ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND BRANCH MUSEUMS DIVISION
Promote cultural heritage and cultural awareness through exhibitions at regional branch and site museums; assists National Museum field personnel in the conduct of their research activity; provide linkages with local government units (LGUs) and other stakeholders in the area..
The Archaeological Sites and Branch Museums Division was established in 1981 under the old name "Archaeological Sites and Museums Division" or ASMD. Its creation through R.A. 4846 came in the wake of a growing need for a stronger, centralized control system in the management of the twelve existing sites and branch museums located in different parts of the country.
At the outset, ASMD was placed under Mrs. Rosario B. Tantoco, concurrent as Curator of the Museum Education Division. However, the National Museum leadership soon realized the difiiculty of putting together two different functions under one head. So Mr. Reynaldo G. Flores, former Museum Researcher of the Anthropology Division, was assigned as Officer-InCharge of ASMD.
The initial roster of 12 sites and museums was composed of the following: Tuguegarao Branch Museum, 'Tuguegarao, Cagayan; National Museum Sub-station, Penablanca, Cagayan; T. Brillantes Memorabilia, Tayum, Abra; Kabayan Branch Museum, Kabayan, Benguet; Timbac Caves, Kabayan, Benguet; Crisologo House and Memorabilia, Vigan, Ilocos Sur; Magsingal Branch Museum, Magsingal, Ilocos Sur; Bolinao Branch Museum, Bolinao, Pangasinan; Sta. Ana Archaeological Site Museum, Sta. Ana, Manila; Palawan Museum, Quezon, Palawan; National Museum Sub-station, Quezon, Palawan; T.M. Kalaw Memorabilia, Lipa, Batangas; Cotabato Branch Museum, Butuan City; and, Balanghai Shrine, Butuan City.
Through time, more discoveries in the natural sciences necessitated the creation of additional sites or museums, as part of the National Museum's agenda of bringing museum services closer to the grassroots level. Some properties selected as museum sites did not belong yet to the National Museum and were being utilized merely under a Contract of Lease or a Memorandum of Agreement with their owners. With the change of leadership in 1987, preference was given to museums located on properties that were already turned over to the National Museum. This preference was intended for the purpose of exercising full control and authority over the improvement and development of the regional sites and branch museums.
The Division was renamed "Archaeological Sites and Branch Museums Division" (ASBMD) in 1989. Unfortunately, due to the change in administration policies for shrines and memorabilia, as well as budgetary constraints, three memorabilias, namely, T.M. Kalaw, Crisologo House and T. Brillantes, were dropped from the roster of ASBMD.
Today, the ASBMD serves as a central station looking into management, administration, control and developmental planning of the sites and branch museums. The original 12 sites of the early years have now increased to 19, and the number is still expected to grow in the future as more aggressive studies in the natural sciences are pursued. Manpower complement now stands at 75, from the original of 55 in 1981.
Young as it is, the ASBMD has thrice experienced momentous heights. At least three sets of events are believed to have graced the pages of Philippine history courtesy of ASBMD.
The ASMBD worked for the restoration of an old convent of Spanish architecture built in 1676 and its transformation into the Magsingal Museum in Ilocos Sur in 1982. This museum, the very first one to have been set up, showcases the material culture of Northern Luzon. About three kilometers from Magsingal is the birthplace of priest patriot Fr. Jose Burgos. After this important event, many other successful feats followed, such as the creation of the Tuguegarao Museum in Cagayan in 1983 which depicts the Paleolithic site of the earliest man in the Philippines; the 1984 historic turnover of the Kiangan Museum, home of priceless Ifugao artifacts and ancient traditions; the establishment in 1989 of the Kabayan Branch Museum, site of the Kabayan Mummy Caves in Benguet Province; and the development of the Palawan Museum that highlights in situ the Neolithic habitation site of the ancient Filipinos, as well as the Tabon Caves Complex that houses numerous archaeological artifacts.
The ASBMD likewise set up branch museums that feature underwater archaeologic finds from Philippine waters. Formally opened in April 1994, the Fort San Pedro Museum in Cebu City is an old formidable bastion, showcasing the relics and artifacts of a Cebu-built galleon "San Diego" which sank in the l6th century off Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas, as well as the vast collection of ceramics and artifacts from various archaeological sites in Cebu Province. The Fort Pilar Museum in Zamboanga City similarly launched a showcase of underwater finds from the "Griffin" which sank in the l8th century in the waters northwest of Basilan Province. The Museum is situated within the historic bastions of Fort Pilar and is named after the patron saint of the city, Nuestra Senora del Pilar. The Butuan Regional Museum in Northern Mindanao was established as an off shoot of the discovery of the ancient "balanghai", otherwise known as Butuan Boats. Approximately three kilometers from the museum is the Balanghai Shrine where the Balanghai Boats, declared as National Cultural Treasures, as well as other archaeological materials, were unearthed.
