Ilonggo Bucket List: Museo Iloilo

By spencer ravago

I was born and raised here in Iloilo City. Despite this though, I often have this feeling that I haven’t truly had the full Ilonggo experience. Having stayed in Manila for a few years, I often had the misconception that my hometown was boring. I always thought there was nothing much to do in the City of Love.

Boy, was I wrong.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of things to do here in Iloilo that I have overlooked. Oftentimes, tourists seem to know more things to do than us locals that it’s a bit embarrassing. And I do not think I’m alone in this boat. I believe there are still a number of Ilonggos who have yet to experience most of what this fair city has to offer. With the city coming into another renaissance of sorts, the list seems to be growing longer and longer. This also happens to be one of the main motivations for us starting Project Iloilo.

Ilonggo Bucket List: Museo Iloilo - Project Iloilo

With this in mind, I am aiming to scratch off items on what I’m dubbing as my ‘Ilonggo Bucket List’ where I attempt to do as many “Ilonggo” things as I can—one article at a time, of course.

For the first item on the list, I try to visit a place that I’ve been meaning to for years now: our very own Museo Iloilo. You’d think I’d have already visited the place by now, especially as a student. But that hasn’t been the case. The closest I’ve gone before to this was having assembled outside of its premises for a school parade. Having no other reason to pay a visit (and because only school requirements could get my butt to go to museums), I mostly forgot about the place. Heck, I’ve been to museums in Manila more than I’ve been to ours.

Ilonggo Bucket List: Museo Iloilo - Project Iloilo

I was determined to change that, and change that I did. I just wished the experience wasn’t as underwhelming as it was.

I went to Museo Iloilo on a Saturday afternoon with our Editor-by-Default Joseph agreeing to accompany me. On the way there, he already tried to dampen my already-low expectations. And I still ended up disappointed.

We arrived at the museum at a little past four in the afternoon. There were a couple of art exhibits right near the entrance. One had a Pope Francis theme and the other a Dinagyang one. Both were a couple of months old. These took about a third of the entire museum area. No, the exhibits didn’t take up a lot of space. The museum was just that small.

The rest of the museum had historical pieces on display from the pre-colonial era as well as the Spanish, American and Japanese colonial eras. I’m not much of a history aficionado but I did find them interesting. One display in particular that piqued my interest was the bundles of Japanese era “Mickey Mouse” currency.

Ilonggo Bucket List: Museo Iloilo - Project Iloilo

I tried to get my money’s worth (entrance is only fifty pesos per head but, hey, it’s still fifty bucks) by taking my time looking at the displays and reading some of the accompanying writeups. I think we still ended up leaving after thirty minutes due to how small the place was.

I was left asking for more. The size/amount of historical displays seems to be lacking. It does not give enough justice to the rich culture of Iloilo. Sure, I’m no expert on the subject and I know that most of us get our information off the internet nowadays but I think Museo Iloilo is a tool that could be better utilized in showing the rich Ilonggo heritage. I don’t know if it’s just not as big a priority or if it’s a budget issue (heck, I might just have went on the wrong day) but Museo Iloilo could offer more to the city than just being a navigational landmark and filler piece for tourism videos.

With that, I end the first entry to a (hopefully) regular series to Project Iloilo. It’s not exactly as great a start as I was going for but I still hope it inspires some of you to start exploring the city a little more and experience what it has to offer. If you have your own Museo Iloilo experience or if you have any suggestions for my next Ilonggo Bucket List “adventure”, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section below.

Spencer Ravago is the creative director for Project Iloilo.