I know all three of you readers may be tired of all my posts on the original Rizal manuscripts — I believe this is the fourth one? — but I hope that you will humor me this one last time.
Over the weekend, I made two more trips (Friday and Saturday) to the National Library to take a look not just at the original manuscripts — I’d seen them up close before anyway — but also at the other Rizal artifacts that the National Library had on display in celebration of our national hero’s sesquicentennial. And as it turns out, the National Library did have more artifacts in its vaults than just the “Noli”, the “Fili”, and the “Mi Ultimo Adios”.
Every stage of Rizal’s life seemed to be well-represented at the exhibit. Those who made the effort to visit the exhibit had a chance to see Rizal’s report cards from the Ateneo Municipal, his diaries and journals, and even some of the comics that he drew — from “The Monkey and the Turtle” to that infamous picture of a man with explosive flatulence.
Considering that it was being held on a weekday, it was understandable that there were only a handful of people checking out the artifacts on display. It was encouraging that the few who were there seemed to react with the proper mixture of awe and curiosity that I imagine librarians and museum curators would like to see in their charges.
The way that the artifacts were lit made it a bitch to take pictures of them, but the librarian for the Rare Books and Manuscripts section — sounds like something out of Harry Potter, doesn’t it? — said that this was because the German conservators had advised them that if the lights were any brighter, it would result to the ink from these century-old artifacts to fade and disappear forever. She even cited the “Mi Ultimo Adios” as a prime example. Only a facsimile of the “Mi Ultimo Adios” was on display because the original was apparently faded enough to require being stored inside several acid-free board folders, Japanese paper, and a box.
I thought that the crowds would be thicker on the second day. Actually, I actually thought that there would at least be a crowd on the second day of the exhibit, but on my second visit I pretty much saw about the same number of people, maybe even less. Oh well. Maybe they’ll be more excited on Rizal’s 200th anniversary?