Finally, through years of effective coordination and persevering collaboration, the Angono Petroglyphs and Site Museum measuring 5,600 sq.m. was finally donated to the National Museum by its lot developer, Antipolo Properties, Inc. (Angono Petroglyphs) in Binangonan, Rizal in 1998. The Angono Petroglyphs are considered .to be the oldest known rock art on the wall of a cave in the Philippines. This was declared a National Cultural Treasure and included in the World Inventory of Rock Art in 1985 under the auspices of UNESCO, ICOM, ICOMOS, ICCROM under the Standard Rock Art Site Record, along with other worldfamous prehistoric art. In 1998, a minimuseum was constructed at the site showcasing the archaeological materials excavated from the province of Rizal and some artworks showing the works of local artists. The inauguration of the museum on June 27, 1998 also opened the province to tourism opportunities.
A Broader Role
The function of establishing, managing, and controlling all sites and branches of the National Museum is certainly not a joke, considering that each place is apart and distinct from one another, and the culture of the people diverse. Aside from ensuring the site's world-class exhibits and properly maintained facilities, the ASBMD also needs to keep a close watch over the important collections on display and to promote the site or the museum so that the ultimate benefit of sharing valuable cultural and historical imdings to all the Filipino people is realized.
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND BRANCH MUSEUMS
The Tuguegarao Museum is considered as one of the most important branch museums because of the significance of the artifacts recovered from the archaeological excavations in Cagayan Valley. It depicts the Paleolithic site of the earliest man in the Philippines and features ethnological and geological materials of Region 2. This was formally opened on April 18, 1983.
The Kabayan Branch Museum was established to ensure the proper implementation of P D. 260 which declares the Kabayan Mummy Caves of Kabayan, Benguet a National Cultural Treasure. The mummy caves are secret niches of the native tribes particularly the Ibalois and Kankanays located in the far-flung mountains of Benguet Province. Among these caves are: Timbac located in Singkalsa Mountain 8,000 feet above sea level; Tinongchol, a man-made burial rock located in Barrio Kabayan, Benguet; Opdas Burial Cave, otherwise known as the "cave of skulls"; Bangao Cave; and, the Ambacdet Burial Cave. The Kabayan Museum has been declared an "Endangered Site" by the World Monuments Watch which needs immediate preservation. The American Express Company through the World Monuments Fund extended imancial assistance for the initial conservation and protection of the caves.
The Kiangan Museum is an ethnic museum which serves as a showcase of priceless Ifugao artifacts and ancient traditions. It stands on the historic PVAO compound facing the war memorial shrine. Kiangan Museum was previously administered by PANAMIN until it was officially turned-over to the National Museum on May 30, 1984.
The Magsingal Museum in Ilocos Sur was formerly a convent of Spanish architecture built in 1676. Restored and transformed into a museum in October 1982, the Magsingal Museum showcases the material culture of Northern Luzon. A short distance from this museum is the P Burgos House, birthplace of Filipino priest patriot Fr. Jose Burgos. The P Burgos House was turned over to the National Museum in January 1989. It exhibits the collections depicting the cultural development of Vigan and the memorabilia of Fr. Burgos and his family. Some of the highlights of the collections are the priceless 14-piece Villanueva paintings depicting the famed Basi Revolt of 1807, some religious images, Vienna furniture and ' other period pieces and heirlooms, antique collections of ethnographic and archaeological objects revealing the colorful Ilocano past.
The Bolinao Branch Museum was initially an archaeological museum established following an archaeological excavation that yielded finds of cultural ' value. Through the support and assistance of the local government which donated the lot for the construction of the building, the site was developed into a multi-disciplinary museum featuring natural history objects and ethnographic and archaeological materials collected from the neighboring towns in Pangasinan.
The Palawan Museum was formerly a station for museum iieldmen before it was developed into an orientation museum. It preserves, maintains, and interprets the artifacts in situ of the Neolithic habitation site of ancient Filipinos and houses the ethnographic and natural history objects of the province. The Sub-station 2 in Tawa-tawa maintains, preserves, and protects the Tabon Caves Complex located in the Lipuun Point Reservation where numerous archaeological artifacts have been discovered.
