Philippines’ Golden Opportunity for Revisited History Presented in Asia Society New York Exhibit

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NEW YORK - New York and the whole world will see the Philippines in a glimmering light, thanks to the new exhibition, Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms at the Asia Society in Manhattan from 11 September 2015 to 3 January 2016.

 

The collection, consisting of about 120 pieces of gold ornaments, ceremonial masks, weapons, worship icons and fashion accessories were from the 10th to the 13th century, unearthed only during the past forty years on the Philippine islands of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. The gold artifacts attest to the recently discovered evidence of prosperity and achievement of Philippine polities that flourished long before the Spanish discovered and colonized the region.

Majority of the gold pieces are on loan from the Ayala Museum, with the Central Bank of the Philippines and private collector Architect Leandro Locsin lending more from their collections to complete the exhibition. Sharing their expertise to the exhibit were Ayala Museum Consulting Curator Nina Capistrano Baker and Asia Society Senior Curator for Asian Art Adriana Proser.

On the opening gala on 10 September, more than 200 distinguished guests came to the Asia Society New York to formally launch the cultural spotlight on the Philippines. The glamorous evening featured a ceremonial ribbon cutting, speeches from dignitaries, musical performances, a live auction, and a gourmet Filipino dinner to a kick off the four-month season of programming at Asia Society that will highlight the richness and diversity of Philippine culture and current affairs, and explore its cuisine, performing arts, film, design, literature, and more. 

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. noted the exhibition is a “great reason to be proud of our ancestors and our heritage ... Taking a look around and marveling at the artifacts on display this evening will make one realize what commonalities our Filipino ancestors shared with our other Indonesian, Indian, Chinese and other Southeast Asian brethren."

Gala Benefit Committee Co-Chair Doris Magsaysay Ho thanked her Co-Chairs Loida Nicolas Lewis and Fernando Zobel de Ayala. “We thought how wonderful it would be to bring a spotlight on the Philippines as the [country] hosts APEC [in November]. And we thought, why not also highlight our heritage, and our arts and culture?"

The evening also marked the opening of Video Spotlight: Philippines, an exhibition of contemporary Filipino video art, and Filipino Design Now, an installation celebrating the artistic visions of renowned and emerging Filipino designers. Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms will be on display through January 3, 2016.

"Tonight, we are celebrating a new era, a new beginning for the Philippines, presented through its golden past,” said Asia Society President Josette Sheeran. “This is truly a great day for the Philippines, for the Unites States, and for all who care about our shared histories." 

The following day on September 11, Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. spoke in front of more than 200 guests of the Benefit Committee during the Premiere Night Celebration and highlighted three realizations that would come to visitors after viewing the collection. One, that Filipinos had an advanced civilization even before the colonizers came. Two, Filipinos descended from royalty; the gold items being remnants of Forgotten Kingdoms of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. And third, that the Philippines have had active trade and cultural relations with our neighbors in Southeast Asia since this time evidenced in the design influence of the gold items and materials used in their everyday clothing.

The exhibit was honored by leaders, supporters and friends of the Filipino community the following day on September 12 during the Opera Night Reception. Consul General underscored the efforts of the whole Filipino community in promoting the exhibit, and contributing their talents to uplift the image of the Philippines through our dance, music, design and visual art, cuisine and film that will be showcase in the parallel events that will run throughout the Philippine Gold season.

The centerpiece of the evening was a special performance of Langhapin, Lasapin, Namnamin … Pag-Ibig (Breathe, Taste, Savor … Love). The special presentation explored love in its many aspects through Philippine songs of various genres performed by outstanding Filipino and American classical singers and musicians, offering a glimpse of Philippines musical identity and heritage.

Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms will run until 3 January 2016. For cultural events related to the exhibit, please visit http://asiasociety.org/new-york/events/upcoming.