Joey Panlilio announces departure from Museo De La Salle
Jose Ricardo Panlilio, former museum director, formally announced his departure from the Museo De La Salle in Dasmariñas, Cavite, by hosting a quiet dinner.
Close friends, relatives and Museo patrons were dressed to the nines at Mireio in Raffles Makati. The invitation acknowledged the donors who had helped jumpstart the Museo, among them the late Marie Theresa Lammoglia Virata and Luz Sarmiento Panlilio.
Other friends of the Museo came in full force: Dee Zobel, Bonito Singson, Giselle Montinola, Vicot Panlilio, Marivic Vazquez, Jaime Ponce de Leon, Robbie Santos, Margarita Cojuangco and Preciosa Soliven.
Conrado Escudero and Tony and Mita Rufino also sat at the head table.
In 2000, the Museo De La Salle was established by then Education Secretary and De La Salle University president Brother Andrew Gonzalez, to be a repository of artifacts from the genteel lifestyle of the colonial era. He chose Panlilio as co-founder.
The museum presented the best of Filipino decorative arts in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the beginning, Panlilio sought the help of OB Mapua & Partners, who donated its architecture and engineering services. As a “rescue project,” the museum had to be recreated like a bahay-na-bato. This posed engineering challenges, since the proportions were hefty for a traditional ancestral home. The space had to accommodate the large collection of antiques. The capiz windows needed steel reinforcements to withstand the strong sea breezes.
Principal architects Joel Lopez and Oscar Mapua said that the time spent by consultants on the design, printing, travel, communication, documents production and acquisition of building occupancy easily amounted to some P3.5 million. The firm gave their services for free.
For the museum’s daily maintenance and to keep the sculptures and furniture in their best condition, Panlilio looked for donors and sponsors. For nearly two decades, he had to source the money not included in the annual Museo budget.
Last year, donors wrote to the Office of the La Salle Provincialate, which integrates all the La Salle offices, urging them to reconsider its position on the Museo’s new direction. They also underscored Panlilio’s valuable contributions to the Museo.
Anthropologist and Museo consultant Fernando Zialcita wrote, “The Museum needs a director and a staff that truly understand the legacy and are eager to share this both with the La Salle community and the rest of the country. Not just any academic credential will do.”
Zialcita added: “For the Museo De La Salle to move forward, there should be transparency in disclosing the status of donations, loans and grants since the very beginning. Being a friend of Joey, I am partisan to my views. I believe him when he says that all his actions have been for the benefit of the Museo De La Salle. For example, he spent his own money supporting some unforeseen expenses like the need for professional gardeners and Museo maintenance housekeepers. Most importantly, there were Museo representational expenses for important donors, sponsors and friends that were not included in the Museo yearly budget, which he continuously spends for from his personal funds.”
Panlilio has kept mum about his departure, spending the last six months redecorating his home in Quezon City.
Close to midnight during his farewell dinner, patrons and friends gave speeches. Elsa Mapua, wife of architect Oscar Mapua Jr., waxed nostalgic about the Museo’s design. “The museum remains an attractive building… Its size is intimidating. This was because it needed to fit the beauty and heritage provided by the generosity of the donors.”
Dee Zobel, whose husband, tycoon Enrique Zobel, was close to Brother Andrew, credited Panlilio with helping preserve Filipino cultural heritage through the museum.
“He lovingly filled it with an incomparable collection of historical family heirlooms, meticulously curated, thereby bringing life to a lost but cherished era,” she said. “When one walks through those enormous wooden doors, one is immediately transported back to a gracious and elegant period in Philippine history. There is no other facility in the Philippines that can compare. It is my fervent wish that the Museo De La Salle be carefully preserved with sensitivity and professionalism, allowing this gem to enchant and educate future generations.” –CONTRIBUTED
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