Thursday, January 16, 2014

Silliman Anthropology Museum : A Time Travel Experience

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The first on the list of tourist spots we visited while we were at Dumaguete was the Silliman Anthropology Museum. It was based at the Silliman University grounds located at the southeastern side of the main campus.

The museum is housed at the Silliman Hall which is the oldest standing American structure in the Philippines. Its architecture is reminiscent of the Stick Style type of architecture that characterize American buildings in the late 19th century. Some of the materials used to build it were salvaged from an old theater in New York. The present structure was built in 1909 as an addition to the original structure built in 1902, now demolished.

The museum offers one of the best collections of Anthropological findings within the Province of Negros Oriental. Open Monday 8:30 - 11:30 AM - Friday 2:30 - 5:00 PM. Holiday or Weekends - by appointment.

Silliman University (also referred to as Silliman or SU) is a private research university located in Dumaguete, Philippines. Established in 1901 as Silliman Institute by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, it was the first American private school to be founded in the country.

The University is named after Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, a retired businessman and philanthropist from Cohoes, New York who gave the initial sum of $10,000 to start the school. It is registered as a National Landmark by the National Historical Institute, and is one of few private higher education institutions in the Philippines that have been granted full autonomous status by the Commission on Higher Education.

In front of the museum is an image of the late Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman.

The museum was opened to bring the importance of the Filipino’s cultural heritage to the attention of the public. The bulk of the artifacts displayed came from field works, excavations, purchases and donations.

The museum has seven galleries. The first three, contain exhibits which have been collected from known cultural or ethnic groups all over the country. These items or artifacts include simple tools and instruments such as basketry, agricultural and aquatic tools, weapons, clothing and ornaments as well as musical instruments.

The display is based on two general criteria: the type of social organization (incipient, tribal or sultanate) and the type of economic subsistence (hunting, and gathering, marginal agriculture or farming) under which ethnic group is categorized.

The exhibit on the last four galleries are artifacts excavated from different parts of Negros Island and in the mountain areas of Cotabato.

A number of excavations done by Sillimanian anthropologists in the 1970s yielded ancient artifacts, like burial urns, and porcelain pieces which date back to the Sung period in the twelfth century

They say that the entrance fee is to enter the museum was Php 30.00 for General Admission. But since the visit was part of our packaged tour we were spared to paying the entrance fee.  Picture taking was not allowed at both the first floor and especially at the air-conditioned second floor rooms of the museum where several antiques are on display.

The rates shows that foreigners have to pay Php 40.00, Senior citizens get to pay a discounted rate of Php 24.00, while students with valid IDs need only pay Php 10.00. Children below 15 years old also pays only Php 10.00.

At the lobby of the museum was a painting of a woman with an uncanny three pairs of breasts.

There was also a statue of this native half-naked woman that seems to be pounding some rice, located at the base of the stairs going to the second floor.

Also in one of the rooms at the ground floor were some pottery including some that were said to be used for the burial of people. There was even one with a skull inside. Earlier I said pictures but we already took the pictures before we were warned it was not allowed. Also the tour guide at the first floor was very lenient and allowed some of us to take pictures since she said the artifacts there were already registered to them.

We saw a map of Bacong and the excavations done at different sites.

Were now proceeding upstairs to the second floor.

What was very interesting for many of us at the second floor of the museum were the various collection of amulets and oils used for and against sorcery, and the voodoo doll confiscated from a known "mangkukulam" caught by the police insiquijor during the old days. There were many great artifacts explaining the art of the healers and their so-called magic; and beautiful historic photos with captions explaining the history of the Philippines.

Too bad I won't be able to show you the display at the second floor (the tour guide at the second floor was a different one and was very strict) since no picture taking was allowed. I have to say that the collection at the second floor were actually the best among the artifacts on exhibit at the museum.

What you will see now are shots taken at the third floor (where it was terribly hot because there was no airconditioning - the air-conditioning at the second floor was primarily used and required to preserve the artifacts there - so I guess the display at the third floor was of less importance).

There was even this furniture that was already on its way to collapsing as it is already missing one foot due to termites and old age.

So is time to bid farewell to the museum for now. Bye and thank you for an educational and historic experience - a time-travel back in time!

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