By Dino Santos

It was a simple and intimate affair witnessed by select members of the Intramuros community and Intramuros Administration employees. On January 22, 2018, the Casa Misión was blessed in a ceremony solemnized by Rev. Fr. Reggie Malicdem and Rev. Fr. Jason Dy. Gracing the affair was IA’s founding Administrator, Dr. Jaime Laya.

Present IA Administrator Atty. Guiller Asido expressed that the blessing signifies that the building is ready for use. As a preview, a relieve of the Virgen Soledad and an exquisite antique carroza from the IA collection was displayed on the ground floor. After the short exhibition by the Administration, the Casa Misión was set to host the Manila Biennale, along with other venues in Intramuros.

The Casa Misión was built on the exact site of and inspired by the architecture of the Jesuit Mission house in Intramuros. The original structure, built upon the return of the Jesuits to the Philippines during the latter half of the 19th century, was destroyed during the Second World War. The National Government bought the site in 1981 with the vision of rebuilding the structure in the name of cultural heritage conservation. With funding from the National Government and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone (TIEZA), the Casa Misión vision finally became a reality. It is now set to house the esteemed collection of the Intramuros Administration.

The Intramuros Administration Museum will showcase some of the finest pieces produced by Filipino artists and craftsmen during Spanish Colonial Philippines. By presenting Filipino art and culture inside Intramuros during the Spanish occupation, the museum breathes life into and adds color to the history of the walls. It will focus on the story of the Christianization of the Philippines and Intramuros serving as the origin and seat of ecclesiastic and political power during the Spanish colonial period. It will trace the spread of colonial art from communal spaces to private venues, as well as the fusion of the public and the private spheres – a very Filipino context. The ground floor galleries and the courtyard will feature church art: large scale santos, relieves, paintings, altar parts, the silver collection and architectural details. The second-floor galleries on the other hand will showcase artefacts found inside convents, private chapels and homes as well as the intersection of the private and the public: paintings of Filipino masters of the period, furniture, ivory santos, costumes and textile, jewelry, icons, and urnas.

After a tour of Intramuros’ historical architecture, entrance to the Intramuros Administration Museum would deepen the tourist experience as the individual dives into the religious and secular heritage of the Philippines from the Spanish colonial period. Complementing the Casa Manila Museum, it enhances the Intramuros visitors’ experience, giving them a comprehensive historical tour of the Walled City.