Aquino Museum in Tarlac up for redesign

Aquino Museum in Tarlac up for redesign
By Walter Ang
November 22, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Architects, interior designers, conservators, and curators are invited to join "Reawakening Democracy: Aquino Museum Redesign Competition," a contest that aims to find the best design solution for the museum that will capture the impact of Benigno "Ninoy" and Corazon "Cory" Aquino on Philippine history.

The Aquino Musuem is housed in the Aquino Center located in Tarlac. It features the Aquino family's memorabilia and a chronological depiction of how the couple "re-awakened and regained the democracy that the Philippines lost during the martial law regime:" the assassination of Senator Ninoy Aquino in 1983 that led to the emergence of the People Power revolution in 1986 and the presidency of Cory Aquino.

Architect and University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture professor Dan Lichauco, nephew of Mrs. Aquino, developed the design concepts for the center in 2001. The Aquino Center was originally intended to be predominantly a museum but eventually included convention facilities that are rented out to generate income for the center's maintenance and upkeep.

"The center is nine years old, although ageing gracefully since it is well maintained, it's beginning to show its age," he said. "It's also become evident that spaces originally intended to be used as offices are under-utilized. The exhibit is no longer current in chronicling the lives of both Ninoy and Cory and how they continue to influence us as a nation and race."

"The Design Completion is intended to change this," he said. "In addition to the competition, we are also hoping to establish a curatorial team that will guide the museum in the future."

The competition will be an opportunity to develop a more comprehensive coverage of the life and legacy of the late President Aquino beyond her six-year term; and to re-package the entire museum exhibition to appeal to and resonate among visitors.

The competition requires participants to submit a "creative and cost-efficient design scheme that should deliver a coherent and compelling museum-going experience, including all aspects of exhibition design, content selection, installation scheme, atmospherics and path narrative."

The competition is organized by Lafarge Cement Services Philippines with the endorsement of and for the benefit of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF), which runs the Aquino Center.

The foundation was formerly known as Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Foundation. Mrs. Aquino worked through the foundation to engage non-governmental organizations and supported programs to strengthen cooperatives, human rights education among law enforcers, and microfinance institutions.

In 2008, the foundation launched the "iamninoy" campaign to make the former senator's values resonant among the youth. The foundation's name was changed last year after former President Aquino passed away.

"For the past many years, Republic Cement Corporation and Iligan Cement Corporation, both Lafarge companies, have made it a commitment to support landmarks of our Filipino identity," said Lafarge vice president of communications Cirilo M. PestaƱo II.

"As we launch the redevelopment of the Aquino Museum, we continue our support for the preservation of the memories of two Filipino icons of democracy that have shaped Philippine history. We are extremely proud and deeply honored to take the lead in this project and keep their legacy alive for future generations."

Shared exhibit
Three finalists will be given funding to further develop their designs. The winning team will be awarded a design contract to implement its proposal.

The competition's board of judges is composed of NCAF chair Maria Elena Aquino-Cruz, NCAF trustee Dan Lichauco, Lafarge Cement Services Philippines chair Rene Sunico, Ateneo professor Ricky Abad, film director Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Cultural Center of the Philippines chair Emily Abrera, former Metropolitan Musuem director Ino Manalo, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, and Ayala Foundation executive vice president and chief operating officer Guillermo Luz.

As the Aquino Center redesigns its galleries, the Ayala Musuem will host a year-round series of exhibits of selected items from the Aquino Musuem.

"We are pleased to make these exhibits more accessible to the public," said Ayala Foundation chair Jaime Zobel de Ayala. "It is our hope that by viewing these exhibits, we will all learn to be proud to be Filipinos and to continue to collectively work hard to bring more benefits to more people."

Ma. Elena "Ballsy" Aquino-Cruz, eldest daughter of the Aquinos, thanked the organizers of the redesign competition and said, "Dad, the glib master politician, realized his true mission in the loneliness of a prison cell and emerged a far better and stronger human being. Mom, the self-effacing housewife, was thrust into a position of leadership that she could not spurn and emerged a source of inspiration for millions. Together, as destiny would have it, they changed the face of our nation.

"The museum's narrative comprehensively covers the colorful life of Ninoy Aquino. When Mom passed on last year, the tremendous outpouring of affection and respect for her made it clear that she had accomplished far more than just continuing Dad's unfinished work. She had earned her place in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

"It is only fitting, therefore, that the Aquino Center be re-designed and updated to reflect, as well, what it is about the person, life and legacy of Cory Aquino that inspires and animates so many. It is the interweaving of these two narratives that I hope the redesigned Museum would capture in a manner that would resonate even among those who never got to know Ninoy or Cory Aquino. We in the family continue to be overwhelmed and grateful for our fellow Filipinos' love for her to this day."

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