The Making of the NOTRE DAME
OF TACURONG COLLEGE MUSEUM
By Felizardo “DING” L, LAZADO
ANYONE who chooses to see something – a thing of the past that has something to say about the present and future, then, he is one rare kind of person of social interest. A family that still keeps the belongings and holdings of its great ancestors and never attempt to let them go in any way is a house built on the rocks of perpetual heritage. If you believe that that there are no useless things here on Earth and everything is useful , then, in this world of ours there is nothing to throw away except feces, urine, domestic wastes and other biodegradables.
I FOUND myself in the shadow of this aweful but awesome and amazing world of saving legacies. And if you go with me, I am sure you got a good guess of what I am talking about. This is concernment in museology. It is not all about curating antiques, artifacts and artworks as many would have viewed it that way. Museology is an interesting field of anything collected anytime for use all the time. As long as an object indicates a story to tell and significance to show, it deserves a space in the museum or better still it deserved to be spared. But museum is not always a big building ornately structured and designed. It can just be a corner, a room in the house, or a house itself if it dearly holds rare, unique and even a run-of-the mill – pieces of collections.
The house of a friend, Bot Villalobos is one of this kind, a unit in a subdivision somewhere in Cavite , Artifacts carefully shelved along the walls were aesthetically scaled. A side table drawer was almost full of wristwatches of all kinds. The cupboard beneath the stove was a caveful of multi-sized earthen jars (kolon) , one of which contained cooked ” tambalang nga dagmay” which he served to me. The most unique was the ” inupong nga humay” displayed on a coffee table in the living room. That small bundle or sheaf of palay was given by a farmer friend from Ifugao’s rice terraces for good luck and prosperity.
And, museum is not all Picasso, da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Fall of Rome, Alexandria and Granada, hegira, or ruins of Parthenon. I was able to obtain a few pieces of rocks from the debris of Berlin Wall from my lady professor at Silliman University. Allegedly, she had them picked up onsite when the Berlin Walls was knocked down. She was there while pursuing a doctoral degree on anthropology
The Notre Dame of Tacurong College ) NDTC Museum was put up without a hint and dint of the above. There was no aforethought of museology. This museum which is now called NDTC Tri-people Musuem was an offshoot of my sheer foolish imagination which later in educational forum I called “teaching strategy”…or was it? The Jesuit evaluator during our PAASCU accreditation evaluation confirmed to me during an interview that what I did was not a teaching strategy.,,”If ever you consider it a strategy that is something inimical to teaching”. We both laughed. ” But your strategy has paid up for your efforts, you have this one great museum in this part of Mindanao” the Jesuit concluded with a grain of consolation.
” Bring to the class ANYTHING FILIPINO, ANYTHING OLD” (AFAO) . Simple was that instruction but definitive and conclusive for compliance among my students in History 1 (Philippine History) and Humanities 1 (Art Appreciation) for them to earn a perfect 10 points for P (project) in AQRP , equivalent to a 40 % component of the final grade in any subject taken. That began in 1995, the year I was busy for the Talakudong Festival revival.
One male fruit vendor/ student from Isulan ( who would drive his tricycle from Isulan early morning for his classes and back home at noontime this time, fully laden with assorted fruits bargained from his “suki” (favourite wholesaler) at Tacurong Public Market), proudly unwrapped before me a small object. ” Sir, ari special AFAO gid ning akon (here sir, is my special AFAO) . The whole class laughed when he further said, “onto ni sang lolo ko nga ginkuha ni lola sang napatay siya. Kanugon kuno sang onto kay mahal pa naman ini”. (It is the false denture of my grandfather who died, and which was kept by my grandmother, as she thought it to be expensive, to be just thrown away.) I told him, “Take it back home with you, as that might scare other collections. Your lola needs your lolo’s false teeth than any other”. I motioned to him to take back the controversial item. “Ti ang grade ko sir? “. (“how about my grade sir?”). “Sigi perfect 10 kana” (“don’t worry, you will get perfect 10”).
