Historic museum rots in irrelevance

CITY OF IMUS, CAVITE—A  P12 million museum here is left in a dilapidated state no thanks to scarce funds and less prioritization from local officials.

The Imus Historical Museum opened to the public in September 2003 and was temporarily closed as the maintenance and enhancement of the facilities had been stopped in April 2005. It then reopened after a few months with the aid of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Cavite Historical Society, only shunning its doors once again December of the same year.

That museum, even without an official declaration from the city government for its formal closure, stood on the site of the earlier Imus Arsenal situated within the walls of the now Provincial Police Office Camp General Pantaleon Garcia, commony known as Cuartel. Only the weathered roof of the museum is visible from the outside.

At present, the museum still houses the life-sized moving tableaus depicting episodes from the Philippine revolution of 1896 to 1898, particularly ones that occurred in Cavite. Aside from the carved dioramas of the revolution, the museum also has murals and relief sculptures.

Despite public speculation that the dioramas in the museum are already in ruins, former Imus City Administrator Jose Elmer Francisco said I think the dioramas “are still in good condition.”

Records from the city tourism department show that the temporary closure of the museum in April 2005 was due to the inability of Department of Tourism to turn over the museum’s management to the Imus Foundation.  The second time it shut down was because of financial problems of the foundation.

Francisco, who was once part of the operations of the museum, said it was complications with the foundation that led to the stop of the museum business.

“The operation halted because of the failure of the foundation, which manages it, to sustain the funds needed for its operations, particularly electricity expenses.”

Restoration and reopening of the museum is still a pending matter. The management of the museum is yet to be transferred to the present city government of Imus.

The city tourism department is undetermined as to when transactions will be settled.

“The matter was turned over to the (Cavite) provincial capitol but there was a change in the seat of the regional director. We received a memorandum of agreement that they will be the ones to manage it. We do not know how much longer it will take.” said Baby Crisostomo, public relations officer of the provincial tourism department.

Surprisingly, Imus Historical Society (IHS) refused to give comments on the issues facing the Imus Museum. But Francisco divulged that the IHS is in the process of constructing another museum also to be erected at the heart of Imus City.

A resolution emanated from IHS requesting exploratory talks with the Diocese of Imus regarding the re-opening of the underground tunnels under the Imus Cathedral which were used by the Katipuneros during the revolution to secretly travel to Kawit, to Manila, and to other nearby places, one of which that also leads to Cuartel.

The Imus Historical Museum was a proposal spearheaded by former Senator Richard Gordon during a celebration of the Battle of Imus. It was immediately approved by former City Mayor Homer Saquilayan, backed up by then vice mayor Emmanuel Maliksi, now this city’s mayor.

This city is Cavite province’s officially designated capital city. Found some 19 km. from Metro Manila, Imus City was where two major victories of the Katiipunan during the Philippine revolution against Spain happened: the Battle of Imus (Sept. 3, 1896), and the Battle of Alapan (May 28, 1898).

(Ms. Mallari is a sophomore journalism student of the University of Santo Tomas, and submitted this story for her News Writing 1 class)