22 December 2012

Lipa’s Museo ng Katipunan

There is this little-known gem of a museum on the outskirts of Lipa that I would never have discovered were it not for the magic of the Internet. When I say little-known, I mean exactly that. I have lived in Lipa all my life; and the museum is no more than four or five kilometres from where I live. It has been in existence since the fifties – I was told – but I did not hear about it until I stumbled upon it yesterday while Googling for Batangas-related materials.

The name of the tiny museum is Museo ng Katipunan. It is located in this rural little village west of the city of Lipa called Bulaklakan. The museum itself is not difficult to find – and there are always village folks along the narrow road to ask directions from.

It is the village of Bulaklakan which may be a little difficult to find for somebody not from these parts. At any rate, the tricycle drivers at the corner of the road leading to Pinagtung-Ulan ought to be helpful.

The museum is privately-owned from what I could surmise from the cordial guides who were more than happy to host a couple of walk-in visitors and answer whatever questions a friend and I were prepared to ask.

The centrepiece item is an authentic blood-stained Katipunan flag that holds pride of place in the centre of a small hallway that doubles as the museum proper. The flag is sewn over in places where it was torn during battle; and on its faded red cloth the blood of heroes has been immortalised.

I felt goose bumps just standing before it, such was the honour and privilege of being so close to something that bore witness to the very revolution that gave birth to this country. It made the short trip well worth the bother.

The flag, as far as I could discern from what I was being told by one of the keepers, was held by no less than Andres Bonifacio himself as he and his fellow revolutionaries tried to liberate this country from the bondage of colonisation.

How it ended up in Lipa is something that I did not quite catch completely as I was torn between visually absorbing the items on display and half-listening to the stories that our guide was telling us.

There also hangs on the wall a salakot similar to that worn by Bonifacio in many of the iconic illustrations of the national hero that adorn history books. There are also a couple of nineteenth century rifles along with guloks that the Katipuneros used to ambush the Guardia Civil.

There is also this rusty and small nineteenth century typewriter that I was told Bonifacio himself might have used.

The collection is quite small but significant; probably not worth travelling all the way from outside Batangas to visit but definitely worth seeing if one lives somewhere close by or is passing through the community.

The place is well-kept although small; but what I fear is that one day the historical treasures in the small museum will be worn away by none other but time itself. Some of the pictures on display, for instance, are already badly faded.

The place, from what I understood, is run by members of a religious sect and relies on donations for its upkeep. Thankfully, students of history – mostly from UPLB, we were told – arrive mostly during the summer and from their donations the keepers of the museum are able to keep the place in great condition.

Those who wish to arrange visits may call 0923-280-8171 and ask for a Mat Lunar, the museum’s administrator. This number is from a brochure that is given away for free to visitors and I am posting it for those whose curiosity may be stimulated by this article.

The museum is open Friday-Sunday from 9:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon.

The contact e-mails are mat_lunar@yahoo.com and museo_katipunan@yahoo.com. There is also a published web site at museongkatipunan.ning.com; although I tried it yesterday and could not reach it.

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