The Manila Times

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has been on a roll, opening its nth museum in the last few months – yesterday the Martial Law Museum, in the last few months Calamba’s renovated Rizal Shrine, the Quezon Shrine at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Tanauan’s new Mabini Museum, Taal’s Agoncillo-Apacible Museum, and in a few weeks in Dapitan for a new take on Rizal’s exile place.

Wednesday, April 27, NHCP Chair Maria Serena “Maris” Diokno and her team of historians, curators, graphic artists, electronic technology experts, a carpenter, plumber, electrician plus the resident museum staff opened to the public the newly-renovated and expanded Juan and Antonio Luna Museum, in Badoc, Ilocos Norte.

Badoc was where Juan Luna was born while his father served as Revenue Collector at Currimao Port nearby. Some decades ago a replica of the brick house was built on the site of the original Luna house and served as the Luna Museum featuring Juan Luna and the artifacts of his artist’s career, i.e., palettes, paintbrushes, etc. NHCP has expanded and upgraded this old museum into an interactive, educational and visually attractive modern museum using the latest information technology. Thus, there is a bank of computers in an airconditioned library for schoolchildren or anyone else to avail himself of Philippine history, the saga of the Luna family, Philippine art, the Philippine propaganda movement, the Philippine Revolution, etc. I saw every computer with a child at work in the library going through the images and text of the above subjects.

The museum’s expansion is the inclusion of Antonio Luna, the Philippine revolutionary general and brother of Juan Luna as a focus of half of the museum. Thus, the first floor after a well done documentary of the Luna brothers, is devoted to Juan Luna with his artistic materials as well as a visual timeline of his life with photos of the era as well as a replica of his Paris studio and various contemporary paintings and sculptures evoking him and his times. NHCP engages young artists as well as the latest information technology to bring the subject to the museum visitor in an educational and entertaining way.

The second floor is devoted to Antonio Luna with his own timeline, contemporary uniforms, interactive items like a hologram reading a letter of his from the battlefield, a box of kinetic sand to depict historic battle formations and for a museum visitor to re-arrange it himself according to his vision. Next door there are the virtual reality headsets that also take the museum visitor into the battle scenes of the Philippine Revolution.

All in all, NHCP has given Badoc a new compact museum on Juan and Antonio Luna that is a great tourist destination as well as an educational institution for Filipino youth and even older citizens. Mayor Torralba and his local government officials, his family and 10-year-old granddaughter were there for the occasion and looking forward to Badoc as the Luna destination.

The museum staff led by Angel Raguindin, curator, and staff member Cris Eduarte, among others, were impressively knowledgeable and accommodating. There were some Luna descendants present, Miguel Ongpin and family, direct descendants of Dr. Jose Luna, brother of Juan and Antonio, also cousins of my late husband, Jaime) who were pleasantly surprised at the complete Luna family tree they had made. Aside from the brothers, Juan and Antonio, as well as Jose Luna, the medical doctor, there was Joaquin Luna who served as governor of La Union and as a senator in his time (he filed the bill creating the UP Conservatory of Music). There was also Manuel, an elder brother who went to Italy to study music, came home to practice his profession and teach music but died young. Indeed, the Luna brothers and family were distinguished and meritorious Filipinos who served their country well, fulfilling the mission of the Filipino ilustrado of his time.