Reaction Paper

On the 9th of February, I visited the Ayala Museum with the company of my mother and a friend, in the hopes that I could see some extraordinary things from our country’s (and as well as some parts of Asia’s) past – things that we do not see inside the classroom. To get this show on the road, I think it would be best to begin by saying that I was not at all disappointed. Starting from the grand lobby of the building, we made our way up to the fourth floor, where the exhibits that the teacher had required us to see are located.Stepping out of the elevator and passing through the automatic glass-doors, we were greeted by a dark room, with a huge screen, much like what we see in theaters. It was showing a video about the Gold of Ancestors. Very few people were inside, fellow students from other schools, I expected. But I did not dwell on that area. Truth be told, the Gold of Ancestors was not what I was looking forward to. I was actually very keen to see the exhibit on the Austronesian Theory. I will admit that before I went for my visit to the museum, I made a small research on the Austronesian Theory, the people and which exact parts did they dominate back then.I could not stand the wait that I had to check what I was getting myself into. Not that I was not trusting the museum to thoroughly explain the theory that I had to check the trusted Wikipedia. I was merely excited. What I did find out was that the creation of Indianized kingdoms Srivijava, Melayu, Majapahit and the founding of Hinduism and Buddhism were because most of the Austronesian people that populated in Maritime Southeast Asia traded goods with India and China and that the sea was the basic tenet for the Austronesian people. That said, their main means of transportation was boating.In addition to that, something from the Austronesian Filipinos, Mummification was found among the country’s highland. Those facts among others. After going through my tour at the Austronesian exhibit at the museum, I found out that my advance research was accurate, quite the same with what I saw there. I walked further inside and there, I saw: pieces of gold behind glassed cases, one section different from the other. They were, I must say, very nice, though some were nowhere near coherent that I really had to read the label below it to know its purpose. Some were diadems, cuff-links, bangles and many more.They more likely leaned onto the accessories department. And they were probably owned by the leaders back then. Almost every wall of the place bore glass-cases with pieces of gold, all of which had a brief description. And if not that, huge writings on the walls, explaining the exhibits. I walked further and then I saw a huge writing saying ‘Austronesian Migrations’. Instinctively, I made my way there. The writing stated that an archaeologist named Peter Bellwood did a research upon this study. The man claimed that about six thousand years ago, the Austronesian populations began migrating south.In the Philippines, they set sail to it some four thousand five hundred years ago. Then after a thousand years, they dispersed southeast, through the Mariana Islands and eastern Indonesia towards Oceania. Later, they moved through Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and southern Vietnam. Beside the brief summary of the Austronesian Migrations was a drawing of a map of the Southeast Asia. Lines connected one island to the other, stating where the Austronesian people came from and later moved to. After reading that, I walked through the back part of the room.Needless to say, more various kinds of gold were on display and more writings about other exhibits. I stopped on the left side. There, written on glass styled as a counter, were brief descriptions on another exhibit called the ‘Laguna Copper Plate’. Beside that was, once again, about Austronesian Migration. Only this time, it is a longer and more thorough description of the said topic. It was divided into sub-topics: Introduction The Austronesian-speaking people are ancestors of most populations in Malaysia, Indonesia and, of course, the Philippines. Also said in that, Homogeneity was big in the Austronesian family.To explain, Homogeneity, according to the Webster Dictionary, meant uniform; of the same element. Story of Movement, Survival, Colonization and Settlement As said in the museum, the Austronesian people’s main strength was sustaining settlement. Meaning they were at best when it came to coping with everyday life. As it seemed, they were intelligent, hardworking, resourceful and probably open-minded. Which, as far as I know, are what are you supposed to be if you want to keep the food on the table going and a roof over your family’s heads to shelter yourselves.It was also stated that they have plenty of sources of vitamins – protein, more like – that came from their crops, animals and fishes. Although there was no evidence of planting rice, they domesticated tubers. And in addition to that, they also domesticated pigs, dogs and chickens. Another essential to their everyday work were dug out boats with outriggers. This means of transportation enabled them to sail further for various purposes such as fishing and visiting other islands for trading. Cultures Flourished As I have said earlier, there were various accessories on display. Many of them were earrings in real gold.The Austronesian people had omega-shaped earrings as part of their culture. But the shape was not only known in earrings. The omega shape was also found in atopic materials not only in the Philippines, but also in Sarawak, Southern Thailand and Southern Vietnam. Another part of their culture was burial shroud woven with a backstrap loom. The earliest shroud was found in Romblon, Philippines. In a non-Neolithic site in Vietnam, a