Gallery Showcasing Marikina’s Culture and Heritage Opens
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A gallery showcasing Marikina’s more than three centuries of culture, heritage and traditions is now open on Malaya Street in Brgy. Malanday. The gallery aims to educate the young generation about the city’s glorious past and cherised values.
The gallery, called Bulwagang Kamalayang Pilipino ng Bahay Malaya, is housed in the former ancestral home of the Josef family. The ancestral home was demolished and a new
two-storey structure was built using materials from the old house.
“We are still on our soft opening,” Jenny Bonto, executive director of Artists Welfare Inc. and who manages the gallery, explains when we dropped by one afternoon and noticed that the structure in front of the house, where most of the Josef family’s heirloom pieces such as an antique cabinet, plates, and old black and white photographs were on exhibit, had no walls.
The gallery opened to the public on April 28 and showcased old tools and machines used in making shoes, as well as antique furniture pieces, a century old image of the Immaculate Concepcion owned by the Josef family. Traditional Filipino dresses made by artist Ramon Obusan were also on exhibit.
“This exhibition of old photographs from 1946 to present, including old objects from our family heritage, is our way of showing gratitude and respect to the values handed down by our forefathers,” writes Fernando Josef, who was born in the ancestral house on Malaya Street, in a pamphlet given to us during the interview.
“This celebration of family and community is a priceless gift to new generations. May this exhibit inspire every Filipino all over the world to love their heritage and be guided by its values towards a stronger future,” says Fernando, who is also the artistic director of the Tanghalang Pilipino and an occasional television and movie actor.
There are plans to hold performances such as dance and drama showcasing Marikina’s culture in Bulwagang Kamalayan. Works of national artists are also being eyed to be exhibited here, Jenny says.
The gallery is part of the grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The other part of the grant, called Cultural Consciousness and Youth Participation, was used to fund the holding of a six-day workshop for artists, teachers and local government officials from Marikina.
“Bulwagang Kamalayan is a repository to develop culture in the community. It’s a space for art, for culture, for heritage not just for Marikina but for other places in the country that want to hold an exhibit here,” says Jenny. “Right now, what we have are antique pieces and items owned by the Josef family.”
The gallery is surrounded by plants and shaded by fruit-bearing trees, including a hundred-year-old balimbing. There is a pond, maya birds on trees and chickens roam freely, adding to the provincial, old-world feel.
Since the gallery is still on its soft opening phase, Jenny recommends dropping by on Sundays since the operating hours have not yet been fixed.
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