“This is the batil, a sailing vessel that used to navigate our oceans, bringing along goods and merchandise that they would trade with us.”
The tour guide talked with a lilting, almost sing-song accent that people instantly associate with the Hiligaynon language. She had a pleasant face, garbed in a t-shirt and jeans ensemble, with a huge ID hanging over her neck to distinguish her from the rest.
She talked native delicacies that instantly scream Negros Occidental in big bold letters, replicas of piayas and napoleones and baye-baye.
And there’s more.
The dolls. All 3,000-plus of them from the collection of Mara Montelibano, ranging from tiny figurines to life-sized ceramic beauties all displayed behind glass cases.
People — locals and foreign alike — who have been to The Negros Museum have a new experience every time they enter the colonial style Provincial Capitol building that houses it.
The Negros Museum started its operations in March 16, 1996, or more than nine years after the idea was conceived in 1997.
The Negros Museum has since stood despite challenges, including breaking through the cultural and artistic biases, and the various turnovers of political reins.
It offered programs, projects to the marginalized, rolling exhibits, tours.
So far, so good.
And then COVID-19 struck.
To be continued