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Juan Luna is probably the Philippines’ most famous artist. He lived during the Spanish Revolution and was a contemporary of National Hero, Jose Rizal. He studied in the Ateneo and pursued further education in Spain. His most famous work, Spoliarium, is not only award-winning and critically acclaimed but is familiar to all students in the Philippines.

The funny thing about Juan Luna is that I had inadvertently visited most of the exhibits of his life without meaning to. The only time I actually set about to look at something of his was when I went to the National Museum when I was taking Ambeth Ocampo’s class.

I first saw Juan Luna’s grave in 2008 when we interred my aunt in the San Agustin Crypt. Prior to that, I didn’t even know he was interred there. (Yeah, I’m the kind of person who likes to read everything. Even graves.) After that,  I saw the Spoliarium and some of his other works in the National Museum and Ayala Museum. And now, during my Ilocos trip, we found ourselves in front of the Juan Luna Shrine–two doors down from my grandmother’s ancestral house in Badoc!

Juan Luna was born and raised in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. They have rebuilt his house to serve as a shrine. Tarpaulins of his most famous paintings are displayed in the courtyard, with a statue of him in the middle.

Outside the brick house, a brief history about Juan Luna had been installed by the Philippines Historical Committee.

His home was beautiful, made of stunning red brick and wooden shutters.

Inside, photographs and tarpaulins of all his paintings are displayed. His real paintings are in the National Museum or in the Ayala Museum. There are also some photographs of him and his friends, Rizal and Padro de Tavera.  His painting instruments are displayed in glass cases and we were amazed to see that his wooden paint palettes were huge–bigger than a dinner plate. It makes sense, with the size of his paintings, but wow.

Coming in, you will be asked to register. There is no entrance fee. The place was only manned by a couple of people, and Benjie was nice enough to answer all our questions. When he saw we were actually interested, he followed us in our exploration of the house and told us all about the paintings and furniture in the house. He was a great guide–he didn’t just inform us about the paintings, he was also knowledgeable in Juan Luna’s life. I learned a couple of things during my brief visit in this place.

I remember this painting being discussed in Ambeth Ocampo’s class. :D Some people say that the three men in the corner are Juan Luna, Jose Rizal and Pedro de Tavera. The woman they are looking at is actually an inverted map of the Philippines. Benjie, our guide, had a Philippine map and showed us how the woman’s body was exactly the shape of the inverted Philippines. Her arm is Palawan, her upper body Luzon, the inverted V of her legs the bottom islands in Mindanao.

Outside the Luna home is a well. In their times, having a well at home was a sign of affluence. People have been tossing coins in the well. :D

Here is Benjie, our tour guide.

The Juan Luna shrine is definitely a great place to visit for history buffs, art lovers, and people who still love to learn, even when not in school. The place is well maintained and very clean, the guide is knowledgeable and the the tour has a personalized feel to it. Dropping by definitely made our Badoc stop memorable.

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