The Philippine ambassador to Washington Jose L. Cuisia visited the museum Sunday, April 17, to experience its new Encounters educational tour. Cuisia, who assumed his post in 2011, has made promoting Philippine culture, especially among younger Filipino Americans, one of his priorities.
Accompanying the ambassador’s tour was Philippine Consul General Gina Jamoralin, who encouraged Cuisia to visit the museum during his short stay in Hawai‘i. “I came on the Encounters tour earlier this month and enjoyed my experience immensely,” said the Consul General. “I wanted the Ambassador to also witness what the Encounters tour can do for the public, who may not know how Philippine art connects with Western art.”
Encounters, which compares Philippine and Renaissance art, begins in the Medieval & Renaissance Gallery—where paintings given to the museum from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation are displayed—then moves to the Nancy and George Ellis: Art of the Philippines Gallery. The tour highlights Catholic religious iconography from both galleries.
During his private tour, Cuisia ran into another Encounters tour group of students and priests from Chaminade University, which is a Catholic Marianist institution. The ambassador stopped to say hello and pose for a picture with the students.
“How many of you have Filipino ancestry?” asked the Ambassador. Immediately most of the students’ hands shot up. “That is wonderful!,” he said, beaming. “I may not look Filipino but I assure you I am, and I am glad you are learning about Philippine art.”
Ashley Farin, an undergraduate student in Chaminade’s Business and Communications program, said her favorite part of the tour was observing images of the Holy Family in Renaissance paintings and comparing the details of those works to Philippine depictions of the same subject matter. She said she wished she had had more time on the tour and hopes there will be more programs highlighting religious art.
The lead tour guide Cecile Yasay has found the Encounters experience rewarding, and has connected her to the museum. “I am honored that Ambassador Cuisia and Consul General have full appreciation of the Philippine exhibition and the uniqueness of the Encounters tour,” remarked Yasay. “Being a Filipina myself, the entire experience of training, studying, and giving a tour about my own culture was heartwarming.” She and 25 other volunteers participated in the Encounters tour training supported by the Kress Interpretive Fellowship awarded to the museum last year.