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Pre-colonial 'Surigao Treasure' reunited after 40 years in Ayala Museum |

Arts and Culture

Pre-colonial 'Surigao Treasure' reunited after 40 years in Ayala Museum

Kristofer Purnell -
Pre-colonial 'Surigao Treasure' reunited after 40 years in Ayala Museum
Some of the gold items the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is loaning to the Ayala Museum for the 'Reuniting the Surigao Treasure' exhibit, on view until 2027. / Kristofer Purnell

MANILA, Philippines — The "Gold of Ancestors" exhibit in the Ayala Museum is getting a temporary expansion after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) loaned 38 pre-colonial goldworks for a "new" exhibit.

Almost 1,000 items are already on permanent display at the museum since 2008, but the BSP's loan is significant as these gold items can also be traced back to the Surigao Treasure.

Back in 1981, heavy machinery operator Berto Morales came across golden objects in Sitio Magroyong in Surigao del Sur, leading to a sudden gold rush.

A huge chunk of the discovered items eventually made its way to the Ayala Museum thanks to collectors Leandro and Cecilia Locsin, the former a National Artist for Architecture, while others ended up with the BSP — if not melted for profit.

The "Reuniting the Surigao Treasure" exhibit is the first time the Surigao Treasure are all together in the Philippines.

The "new" exhibit is much larger than the joint exhibit in 2015 in New York City's Asia Society Museum co-curated by Drs. Adriana Proser and Florina Capistrano-Baker, the latter is the curator for the Ayala Museum's exhibit.

Related: Louvre says Mona Lisa could get a room of her own

Bringing together the Surigao Treasure will give Filipinos a "fuller" story about the country's pre-colonial history, such as artistic traditions and practices, as well as the social hierarchies before the arrival of the Spaniards.

The exhibit brings together a four-kilogram chain (Ayala Museum) reuniting with its pronged finial (BSP), woven waistbands with seven belts (BSP) meeting partial and complete sashes and buckles (Ayala Museum), and a balance scale (Ayala Museum) paired with a scale pan (BSP).

Other items the BSP is loaning to the museum include a 4.5-meter kamagi chain consisting of 12 connected necklaces, bangles with semi-precious stones, necklaces with suso beads, and more finials.

The "Reuniting the Surigao Treasure" exhibit, which will run until 2027, coincidentally begins with the 50th or golden anniversary of the Ayala Museum.

On May 19, two days after the exhibit opens to the public, the exhibit will be free for viewing as part of the museum's International Museum Day commemoration.

RELATED: Bicol students read works of National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera, Levi Celerio

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