The last time I set foot at the National Gallery of the Philippines was way back in early elementary. The memories are almost gone of that long-ago field trip. If ever I stared at Juan Luna's The Spoliarium I might have done so for only a split second. Not so, during one afternoon last October, when together with Lauren and Christine off we went to the National Gallery for some art and culture cultivation experience. I stared at it for minutes, studying each details and comparing it to what I've seen in history books. The real painting is immensely imposing, covering almost all of my line of sight. Juan Luna spent an agonizing but creativity filled eight months finishing it. The result was just spectacular, its something we could always be proud of and is very fitting to be the first piece of artwork to greet visitors at the National Gallery.
Juan Luna's masterpiece along with Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's La Tragedia de Gobernador Bustamante are displayed facing each other at the Hall of the Masters. It's the first gallery you will see upon entering the gallery. From there, we walked our way to other galleries such as the Luis L. Ablaza Hall (Gallery 1) which displays Philippines religious artifacts dating back to Spanish colonial years from 17th - 19th century. On the far end center of the room, one will surely notice the altarpiece (retablo) from the Dimiao Church in Bohol.
A visual feast catered by the artworks of prominent Filipino national artists such as Fernando Amorsolo, Fabian dela Rosa, Irineo Miranda, Jorge Pineda and other late contemporaries adorned the walls of Galleries VI and VIII (Silvina and Juan C. Laya Hall).
Lauren, who was an art student before and a closet talented painter, explained and pointed to me the different styles of painting displayed inside the National Gallery. This was a type of "fauvism" she would motion to me. "You see the heavy brush work and heavy color". Then she pointed out examples of artworks belonging to the romanticism, impressionist, abstract, modern art, contemporary and dadaism styles.
There's a gallery which shows paintings of former Philippine Presidents and Gallery V features paintings of Dr. Jose P. Rizal and some of his artworks as well, while Romanesque sculpture pieces resides inside the Fundacion Santiago Hall (Gallery IV). There are a lot to see at the National Gallery, that a whole day is barely enough to have your mind embrace all of the visual orgasms. I suggest, instead of curing your boredom on a weekend by sniffing glue or going to a mall, why not spend the day and start appreciating our nation's rich history of artistic talents at the National Gallery.
Christine was already mad-starving when Lauren and I arrived late, so a couple of hours later, we were all crying for food. So off we go to nearby Binondo and decided to try out Masuki. Located at Benavidez Street, Masuki is known to serve original and homemade noodles. It has a 70's and 80's throwback interior with checkered flooring. The noodles soup is served in a bowl good for sharing between hungry wolves like the three of us. We mistakenly ordered three, so that amounted to a lot of consuming noodles and sipping "hilamos" water-like soup texture. Which tasted heavenly, if its mixed well with other seasoning.
Since we were on fire, eating-wise. We walked a short distance to Wai-Ying, a popular dimsum place also located at Benavidez Street. We ordered at least five different types of steamed and fried dumplings. It took as a while to chow down all the food in front of us, but we managed to do so amid laughing conversations.
Over-all it was a great day feeding our mind with the best of our country's art heritage and later on, our stomach with the best Chinese food in the city. No doubt, it is a must-try when you find yourself with nothing else to do and just within the city of Manila.