'Missing' mural in National Museum, Araneta says

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2013 05:09 PM | Updated as of Aug 05 2013 07:37 PM

'Missing' mural in National Museum, Araneta says 1Filipino Struggles through History, 1964

MANILA -- A mural made by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco that is reportedly missing is actually in the National Museum, according to former Miss International Gemma Cruz- Araneta.

Araneta, the vice chairperson of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission during the administration of ex-Manila mayor Alfredo S. Lim, chided what she described as attempts at misleading the public into thinking that the mural titled “Filipino Struggle through History” is missing.

Francisco’s mural had been the centerpiece of the Bulwagang Antonio Villegas in Manila City Hall, which fronts the mayor’s office and serves as a venue for special events in the city such as awarding ceremonies and press conferences. It had been on display at the upper portion of the walls since 1963.

“I am amused noong mabalitaan ko,” Araneta said in a statement released on Sunday.

Araneta lamented that had diligent research been done, the present tourism officials who raised questions as to where the mural is would have known that it is now at the National Museum, undergoing restoration.

According to Araneta, last February, a portion of the mural fell off and hung precariously. The Manila Engineering Department discovered water seeping through a portion of the mural resulting from a plumbing problem at the upper floor of the hall.

“Nabaklas ang isang bahagi ng mural ni Carlos Franciso, kaya't ako'y tumawag sa National Museum. Isang national cultural treasure ang mural kaya ang National Museum lamang ang maaaring mag-restore niyan. Ang pagsasaayos ng tanyag na obra ni Carlos Francisco ang isa sa mga ipamamana ni Mayor Alfredo S. Lim sa mga Manileno at sambayanang Filipino,” she stressed.

The statement said a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was entered into by the city government with tourism infrastructure and enterprise zone authority (TIEZA) chief operating officer Mark Lapid in July 2012 for the restoration of the mural. Also present during the MOA signing, apart from Lim and Araneta, were National Museum director Jeremy Barnes, Cultural Properties chief Angel Bautista, art conservation and restoration specialist Louella Revilla, assistant director of National Museum Dr. Ana Marie Labrador, Lydia Casuco and city hall department heads and employees led by secretary to the mayor Atty. Rafaelito Garayblas, it added.

“The MOA also contained details about the P20-million donation from the Department of Tourism which will be used to cover the costs of restoration,” the statement read.

According to Araneta, Lim broached the idea of enlisting the assistance of the TIEZA which takes charge of tourism infrastructures.

“Ang TIEZA din ang nagbayad ng photo mural na ngayon ay nakakabit sa Bulwagang Villegas sa City Hall. Hindi ito tarpaulin; ito'y gawa ng archival non-acid canvas,” she added.

Presently, Araneta said Francisco’s mural is at the National Art Gallery of the National Museum, particularly at the third floor of the Old Senate building near the Manila City Hall.

“Ang pinuno ng mga restorers na ang karamihan ay graduate ng Fine Arts from the University of Santo Tomas, ay si Engr. Orlando Abinion, dating pinuno ng restoration department ng National Museum na ngayon ay nasa TIEZA na. Si assistant director Ana Labrador ng Museum ang project director,” Araneta stressed.

“The ‘paper trail’ being made to appear as ‘missing’ is with the National Museum, TIEZA and the city legal office, which is right within the Manila City Hall. I have photo copies. So, will everybody please relax? Everything is in order. The money is with TIEZA and the mural is safe in the National Museum. I am sure that Botong Francisco, wherever he is, is truly happy that finally, his masterpiece is being restored." she added.