much older shroud was recently hollowed out. Betel leaves and Arecibo palm nit was used then and not to mention, now, as ingredients for popular chew preparations spiked with pounded lime.This cultural delicacy was called Manobo in Agusan, Mindanao. Evidences of Other Austronesian Links It was said that the Southeast Asian notions about the upperworld, underworld and the earthly realm have been linguistically traced back to periods before in contact with Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and western systems of thought. Sculpted figures of birds are viewed as symbols of the upperworld, the nags or serpent as the underworld and a tree with high branches and deep roots connected the two realms made the tripartite universe to reaffirm. REACTION:As I walked out of the museum doors, I had about a dozen things in mind. Most of which were terms I had to add to the paper. I was already looking forward to writing them down so I will not forget. That was how much I had absorbed in my mind just by going through the exhibit and taking small notes on it. So when I got home, after some rest, I sat in front of the computer and began typing away. I still am – this paper, a work in progress. As I have said much earlier on, I was in high hopes of seeing historic artifacts and the museum did not disappoint me.I had admitted that I made an early research on the Austronesian Theory which was very much the same with what I saw in the museum, but the internet could never trump the museum. I had seen rare pieces of gold in pictures in the internet, yes. But seeing it solid and real, it was amazing. The Ayala Museum did not spare me on information. I had been in numerous museums before. From the yearly school trips that I had at elementary and high school to just for leisure and entertainment to, such as this one, a requirement by a teacher, in research for a paper.And remembering it now, when I was a kid, I did go to the Ayala Museum. Back then, I was seven years old, wowed by pretty much everything and forgetting about it when the next good thing came along. Needless to say, I mostly forgot what I appreciated at the museum during that visit. But now, on my second visit, after more than half of my life had passed, I was more aware of the things around me. The point that I am making is that, years have passed and the museum has, in a lot of aspects, changed.And now, it would be such a shame not to mention how I appreciated the high technology that the museum had offered. Something they did not had a lot of back then. From the automatic glass-doors to the video on little screens that automatically plays when a person walks below the censor. It gives you furthermore information other than what was written already. Like, for example, in the Austronesian portion on the room, a little screen was placed beside it that played a video the second I stood before it. Just as what I said, I really was not spared on information.I am very confident to say that it would be ridiculous to think that the money paid for the tickets was such a waste. During my second visit, while going through the pieces of gold, I could not help but feel pleased with what we get to call as our ancestors. My heart swelled with pride and appreciation. I was, still am, thankful to them for passing down these down. And also for the researchers and specialists for finding them and preserving their beauty so that it can last for years and years so that not only the present generation can see and appreciate it but also for the many generations to come. Another thing that caught my attention was the fact that the Austronesian people were really good at sustaining settlements. The most important, is what it was. Food and shelter were the main things they sought for. Survival skills were an essential to daily living. You could just tell that they had worked hard and most likely faced different challenges every day. Anyone should admire how they coped with that and the fact that that was what they did best. Fancy, I must say, the gold was, but to top that, it was very much exquisite, very transcending.Not that I am attracted to the worth of the gold, it was never about that. It was the hard work behind it. With the obvious lack of high technology at that time, it was very difficult to achieve things without perseverance and incessant hard work. They had to find the means to make the gold to put them to use. Beautiful it was, but that was not its symbol. It was a sign of character; it showed that the Austronesian-people did indeed had perseverance, hard work and to top it all, dedication because it was an achievement to create such things.Which, hypothetically, were the real treasures that they had passed down. Those strong aspects – they were much more appreciated than the gold. To the gold, it was the professionals’ job to preserve them. But to these characterizations, it was ours – the descendants’ – job to preserve them. The professionals undergo much study on how to do their job. But for us descendants, we find our own means how to do it. We work harder, stick together, be there for each other and most importantly, we share what we have to the others.We pass down treasures worth keeping so that we are not the only ones who can benefit from them but all the generations to come. Just as what our ancestors did for us. Not only the gold, knowledge or story that our ancestors passed down to us, but their views in life and what they believed in as an individual and a member of a group of people striving for endurance through various of trials everyday, as well – which, if you ask me, is better than any other treasure. We value it, preserve it and pass it down for next descendants to do the same. An endless cycle, really.

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