Running it from 1995 to 1998. the AFAO project has become a byword among my students. One time I caught one guy shouting : “Ay ABAW”, (oh, my!) referring to AFAO. Submitted projects became an array of collectibles and collections. Trending in campus, AFAO has even made some teachers feverish too, thus dozens more of personal items were turned in that swelled up the room. Worthy of mention were 3 pairs of old patadyong (native Visayan tube skirt with geometrical pattern), and kimono (sheer blouse made of piἧa fibers with butterfly sleeves), and 3 pieces of “sinukla” from Mrs. Josefina Lechonsito’s late mother. Ricardo Jamorabon Jr, gave his personal baby’s crib. Rev. Antonio Pueyo while he was still a Parish Priest in Cotabato City sent in a big bronze crucifix and elegant rosary beads which he said was once owned by a Catholic lady but turned them to him when she married General Salipada K. Pendatun. Five big boxes were left to the museum by Bishop Colin Bagaforo when he moved to Cotabato City to assume his new post as Auxiliary Bishop of Cotabato. Most of the artifacts were “santos” (holy images). “rosaritos” (rosary beads), as well as, other sacramental and clerical habits. The Bishop’s collections occupied one room of the ground floor and labeled “ecclesiastical collection”. Opposite room was assigned to several Muslim brasswares including kulintang (brass xylophone) and “agong” from the former Sultan Kudarat governor Pax Mangudadatu.
Verbally but encouragingly, Sr. Leonor Pagorogon, OP, Phd. then the College President instructed me to put up exhibits on June 12, 1998 in connection with the CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE PHILLIPINE REVOLUTION. So came the unprecedented preparation. Presentable and exhibitable and truly expressive of anything Filipino, anything old were all moved to the exhibit area – the college lobby. To make the exhibit validly significant and reflective of the centennial celebration, the miniatures of the evolution of the Philippine flag and framed pictures of the early revolutionists including Bonifacio and Aguinaldo formed part of the rush works. My sons. Glenn and Ron and one working student put the final touches on the eve of Exhibits Day.
The opening came the morning after but since it was a national holiday, the influx of visitors from other towns, especially, students was observable on the second day. The exhibit was run for two straight weeks with MOVERS (Museum Organization of Volunteers, Errands of Responsible Students) on the watch line. The MOVERS was organized at the height of the preparation. When the exhibit ended, the MOVERS themselves moved all the items to the Sullivan Hall – a two- story building that in itself was also “antique”. The moving signalled the birth of the museum.
The two-story Sullivan Hall, was without the necessary facilities to be called a museum. Here came my big problem. If I had to resort to requisition, I was sure I would only be told “no budget “..that I didn’t like to hear. I put all the responsibilities upon me as I silently shout…COME WHAT MAY I WOULD BUILD THE MUSEUM MY WAY ! I told nobody as nobody has ever told me to stay in the museum in the evening.
At day time during my vacant periods I roamed around the campus – spotting anything useful and loadable – in the garbage area, carpentry shop, stock room beside the gymnasium. Late sundown after supper to the museum I went my way to spend the night.. Like a nocturnal owl and a thief in the night I focused my attention on my “operation”. Sensing that silence now reign the evening hours, like a cat I stealthily moved around …pulled and dragged whatever item I could move inside the museum. Flashing lights indicated that a security was on the roving time. I had to look for cover to elude the Blue Guard. Then on weekends – Saturdays and Sundays I did carpentry works. I picked up pieces of assorted nails at carpentry when there was no carpenter visible. I bought a hammer and a saw so that nobody at home would ever wonder where have all the saw and hammer gone ifever needed.
On June 30,1998, the NDTC MUSEUM was given official recognition, as Sr. Leonor Pagorogon OP, PhD. signed my appointment as First Curator and a certificate was issued recognizing me as Founder of the NDTC MUSEUM. A respite from museum-related activities came when I accompanied the Talakudong contingent to Davao City to join the Kadayawan Festiva in mid-August of the same year.
My exit from the museum which was brought about by my retirement in 2008 saw the entrance of equally energetic Dr. Edgar Gonzales who took over as the new curator. Under his administration, the museum made three good projects: 1) The ground floor was fully renovated with modern facilities; 2) A decent fund was obtained from the NCAA for the procurement of other facilities and training; and, 3) The museum was renamed NDTC TRI-PEOPLE MUSEUM.
For over a decade of curatorial work, 13 years to be exact, museology has taught me more meanings of life and more learning from love of USEFUL AND USELESS THINGS. In my retirement speech, I humbly mentioned the time when I was a nocturnal owl, a thief in the night, a stealthily moving cat, a scavenger, a carpenter, an AFAO strategist, not a teaching strategist, inventor of the new 3 Rs – Remake, Retake, Reshape…I DID ALL THAT for my contributions to the meaningful NDTC Vision Mission and my commitment to the promotion of cultural heritage.I would like to thank all my students/alumni and fellow teachers who in one way or the other have helped me build the NDTC MUSEUM.