Philippines // Manila //

Ayala Museum

Makati’s one real attraction is the Ayala Museum (02/757-7117, on Makati Avenue at De La Rosa Street (10min walk from Ayala MRT), by far the best place in the Philippines to get to grips with the nation’s complex history. The mighty Ayala family donated much of the initial collection in 1967, and this modern building was completed in 2004. There are no dreary exhibits here, or ponderous chronological approach – the permanent exhibitions just highlight the key aspects of Philippine history beginning on the fourth floor with an extraordinary collection of pre-Hispanic goldware, created by the islands’ often overlooked indigenous cultures between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. Over one thousand gold objects are on display, much of it from the Butuan area in Mindanao, including the “Surigao Treasure”. Don’t miss the astonishing gold regalia, a huge 4kg chain of pure gold thought to have been worn by a datu (chief). Other displays emphasize pre-Hispanic trade links with Asia, especially Song dynasty China, with a huge collection of porcelain and ceramics. On the third floor the “Pioneers of Philippine Art” showcases the museum’s particularly strong collections of Juan Luna Realism, Fernando Amorsolo Impressionism and Fernando Zobel’s more abstract work. On the second floor an extensive display of sixty dioramas dramatizes all the key events in Philippine history from prehistory to independence, while three audiovisual presentations tackle the postwar period, the Marcos years and People Power in 1986.

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