By Atty. Howie Calleja
Hans Haacke (a German-born artist who lives and works in New York City) who is considered a “leading exponent” of Institutional Critique once said, “museums are managers of consciousness. They give us an interpretation of history, of how to view the world and locate ourselves in it. They are, if you want to put it in positive terms, great educational institutions.”
In today’s age of misinformation and historical revisionism, museums can act as an anchor in the storm. To those who aren’t as passionate about the significance of museums, it can often seem that such establishments are just places where forgotten objects go to enjoy their final years. But despite this, there’s a solid case to be made that the museum is more relevant today than it has ever been. From addressing key social problems to transforming how we see the future; the unassuming museum has the power to mirror and shape our society.
First and foremost, museums and galleries provide an insight into the history of our nation. And while no museum can claim to deliver a comprehensive picture, the teachings we can learn from past events, wonders and tragedies are priceless. This is especially true in the crossroads of our past. Today, it’s impossible to ignore the escalating tensions between political ideologies and alliances. Instead of finding common ground it seems that issues of partisan politics are becoming ever more polarized.
To help the public rediscover this common ground and learn to build bridges rather than breed division, many believe that museums have a part to play in giving us perspective — be it through academic discourse, personal reflection or merely holding up blunders of the past as evidence of where such behavior will lead us once more.
As such, I join the nation in acknowledging Former Vice President Leni Robredo as she inaugurated last Sept. 19, the Angat Buhay’s “Museo ng Pag-asa” to showcase campaign memorabilia, souvenirs, and artworks received from the VP’s supporters. The museum, located at 84 Cordillera, Santa Mesa Heights, Quezon City, houses the gifts and tokens from the pink campaign as proof of Filipinos’ generosity and “bayanihan” during the election period. However, due to limited space, the museum can accommodate 50 guests per hour from Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., thus only those with reservations will be allowed to enter the museum.
By the way, the nature of the Museum’s contents does not imply that it is only meant for our fellow “Kakampinks” but it is for all Filipinos who want to contribute to nation-building as well. In fact, VP Leni reminds us, “because this is a tribute to the contributions of those who joined campaign. We want others who didn’t join the campaign to feel that this is their solace, that this is for the ordinary citizens who want to contribute for the nation. This is a reminder that the fight is not yet over, that we have a country to fight for and we cannot get tired.”