The Metropolitan museum of Manila, that is, which I visited yesterday to view the ancient Philippine maps exhibit.
The Manila Met is a small museum in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas compound, and it has a gold and earthenware gallery at the basement, some sculptures, and some paintings and replicas by Felix Resureccion Hidalgo and Juan Luna.
They are all very interesting, for anyone who wants to increase or refresh their knowledge of Philippine History.
Below are the tidbits I got:
1. Ancient Filipinos (who weren’t called Filipinos then) knew how to work gold, with some techniques, like that used in maharajah sashes, only found in the Philippines. I am not particularly inclined towards jewellery and non-functional ornaments, but I found their crocodile appliqué really nice. I would buy one if they’re available in the market today.
2. Warriors wore gold leglets. I was only familiar with bracelets and anklets until yesterday. And the Filipino word for warrior is bagani.
3. Allain Manesson Mallet, a French cartographer, in 1682 said of Manila:
– People bathed all day for pleasure and cleanliness (Probably in Manila Bay and Pasig River)
– We had rice wine and oranges (I have never tasted Manila rice wine and didn’t know it existed.)
– Sugar was super cheap because the Spaniards built lots of sugar mills
– Manila is clean and beautiful and people are able to walk shaded all day
– There were 2,000 Spaniards, 2,000 Indios, but 20,000 Sangleys. (I am not sure about his numbers, as how can Sangleys, or Chinese immigrants, outnumber the Indios unless perhaps he was referring only to residents of Intramuros).
I love walking and exploring on foot is one of the things I look forward to in foreign travels. The Manila I was born into is sadly not conducive for walking.
I love maps and how ancient maps give me that something that I used to know poignance.
4. Ferdinand Blumentritt was a catographer.
5. In the 1700s, maps made by various cartographers spelled Bohol, Bojol; Cebu, Zebu; and Palawan, Paragoia/Paragua/Paragoa. Looking at the Palawan map, i surmised it is probably because the island looks like a closed umbrella, with the northern part as the handle.
6. The mother of Philippine maps came out in 1734, made by Pedro Murillo Velarde, drawn and engraved by Filipinos Francisco Suarez and Nicolas dela Cruz Bagay respectively. It showed Panacot Shoal as part of the historical territory of the Philippines. Oddly, Panacot, which means a means to scare, is now known as Panatag, meaning calm or at peace. It was also called Bajo de Masinloc which showed its connection to the town of the same name in Zambales. The name Scarborough I do not know from where it came.
7. Petrus Kaerius of Amsterdam was the first to create a Philippine map with established historical borders in 1598. The Philippines was drawn on its side then, like it was lying in bed. I wonder how a Dutch came to be the first drawer of a Philippine map?
8. The British had an awesome drawing of the map of Manila. I stole a photograph, again, not of the map but of the text of William Nichelson the cartographer.
9. In 1825, Schlieben printed a map of the Philippines together with some African islands as part of the Spanish territories. There was an African island called Fernando Poo.