The Museo de Intramuros comprises two important reconstructions: the San Ignacio Church and the Mission House of the Society of Jesus. As the name denotes, the complex now houses the vast ecclesiastical collection of the Intramuros Administration.
First built in 1878 by the Society of Jesus and completed in 1889, the San Ignacio Church, according to contemporaries, was said to be one of the most beautiful in old Manila. Miller (1906), who called it the “jewel of Intramuros,” described its interior as “ravishingly beautiful,” Kemlein (1908) stated that “the charming splendor of this church will never fail to make the deepest impression upon the visitor,” while O’Reilly (1940) wrote that “nowhere in the Islands will more excellent wood carvings be found than here.” The church was the masterpiece of old Manila’s greatest artists. Don Felix Roxas, reputedly the most famous architect of the day, designed the structure, while grandmasters such as Isabelo Tampinco, Crispulo Hocson, Agustin Saez, and Manuel Flores (wood-works), Francisco Rodoreda (marble-works), and Hilario Sunico (metal-works) painstakingly decorated the interior and exterior of the building.
It was, however, was destroyed during the Second World War, and its surviving ruins was adaptively reused as a commercial office building. Its acquisition by the government through the Intramuros Administration in 1981 marked a renewed period of possibility. The reconstruction of the church was the goal, and this vision was realized in 2013 when the first cornerstones for the reconstruction was laid. The project signals not just an important step in the development of Intramuros as a monument to the Hispanic era of Philippine history as it is also an important milestone in the promotion of the country’s rich ecclesiastical heritage.
In 2018, the reconstruction of the Mission House was completed and was finally opened to the public in 2019 on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Intramuros Administration.
Location: Museo de Intramuros, Arzobispo cor. Anda Sts., Intramuros, Manila
Tuesday to Friday: By appointment only**
Saturday to Sunday: OPEN from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.
Entrance Fee: PHP 75.00 (Regular rate); PHP 50.00 (Discounted rate). Discounted rate is for children (<18), senior citizens (≥60), students, persons with disabilities, and government employees. Please bring valid ID.
Payment option: Cash only
**Exclusive for tour groups with a minimum of 10 participants. Reserve at least two (2) days before your visit via this link. For inquiries: 09157174115, 09368403225, 09155994483, or [email protected]
The Museo de Intramuros
The museum is managed by the Intramuros Administration. It is a legacy project of the agency. In our virtual tour, let’s first take a look at the physical structure.
The Immaculate Conception
The entire exhibit is entitled Imagenes/Indigena: The Indio Response to Evangelization. The Museo would like to present the story of evangelization in the context of colonization seen from the perspective of the Filipinos. The religious art displayed in this exhibit are seen as a zone of contact and a vehicle of translation. Imagine two different worlds, two different cultures meeting and trying to understand each other and reacting to each other, and art is their common ground. However, the colonizer, the one evangelizing, is imposing its way of understanding to the colonized.
The Religious Orders
This gallery as planned will discuss in the future the arrival of the religious orders in the Philippines. For now, it contains images of the Saints that belong to each order. Devotion to these saints were propagated by their respective orders in the Philippines. Most of the images are large scale and came from church altars. Churches that were built by a particular order are usually furnished with images of the saints that they advocate or those that were “produced” by the order. For this gallery, we shall also discuss the interesting facts about these saints as well as their iconographies.
The Patronato Real and Church Building
This is the courtyard gallery. After we have discussed the arrival of the five religious orders that played a significant role in the evangelization of the Philippines, we will now take a look into how churches were built in the center of pueblos created by the reduccion system.
Larawan: Religious Colonial Paintings
In contempt, the missionaries destroyed every examples of the images of indio deity that they encountered, calling them “horrid, ugly, and evil,” which influenced our perspective in re-viewing Pre-Hispanic divinities. The missionaries quickly replaced what they destroyed with more compatible painted and carved figures, with human like, hence, approachable, even amiable, appearance. These figures also look daunting, hence, strangely powerful in appearance. The gallery traces the history of religious painting in the Philippines in the context of evangelization.
Sacramento: The Centrality of the Main Altar
As more churches were built by the Augustinians, Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, and Recollects, the need for silver ecclesiastical objects grew in the late sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The Filipinos, though excellent goldsmiths, were not familiar with silversmithing, perhaps because silver was not popular, for it tarnished quickly. Just like in the case of religious paintings, the friars had no recourse during the early seventeenth century but to rely on expert silversmiths from China. Chinese artisans valued silver very highly preferring it to gold because it was the standard currency in China. All the early objects were simple and relied on forms and proportion for their beauty. Designs and processes became more sophisticated toward the second half of the seventeenth century. Filipino silversmiths, descendants of the first Chinese artisans who had by now intermarried for generations with Filipinos and were mostly based in Quiapo were adept in all aspects of the silversmith trade. They produced masterpieces, and mastered gilding and plating.
The Indio Response
In this last gallery, we find the synthesis of the whole exhibition. The indios’ initial response to evangelization was personal and intimate. Juana, the wife of Rajah Humabon reportedly cried when she saw the image of the Sto. Niño. The inido’s response was not influenced by doctrinal instructions; or if it was, its effect was minimal. The indigenous people’s perception of godhood was founded on their ancestral or anito system and its native pantheon of gods, as protectors or dispensers of good and evil. In the dawn of the production of ecclesiastic art in the Philippines, the early carvers were unschooled. The early images were often clumsy, ugly even. Yet they were compelling, visceral.
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