I’ve been going to San Agustin Church within the historic and cobblestone streets of Intramuros, Manila since my wonder years. My parents used to take me and my siblings to 30 churches every Holy Week back then, and their list included San Agustin Church. But it took more than 30 years before I set foot in its museum.
One sunny afternoon, I had an urge to revisit Quiapo and headed to Intramuros with the intent to experience San Agustin Museum. It was my first time to see the church with its old peach paint removed. I wasted no time and asked one of the bystanders of the museum’s location, and to my surprise, the entrance was just a few steps from the right side of the main church door. I know no reason why my parents didn’t bring us inside San Agustin Museum; I haven’t inquired but it’s no longer important for the time already came for me to discover and explore the museum myself.
With only PhP 100 current admission rate for adult (PhP 80 for senior citizens, and almost half the cost for students with IDs), every centavo was worth it!
I don’t know about you but I know some people don’t entertain the idea of going to museum. Perhaps, they’re not fascinated with history, heritage, arts and things of the past, or totally not interested with some places without life. Unlike them, I am easily drawn to anything significant; or anything of my interest. Probably, it’s really to each his own.
Immediately after the admission counter and the turnstile, a huge lifeless bell greeted me. It was simply labeled with a laminated paper that states, “A 3,400 kilogram bell, taken down in 1927 from the belfry of the San Agustin Church damaged by the earthquake of 1863.”
I was warned that photography without flash is only permitted at the hallways and not inside exhibit rooms. Good enough! I obliged of course.
Every step I took seemed a stroll back in time. Isn’t that amazing? (surprising? exciting? hehehe!)
The concrete staircase and its ceiling, en route to the second level almost took my breath away! I literally uttered, “Wow!” several times and left me in awe for few minutes. It was like setting foot inside a century-old dungeon or a castle, or felt like I was ascending the steps of Hogwarts with Professor Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape about to greet me with magical spells! Very theatrical and cinematic!
From the scale model of San Agustin Church, to small brass replica of galleon ships, paintings, priest vestments and whatnot, to the restricted noise of young students who were having an educational field trip with their teacher, I took everything in as a visual feast! Every corner appeared picturesque to me!
But the highlight of my visit to San Agustin Museum was admiring the choir chamber and the church’s ceiling to my heart’s delight! I found logical reason for my one hundred Philippine pesos entrance fee for I have not seen the ceiling’s painting this up close! Wow! Wow! Wow!
The intricate carvings on the solid choir seats was beyond wonderful! Imagine, these were done creatively decades ago!
Behold. The ceiling of San Agustin Church done in trompe l’oeil.
A quick glance at Wiki, trompe l’oeil (French for deceive the eye) defined as “an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that depicted objects exist in three dimensions.”
Beautiful, isn’t it?
I just hope and pray that proper restoration shall be done to those dilapidated areas.
Other than my appreciation for the ceiling, the pipe organ also a caught my eyes and my lens.
From the choir loft, I completely understand why San Agustin Church remains to be a favorite venue of Sacrament of Matrimony.
Of all the paintings inside the exhibit halls and corridors, I figured out my favorite. It’s called, The Family of the Virgin Mary, 234.3 cm x 173.3cm (92″ x 68″), Oil on Canvass, tagged as 19th century, Araneta collection.
More must-see-display on the ground floor…
My two hours inside the San Agustin Museum may not be as entertaining as watching a blockbuster comedy, love story, action or fantasy films, but my appreciation of my heritage, religion, timeless treasures of my country was heightened tremendously.
“In 1993, San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines. It was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976.” ~wiki.
San Agustin Church & San Agustin Museum | General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila | website : http://www.sanagustinchurch.org/