It might be out of the way, and painfully in the middle of the corporate hustle and bustle of Makati, but Rizalizing the Future was a good enough reason to leave anti-corporatism in the car and step into the Yuchengco Museum.
The hook, and one of the more powerful things in this exhibit, is the inclusion of Team Manila’s contemporary renderings on wood of Jose Rizal in shades (and later on their other Pepe products), in colors too vivid you forget he’s national hero. In “Rizal in Shades” one can only thank the heavens for Team Manila’s reconfiguration of history into interesting and viable images that comes from a stable and consistent sense of popular nationalism. Let me forget, of course, that I have yet to be able to afford one of their products.
Truth to tell, in the context of the museum, this was a feat in itself; in the context of the exhibit it would be the portent of the diversity that’s here, only united by notions of Rizal. Contradictions are welcome! Hear! Hear! Your telling of this story is as good as mine!
As it turns out, this works infinitely well with the Rizal heirs’ exhibition of things / correspondence / lives equated with our national hero. At first glance the collection seems too trivial for comfort, but in reality, it is more inspiring than we’d like to admit. Art as inspiration to do better in our lives seems cliché, never mind that it has as market the younger students among us, yet there is an amount of greatness in Rizal that’s difficult to ignore, or not be inspired by, the jaded among us notwithstanding.
At the very least, you must get goose bumps looking at the pencil sketches of portraits Rizal did himself.