after having a snack at casa manila's coffee shop (also by barbara's), we headed back to san agustin and decided to raid its museum. okay, we just looked and gawked.
the museum is located in what used to be the monastery. it seems the monastery has been destroyed by every war that came its way: the british forces destroyed it in 1762, the americans had their turn in 1898, and the japanese and americans did their damage in 1945. so when they restored it yet again in 1973, they said, "oh, what the heck. it doesn't have any luck being a monastery. let's just turn it into a museum." (of course, that's just how things played out in my head)
tickets cost P80 for adults. this includes a brochure that lets you know what to expect. you enter through the sala recibidor, which used to be a classroom. here you will find ivory versions of different saints, christ on the cross, and even sto. ninos.
it's quite unfortunate that all the paintings that lined the walls of the church's ground floor corridors were undergoing restoration, so we weren't able to see any on this trip. we also didn't get to see the tomb of miguel lopez de legazpi in the church itself, as there was a wedding when we were there. but the beauty of this place is that it's just in manila. we can visit it again, without difficulty, even (save for the traffic).
while walking through the corridor, you can see the inner courtyard, where functions may be held.
we then reach a large wooden door, with a security guard standing beside it. he inspects our tickets, opens the lumbering door to what used to be the vestry, and reiterates, "no picture taking lang po sa loob."
we enter, and the door closes behind us. i felt a tiny chill creep through me. on the walls were humongous paintings of legazpi and other important figures back then. one corner of the wall had a bamboo crib that contained a teeny tiny replica of the baby jesus.
also in the room were various flags of the cities of old, as well as old language books (to help the spanish understand us better, i s'pose). the room opens into the old sacristy, which is filled with various things that i can't find a unifying theme for. on one side, there's a miniature model of san agustin, as well as a model of an old house. there was also a list of schools back then. against the walls are large chestdrawers where the vestments were kept.
after that, we walked along another corridor, then went out to father blanco's garden, where we took a little break from the walking. the garden seems a bit surreal, like a fairy land of sorts, but with an old broken wall that jolts you back to reality. beside it is a courtyard that you can rent for various functions.
and then it's back to the museum, this time on the second floor. just going up the stairs that lead to it is an event. looking up, you can see a brick-laden dome. susie couldn't help shouting so he could hear how loud the echoes were.
the first hall we explored was where chapter meetings were held. i loved the terraces that looked out to father blanco's garden. the paintings up for restoration were also "parked" in this room.
we then enter a room where you can see plans for the san agustin church, or the san agustin complex, as i like to term it. this room is quite interesting, as it also includes photos and short descriptions of various augustinian churches built throughout the country. susie and i made an impromptu list of churches that we'd like to visit.
we then had to breeze through the other rooms, as closing time was just a few minutes away. susie wasted no time leading me to the oratorio, where the large wooden pipe organ was. this area was above the interior of the church, and had seats where dignitaries would sit and hear mass. but really, it was the pipe organ that was the real jewel in this room. i hope i get to hear it play.
and just like that, the adventure was over. the guard just couldn't wait till we left so he could close shop, so finally, we gave in and left.
san agustin church
tel. nos.: 5274060; 5274061; 5266793; 5266794
open daily from 8am-12nn; 1pm-6pm
admission: P80 for adults