destinations. From the islands of Batanes to the beaches of Tawi-Tawi, north to south, east to west, you will not run out of beautiful things to see and interesting things to do. But more often than not, we tend to forget that there are some pretty awesome things to do in the city as well!
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
We started the tour in Bonifacio Global City, where we headed to the Manila American Cemetery. It has the largest number of graves of any cemetery for U.S. personnel killed during World War II, and also has war dead from the Philippines and other Allied nations.
The Memorial, in the center of the cemetery, is a circular structure containing the Tablets of the Missing, inscribed with 36,285 names of those missing in action. There are also twenty-five mosaics that detail the actions of the United States Armed Forces in the Pacific, China, India, and Myanmar.
I learned something really sad at this place. See all the Sullivans on this section of the Tablets of the Missing?
George Thomas Sullivan, Francis Henry Sullivan, Joseph Eugene Sullivan, Madison Abel Sullivan, and Albert Leo Sullivan were brothers. They enlisted in the Navy with the stipulation that they served together, so all five were assigned to the USS Juneau. The ship was struck by Japanese torpedoes off the coast of the Solomon Islands, and all five brothers were killed. Survivors reported that Francis, Joseph, and Madison died instantly. Albert drowned a day after the sinking. George survived for four to five days, but suffered from delirium and went over the edge of the raft he had occupied. Naval officers visited the Sullivan brothers’ parents to give them the news about their sons. When the father asked which one, one officer replied, “I’m sorry. All of them.” The deaths of the Sullivan brothers led to the adoption of the Sole Survivor Policy by the U.S. War Department.
There is also a chapel in the center of the Memorial.
An alternative: We didn’t have enough time, but you can also pop on over to the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, where presidents, war heroes, and other such Filipinos of distinction and honor have been buried.
Oh, Ayala Museum. So pretty. So interesting. So expensive.
The truth is, I’ve been wanting to go to the Ayala Museum for forever now. I love museums. I’m exactly the kind of nerd who can walk into a museum and not come out for hours. Unfortunately, the Ayala Museum, at 225Php a pop (425Php for non-residents), is a little too steep for me. So of course I was ecstatic that this place was included on our guests’ itinerary.
The Ayala Museum has four floors. Your tour starts at the top floor, which contains an exhibit called Gold of Ancestors. This exhibit contains earrings, necklaces, rings, belts, and tons of other golden artifacts made by ancient Filipinos. These were found all over the Philippine islands, from the expected Mindoro (which got its name from the Spanish phrase ‘mina de oro’ or gold mine) to Palawan, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, and even Tawi-Tawi. The fact that these gold pieces were found in such vastly different places proves that ancient Philippine society mined gold in great amounts. Aside from this exhibit, the fourth floor also contains an exhibit called Embroidered Multiples showing 18th to 19th century Philippine costumes, as well as the A Millennium of Contact exhibit which shows Chinese ceramics recovered in the Philippines. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the fourth floor exhibits.
The third floor is a gallery devoted to the work of Fernando Zobel, who in his mid-thirties retired and returned to Spain to pursue being a full-time artist. (Don’t ask me how I feel about his art. I know jack-shit about art, honestly. I just like looking at it.)
The second floor houses the Diorama Experience (which can also be viewed on Google Play), which is one of the things the Ayala Museum is really known for. Carved by artists from Paete in Laguna, these dioramas depict sixty major events in the Philippines, from prehistoric times to the recognition of Philippine independence. The exhibit ends with a multimedia presentation on Martial Law and the other events that led to the EDSA Revolution.
On the ground floor you can find the museum’s collection of Maritime Vessels, a tribute to the boats of Philippine history upon which the Filipinos of the past relied on for everything, from travel to commerce. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of this section because we were rushing to our next destination, and I couldn’t stop and check out the boats as much as I’d have liked to. Maybe soon, when I have more time and money (hah!) I can go back and write a more in-depth post!