A short walk from the National Gallery on the opposite side of Finance Avenue, the absorbing National Museum of the Filipino People occupies what used to be the Department of Finance Building, a stately Greek Revival edifice completed in 1940. Much of the priceless collection of artefacts on display has been retrieved from shipwrecks, most notably the San Diego, a Spanish galleon that sank off Fortune Island in Batangas after a battle with the Dutch in 1600. Recovered in 1992, the ship yielded over five thousand objects, not all intrinsically valuable: you’ll see chicken bones and hazelnuts from the ship’s store, as well as tons of Chinese porcelain, storage jars, rosaries and silver goblets. Other rooms contain objects from wrecked Chinese junks, going back to the early eleventh century – compelling evidence of trade links that existed long before the Spanish arrived.

The well-labelled anthropology section on the third floor is equally engrossing, with displays from almost every region and tribal group in the Philippines, including the enigmatic anthropomorphic jars discovered in Ayub Cave (Mindanao) that date back to 5 BC. These jars were used to hold the bones of ancestors.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Philippines features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Puerto Princesa Underground River: the Philippines' 8km-long subterranean wonder

Puerto Princesa Underground River: the Philippines' 8km-long subterranean wonder

Deep underground on the island of Palawan in the Philippines lies the Puerto Princesa River. Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the ‘New 7 Wonders o…

10 Jan 2017 • Esme Fox insert_drive_file Article
The stunning Philippines in pictures

The stunning Philippines in pictures

Rough Guides writer Kiki Deere shares some of her best photographs of the Philippines from her latest trip to Southeast Asia.  Comprising 7107 islands, the …

18 Dec 2015 • Kiki Deere insert_drive_file Article
Gorgeous video explores the Philippines from above

Gorgeous video explores the Philippines from above

The Philippines is beautiful from the ground, but from above it's even better. This video soars hundreds of metres into the air to give you a bird's-eye view …

29 Jul 2015 • Lottie Gross videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right