Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Philippine Army Museum and Library gets a facelift, welcomes hordes of visitors

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City----The Philippine Army Museum and Library (PAML) will be opened to the public after the series of improvements  made  in  time for the Philippine Army (PA) anniversary, a military official said.

Major Harold Cabunoc, the Army Spokesperson, said that there will be a weeklong free entrance to the facility as part of the Army’s gesture to bring itself closer to people.

“We would like to invite the public to take a look at our Army history since the time of our brave Katipuneros until the present day. This is also part of our anniversary activities, leading to the 115th year founding anniversary on March 22,” said Cabunoc.

Brief history

The PAML has hosted the bountiful heritage of the Army since its inauguration on July 26, 1979 graced by no less than the Commanding General of the PA, Major General Fortunato U Abat.

The original edifice was built in 1906 at the Fort William McKinley which is now known as MacArthur Avenue in Fort Bonifacio. It used to be the headquarters of the Philippine Division, Philippine Department, United States Army.

Surviving World War II, it cradled the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) from 1950-1955 and later, it was used as the office of the RP-US Mutual Defense Board.

“In the advent of the Bases Conversion Plan that took effect in 1977, the historical building had to be demolished,” said Museum Director Richard Wilhelm B. Ragodon.

He added that some of the wood beams in the original structure were re-used in the reconstruction of the present PA museum.

He also said that there is a tunnel underneath the former building which runs along the entire 32nd St. of The Fort with lateral passages through various points in the area. This tunnel was built by the Americans and served as Japanese soldier’s hiding place during the Liberation of Manila.

“Today, however, the tunnel is only a memory. Since the conversion of the fort, the tunnel was permanently closed to the public,” he said.

A stroll into the galleries

Upon entrance to the present museum, visitors are welcomed with the polymer resin relief depicting the Army history from 1896 to present. The ground exhibits feature various weaponry (artillery and tanks) that were used by the Army in its campaign against insurgents.

An original ancient Spanish cannon is lying mutely on display, screaming historical eccentricity.

Further inside of the museum are the Uniforms and Weapons Gallery, Interactive Area and the Hall of 
Heroes, each a quintessence of Philippine military valor and vehemence.

There also exists the Changing Exhibit which presently displays the Army campaign against the various threats, including the reconstruction of war-ravaged communities. The photos consist of rebel atrocities, soldiers’ heroism and peace and development programs of the Army in the war-torn areas.

Going to the upper galleries, one will find the display of Colors (Army Flags) just before the flight of stairs to the second level. The ante-room holds a timeline picturing prominent persons and events in Army history.

A creatively designed audio-visual room simulating tactical operations center or field command post, is also located in the second floor. This leads to five tableaux (life-size diorama) which seemingly bring the audience on a time travel featuring soldiers' struggles in protecting our country's sovereignty.

Finally, a maze-like hall displays post-war Army campaigns for freedom and national security on its walls.

You can also buy memorabilia like t-shirts, mugs, key chains and books that you can give to your friends and loved ones while you share the Army’s rich history.

PAML Open house

In celebration of the PA’s 115th founding anniversary, the PAML will be open to public on March 14-22, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays and upon request, during weekends. During this time, entrance is for free.

To accommodate more visitors from the different post units and outside PA, the museum shall also be open even during lunch breaks. On a regular day, anyone can visit the museum for only twenty pesos (Php 20.00).

How to get there

There are two gates leading to the museum. If you are riding a taxi, on a personal vehicle, or riding a bus on a guided tour, you must pass through Gate 6 along Bayani Road. You must show proper identification and driver’s license to the Military Police (MP) on post. If you have a DECAL or a vehicle pass, you can enter at Gate 2 along Lawton Avenue.

Should you wish to visit on a personal fancy and taking a public vehicle, you can disembark at the corner of Mc Kinley Hill road  and enter the camp  through Gate 1. You must bring a valid ID which will be required by the  military personnel on duty.

For additional  inquiries about the PA Museum, interested individuals may contact Mr. Richard Ragodon at (02) 845-9555 loc. 6120.

The week-long open house provides a venue toward greater public awareness on Army’s noble legacy, history and role as partner of the government and the community in nation building.

“We are currently taking actions to restore deteriorating relics and we plan to acquire new relics like military vehicles and memorabilia of retired officers and enlisted men who have stamped their names in history,” Ragodon said.

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