We are pleased to introduce Francesca Limjuco, who is a well traveled student from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and is participating in USAC’s month long program in Madrid, Spain! She has previously studied abroad in the Philippines, Italy, and China, so we can’t wait to hear how her prior study abroad adventures have prepared her for a summer in Madrid! The following is Francesca’s first post, describing a recent trip to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia and what that experience meant to her.
-Submitted by Francesca Limjuco, Abroad101’s Summer Global Ambassador in Madrid
On my ﬁrst day in Madrid, I took the advice of a very good friend and visited the Museo Nacional de Antropologia across the Atocha train station. I was amused to ﬁnd that most of the ﬁrst ﬂoor is dedicated to Philippine culture. Being Filipino, I was surprised to ﬁnd such a extensive and consolidated collection of artifacts such as everyday objects used by natives; portraits and paintings that depict the slow moving life on the island; and even a skeleton of a woman found in one of the northern islands.
My favorite thing about the museum was that they highlighted not only traditional Tagalog culture which has the most Spanish inﬂuence, but they also included a collection from Mindanao, the island well-known for its ethnic tribes and Islamic inﬂuence.
I have lived in the Philippines for most of my life and never have I seen such a display, and it is amusing that of all places I learned of my country’s rich history from our colonizer of more than 300 years. The irony is that many Filipinos regard Intramuros (an area of Manila preserved from Spanish colonial times and where the Manila Cathedral houses very important relics from the Spanish suchas religious artifacts and golden items that the Spaniards brought over) to be the symbol of our history and heritage.
That afternoon at the Museo de Antropologia made me think of one young and foolish night a few summers ago when I threw a party and I took 3 shot glasses embossed with my great grandmother’s initials from my mother’s antique porcelain cabinet for my friends and I to use, and which we ended up breaking! It took a trip around the world for me to realize that those three little glasses could have actually been useful on display in a museum somewhere for another person who would admire its workmanship and would think of them as an intricate part of Philippine history. Like the three little shot glasses, history is fragile because it is multifaceted.
The Spaniards hope to preserve their lasting legacy in a country who partly views its domination as a dark period of their history, yet it is highly admirable that they include a part of Philippine life that they were not involved as a maternal gesture of interest. In contrast to Spain who is currently plagued by a lot of economic problems, the Philippine economy is developing quickly. Yet Filipinos seek to preserve a life that for some seemed like a fairy tale.