Last 11 June 2022, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), in partnership with the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, Inc. (GBFI), launched the Elizabeth Y. Gokongwei Ethnographic Stoneware Resource Center (or EYG Resource Center) located at the 5F, East Wing of the National Museum of Anthropology in Manila.
In this project, the NMP and the GBFI hope to provide an open research facility that will encourage more students, teachers, and researchers to document ceramic traditions in the country and gain a deeper understanding of Filipino culture and identity through these collections.
Gokongwei Brothers Foundation General Manager Lisa Gokongwei articulated in her speech that the launching of the EYG Resource Center is in line with the Foundation's perspective that education is also a tool for transmitting culture that, together, defines our heritage. In an ever-changing society, education plays a major role in transmitting culture as it empowers youth to lead the desirable change in both the culture and values for the progress and development of the society.
"As a staunch advocate of holistic education, the Foundation takes to heart its duty to protect our heritage, enrich our culture, and pass this on to the next generation. Therefore, we are very grateful to the National Museum of the Philippines for bringing this opportunity to us and making it possible for us to contribute to the valuable field of cultural preservation," she said.
The establishment of the Elizabeth Y. Gokongwei Ethnographic Stoneware Resource Center will enable the country to showcase over 1,000 stoneware and earthenware ceramics from the National Ethnographic Collection to archeology students and the general public.
Decades of service to the youth, education, and culture
This unveiling of the research center is also in line with GBF's celebration of its 30th anniversary. For the last three decades, the renowned Foundation has provided thousands of scholarships to learners and educators, helping poor and low-income families in many communities in the Philippines.
With the establishment of the EYG resource center, the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation aims to expand its efforts in cultural education by showcasing best practices in collections management, including documentation, proper handling, maintenance, and universal access. It is also in line with GBF’s efforts to improve education. In fact, since 2006, GBF has also offered scholarship programs producing 589 graduates.
It will become a center where incoming and outgoing reference collections are registered, given a number, and photographed. Researchers will also be able to access the collections catalog and examine selected objects under the supervision of NMP collection managers. The public can observe how the collection is documented, maintained, and processed for exhibition, publication, and other educational programs through glass panels outside the hallway. As a result, more people will understand museums as more than just collections or repositories, but as agents of preservation and promotion of cultural objects and their stories.
GBF views culture as a means of reflecting and shaping values, beliefs, and aspirations, thus defining people's national identity. As a Filipino people, it is crucial that we preserve our cultural heritage.
Tribute to a cultural icon
The unveiling is also a tribute to Elizabeth Gokongwei, who was described as the 'cultural hearth' of the Gokongwei family.
According to GM Lisa Gokongwei, her mother introduced their family to vast collections of paintings, books, magazines, sculptures, and pottery from different cultures. Her mother prioritized celebrating traditions that would bring their large clan together, which they carried even after her death.
"My mother was also a born archivist and, in all her three homes, created a wall of photos of our ancestors from both sides of the family to remind us of our roots. She enjoyed visiting museums and galleries, here and abroad, and till the very end, showed an interest in varied subjects: Chinese calligraphy, history, and literature, world religions, and Taichi," Ms. Lisa said.
"A few years before she died, she published a best-selling book called My Angkong's Noodles in her desire to preserve heirloom Fujian home cooking recipes that would be lost with the passing of an older generation who filed their recipes in their fading memories. In doing so, she hoped that Hong Ba and Fresh Lumpia remained a staple not only for Filipinos with Chinese heritage but for all Filipinos," she added.