The Butuan Regional Museum houses the rich, artistic, historic, and cultural heritage of the Butuanons and the neighboring provinces in Northern Mindanao. This was established in collaboration with the National Museum, the Butuan City Government and the Butuan Museum Foundation, Inc. as an off shoot of the discovery of the "balanghai", otherwise known as Butuan Boats. Approximately three kilometers from the museum is the Balanghai Shrine where the Balanghai Boats, declared as National Cultural Treasures, were unearthed. The Balanghai Shrine houses one of the three balanghai boats that was conserved and other archaeological materials. Of late, a P1.415 million improvement plan for the Butuan Museum is being prepared through the Butuan City government.
The Cotabato Museum is situated in the Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook Complex within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Compound. This was established through the support of the local government unit through a Memorandum of Agreement leasing the left wing of the building to the National Museum for 50 years on April 14, 1982. The museum houses the ethnographic and archaeological collections of the different ethnic communities depicting the ancient culture existing in Region 12. In 1997, the Kutawato Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc., a group of ladies concerned with the cultural heritage of Region 12 initiated the rehabilitation and re-opening of the Cotabato Museum. The Foundation's generosity resulted in the setting up of the Sultan's Bed and the acquisition of more exhibit items.
The Museo de La Union was inaugurated in 1987 when its administration was transformed from the Philippine Tourism Authority to the National Museum. However, this was taken back by the provincial government for the purpose of housing the collections of the Agoo Museum which was badly destroyed by a strong earthquake in July 1990.
The administration of the Puerto Galera Branch Museum was turned over by the Puerto Galera Parish to the National Museum on June 5, 1990 through a contract of lease for ime years and renewable for another five years. This serves as a repository of immense archaeological collections recovered from the different archaeological sites in the neighboring Southern Tagalog provinces.
The Cagsawa Museum in Daraga, Albay is one of the latest additions to the Agency's branch museums in the 1990s. This was inaugurated on October 30, 1992 to represent the cultural heritage of Region V Considered a historical museum, it has a special showcase on volcanoes and a permanent display on Philippine geologic times.
The Fort San Pedro Museum in Cebu City is an old Spanish memento situated in the formidable bastion of Fort San Pedro. It showcases the relics and artifacts of "San Diego", a Cebu built galleon which sank in the l6th century off Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas and a rich collection of ceramics and artifacts from various archaeological sites in Cebu Province. This was acquired through a lease contract with the Department of Tourism for ten years and renewable for another ten years. Restoration of the fort was made possible through a P1.3 million grant from the Spanish Embassy. This was formally opened to the public on April 23, 1994.
The Fort Pilar Museum in Zamboanga City was initiated and established through the concerted efforts of the Department of Tourism, the Department of Public Highways, the City Government of Zamboanga and the National Museum. This museum is situated within the historic bastions of Fort Pilar and is named after the patron saint of the city, the Nuestra Senora del Pilar. It showcases the indigenous marine life of Zamboanga and the nearby islands and the underwater archaeological finds from the "Grifim" which sank during the l8th century in the waters northwest off Basilan Province. On October 27, 1993, two major exhibitions were formally inaugurated featuring the Peoples of Southwestern Philippines, the Sama Dilaut, the Subanon, and the Yakan.
The Marinduque Branch Museum is an old Spanish building which used to be a library and Municipal Trial Court of Boac, Marinduque. This was established through the initiative of former Representative Carmencita O. Reyes who was instrumental in the transfer of the property to the National Museum and the allocation of funds for the restoration of the building and installation of exhibits. The museum opened its door to the public on February 22, 1995.
The Jolo Branch Museum is a two-storey structure which was once the seat of the Provincial Museum and Library of Sulu Province. It houses the ethnographic collections of the Sulu Culture. This was formally inaugurated on September 19, 1997. Rehabilitation plans for this branch museum are already in the pipeline with the P500,000 NCCA grant during the 2nd quarter of 2001.
The Malasag Museum is situated in the panoramic and hilly parcel of land east of Cagayan de Oro City at the Gardens of Malasag Eco-tourism Village. This was once an Ethnic Museum under the DOT until the execution of a Deed of Donation and Acceptance transferring its ownership to the National Museum on April 30, 1998. It promotes, preserves, and maintains the cultural heritage and traditions of the dif ferent tribal groups in the region. The Malasag Museum was formally opened on August 14, 1998.
The latest branch museum to be established is the Escalante Museum in Negros Occidental. The old building stands on a 1,564 sq.m.-lot fronting the immense Escalante town plaza and barangay hall. This was donated by the city government in its vision of a progressive Escalante in the next century by showcasing the cultural heritage of the Escalantehanon.
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