Monday, August 15, 2011

'Genius Has No Country' at the Yuchengco Museum

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Yuchengco Museum entrance at the RCBC Courtyard 
I took a side trip in my  Lakbay Jose Rizal @150  journey and visited the Yuchengco Museum in Makati City to see the special exhibit on Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. The RIZALizing the Future exhibition, according to the Yuchengo Museum's website, "presents the challenge to cultivate all our good qualities in order to perfect ourselves and, together, build a race proud and strong.Through his writings, Rizal offers a visionary look at what we Filipinos and our country can become."

Yuchengco Museum has 4 floors, which I was able to leisurely explore as I was the only visitor at that time.    At the entrance of the first floor exhibit area was an explanation of the "RIZALizing the Future" and a view of  different portraits and art works from private collections. Walking around, I realized that a lot of the paintings were made by distinguished Filipino artists such as Juan Luna, Felix Hidalgo, and Fernando Amorsolo, among others.  Although the collection was not as extensive as the one in the National Museum's Art Gallery, each work of art proves Rizal's statement that  "Genius has no country."

The second floor showcased Chinese and Filipino visual arts, a tribute to the artistic expressions that shaped the country's heritage. During the time I visited, "Ode to Beauty" was on exhibit and it showcased the brush paintings of Chi K'ang (Master Chi Kang), well-known for his mastery of the guo hua or traditional Chinese painting style. Although the exhibit featured featured only one of his three masterstrokes (Maidens), I was impressed  by his ability to capture the essence of the female form especially his 4 panels representing the four seasons. Incidentally, Philippine National hero Jose Rizal has Chinese roots

"RIZALizing the Future"
The third and fourth floor had a veritable wealth of old photos, artworks, memorabilia, printed materials, and other valuable items that provide a glimpse of the life of the most recognizable hero in Philippine history, as well as pop culture's representation of his beliefs, ideals, and likeness. Among those on exhibit, I found these things particularly striking:

Loving Rizal:  In celebration of Jose Rizal's 150th Birth Anniversary, many people try to "humanize" Rizal by portraying him as some sort of Casanova, a ladies man who had girl friends across Asia and Europe (!). The gallery on Rizal's loves, however, show otherwise. Still, he had his share of confusion, heart breaks, betrayal, and melodrama, just like the rest of us.

Mother's Revenge: It was great to find out the story behind Mother's Revenge, a wooden sculpture made by Rizal (the original is on display at the National Museum). Initially, I thought it had something to do with Rizal's mother or his love for his country. Surprisingly, "Mother's Revenge" emphasized the value of discipline and obedience. (Find out the whole story by visiting the museum.)

The original "Mother's Revenge" made by Rizal
Suspended Garden: I am truly mesmerized by this site-specific installation by Tony Gonzales and Tes Pasola. From a distance, it looked like a clutter of  dark, round rocks hanging from the ceiling, with a few rocks strewn on the floor. Following the Viewing suggestions, I looked at this artwork from the center, from the sides, lying on the floor, and from the top floor. The rocks, made from recycled pulp,  seemed to move, float, and glisten in space. Juxtaposed with images of Rizal's execution and text reflecting the hero's values, it reminded me of how small I am in the scheme of things, and challenged me to think of the mark I will leave in the country and in the universe. 

He Ain't Perfect: This is basically an interactive gallery that presents the strengths and weaknesses of the iconic Filipino hero.  Viewers are invited to write their reactions on Post-it notes and post them on the gallery. It's both inspiring and amusing, a reminder of one's capacity to succeed despite limitations.

The RIZALizing the Future  exhibit  inspires, instructs, and challenges, much like other things on display at the Yuchengco Museum. This exhibit runs until October 29. The Yuchengco Museum is open daily (except Sundays and holidays), from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
Yuchengco Museum's Location: RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue corner Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City. To get there, take a cab or an FX to Ayala Avenue and get off at the RCBC Plaza.

Museum fee:  PhP 100 (includes admission to RIZALizing the Future)
Students 15 years old and above with ID:  PhP 50
Children and Senior citizens:  PhP 25   

Note: The museum's website says that taking of photos inside the museum is allowed but during my visit, the  security said that it is not.  If you wish to take photos, check with the museum in advance:  889-1234. 



  1. Is the museum open on sundays? Yun lang kasi free time ko and I was hoping to go there after going to mercato centrale..

  2. It's closed on Sundays, although there's a sign inside the museum that says it's open on Sundays by appointment. Try giving them a call: 889-1234. :-)

  3. @the backpack chronicles:
    The museum is open Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 6pm. We're closed on Sundays and holidays.

    Art Sanctuary, the commercial art gallery renting space at our second floor, follows museum hours, but is open on Sundays by appointment. You may email if you'd like to see the paintings by National Artists and esteemed Filpino artists available for sale at the gallery.

  4. @Carla Martinez: Thanks for sharing that with us.

  5. Thanks sa pag share.. nito.. :)


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