A legacy of Ramon del Rosario Jr.
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2018 - 12:00am

The National Museum of the Philippines is actually composed of several museums – the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology,  National Museum of Natural History and the National Planetarium. This government organization also operates branch museums throughout the country and is also the agency tasked with restoring and safeguarding important cultural properties, sites and reservations throughout the Philippines.

Ramon  del Rosario Jr., after seven and a half years, has stepped down as chairman of the board of the National Museum. Some of us are fortunate if we can leave to this world some intangible legacy such as a good name or accomplishments that will benefit future generations. Ramon is very fortunate because he has left a very visible and very tangible legacy. Anyone visiting the National Museum complex located near Luneta will realize that this complex are not just buildings: but are the major repositories of Philippine art, history and culture that can be proudly displayed to the world. While many people were involved into transforming these buildings into world class museums, it was the leadership of its chairman that made all these accomplishments possible within a short period of seven and a half years.

In a letter, Board member Felice Sta. Maria gave a graphic overview of the work Ramon has done. Here is the letter:

“Congratulations on steering the National Museum system into new waters. The Natural History Museum is the high impact legacy of your second watch. The Gallery of Arts in a well restored grand dame of a building also falls within your term. So does the jump in attendance  after entrance fees were waived: the long lines of mixed public  such a joy to see. ( I hope the educational role of the Museum and transforming one branch into a developmental model can be tackled next.)

But there are valuable intangibles you leave for the next admiral, too. Most important is the new plantilla with line positions in tune with the true functions of a major public institution. The director and assistant director can now design in-house HR training and strategies to visit universities and explain career potentials at the Museum. You have opened up significant jobs for cultural workers, museologists in particular. Training grants from foreign governments prioritize RP civil servants so that is a perk new hires can aim for. 

Good housekeeping was tackled, thankfully. It will really help the institution’s future. You have truly prepared the National Museum to chart new waters. Your clear focus, strong links with funders, and executive expertise made all the gains possible. It was a privilege to contribute what I could. May the new voyages honor your efforts by sustaining them and adding to them. With best personal regards.”

As the letter states, the other museums were started before Ramon’s term; but, they were vastly improved during his tenure. However, the museum of Natural History was opened only last May 18, the International Museum Day. This museum houses taxidermied specimens of interesting creatures such as Lolong, the largest crocodile in captivity and the Spot bellied pelican (Pelicanus Philippinensis) which was discovered in the Philippines but became extinct in the 1960s.

There are also botanical illustrations and paintings, paintings of Philippine orchids; a recreation of a mini mangrove forest and beach including wildlife; diorama showing how turtles hatch their eggs; and a gallery that focuses on Philippine marine life. There is also a huge globe that shows snapshots of the biosphere and how much climate change affects the environment. 

There are many types of museums including art museums, natural history museums, science museums, war museums, and children’s museums. The usual purpose of any type of museum is to collect, preserve, interpret and display items of artistic, cultural, or scientific for the education of the public. The higher purpose of museums is that they are storehouses of knowledge. They also illustrate and reflect a nation’s history and culture. This is one reason that great museums have become major tourist attractions. 

To the general public, Ramon del Rosario Jr. is primarily known as one of the country’s business leaders. He is the president and CEO of PHINMA, a major business conglomerate whose businesses include power, housing, construction materials, hotels and universities.  He was conferred the Management Man of the Year Award for 2010 by the Management Association of the Philippines. 

Aside from business, Ramon has been very active in the fields of education, culture and philanthropy. These are the interests he has had since his college days; and, which eventually led him to accepting the position of Board chair of the National Museum. He has been involved in leading positions in several non profit organizations – Caritas, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, De La Salle University, Asian Institute of Management, PBSP, Makati Business Club. 

Ramon studied in De La Salle during his grade school, high school, and college days where he was a member of the college debating team and president of the De La Salle Dramatics Guild. He graduated magna cum laude and was chosen as the Most Outstanding Student of the Philippines. Many years later he became chairman of PETA, the leading repertory theatre in the Philippines. He has led PHINMA into investing in education by acquiring several universities – Southwestern University, University of Iloilo, University of Pangasinan, Araullo University and several other colleges and universities. 

He has received numerous Philippine and international awards; but, there are awards that do not need public citations. Whenever they visit the National Museums, future generations will owe Ramon del Rosario Jr. a debt of gratitude. That will be his legacy. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout this month (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC.  For details and registration,  email writethingsph@gmail.com.

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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