After years of preparation and being stalled by the pandemic, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) recently inaugurated its 14th branch in Dumaguete City which showcases the geology, zoology, botany, archaeology and marine biodiversity of Negros Island which covers Oriental and Occidental Negros provinces.
Housed at the Dumaguete Presidencia or old municipal hall, it also has exhibits on architectural arts and built heritage of Negros Oriental and Siquijor, and a few loaned items from the Silliman University Museum.
The museum is also envisioned to showcase seasonal and thematic displays, as well as art exhibits in the future.
Also unveiled during the inauguration is the marker declaring the edifice as an Important Cultural Property (ICP) of the NMP, a citation earlier received in 2019 because of its exceptional cultural, artistic and historical significance manifested in its blend of Spanish, American, and Filipino architecture.
An ICP entitles historical structures to be granted government funding for its restoration, protection and conservation by the National Museum.
Built in 1937, it was designed by eminent Filipino architect Juan Arellano who also designed the Legislative Building, which is now the National Museum of Fine Arts. Both buildings were designed in a mix of local and Western neoclassical architectural styles prevalent during the American period.
During the inauguration, Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo stressed that Dumaguete’s master plan includes hosting a museum which will be a repository history and heritage of the city and province. He also acknowledged the members of the Dumaguete City Council in 2017 for unanimously giving him the authority to sign the 50-year usufruct agreement with the NMP.
The restoration of the Presidencia and conversion into a museum is in line with Remollo’s vision to make Dumaguete a consummate destination of culture, adventure and sports tourism.