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National Museum of Natural History among his contributions

In his Facebook post, National Museum director Jeremy Barns details Jimenez’s milestone contributions to the arts and culture tourism. We reprint with his permission.

In remembrance of the late former secretary of tourism Mon Jimenez:

If how the legacies of great Filipinos would be remembered were up to me, I would, both personally and in my connection with the National Museum of the Philippines, wish that former tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., who served between 2011 and 2016, be remembered for at least four things:

1) Convergence of the National Museum with Rizal Park and Intramuros. Sec Mon deeply believed in the idea that, in Manila, the National Museum (being part of the Department of Education) should converge as much as possible with Rizal Park and lntramuros (managed by two agencies—the National Parks Development Committee and the Intramuros Administration—that were part of his own Department of Tourism family), to form a single and whole historical-cultural-artistic destination at the heart of our national capital. This idea (which, though obvious, was hampered by the ways of bureaucracy) prospered somewhat during his tenure, and is being brought more rapidly to actual realization today by Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat—which goes to show that a good and logical idea will always, with at least some tenacity, eventually come into its own.

2) Botong paintings from Manila City Hall. Emergency funding, at the very urgent request of then Mayor of Manila Alfredo Lim in 2013, for the restoration and preservation of the History of Manila, aka “Filipino Struggles Through History” paintings by Carlos V. Francisco, was given priority by Sec Mon, as relayed to me by him on many instances. The result of his concern, and the necessary funding by TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority) which he facilitated, can be seen today (since 2018) in the former Senate Session Hall of the National Museum of Fine Arts.

3) Bohol-Cebu post-earthquake restoration. Emergency funding for the restoration of National Cultural Treasures, National Historical Landmarks, Important Cultural Properties and other qualified sites after the 2013 Bohol earthquake was made possible by Sec Mon with a large initial fund from TIEZA that he made available to the National Museum, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, for the purpose. This work took up years of attention and, in our case, is only now reaching its end.

4) National Museum of Natural History (NMHN). The NMNH would not have been possible had not the secretary of tourism resolved to move out of the building that his department had occupied for about 40 years. Although this had been mandated by Republic Act No. 8492 back in 1998, it took 25 years from the approval of that law before the necessary political will was exercised. And it is surely to the eternal credit of Sec Mon that he was the one who did it. He had many reasons for doing so, not least his ideas of how the Department of Tourism had to be refashioned to a certain extent. Privately, though, he made me swear that we at National Museum would make it worth all the hardship, and when the NMNH was finally fully opened in 2017, he was so ecstatic—not as a by then ex-official but as a patriotic Filipino—in a way that I will never forget and with messages that I hope always to keep on my phone and cherish.

In all this and more, our relationship was deep and intensive—and, probably more important to anyone else, hugely productive for the public benefit as we both saw it—and this is why I cannot let this day on which he died pass without giving him some paltry shred of the credit owed by me and so many others to him, for the enlightened use of his power, authority and resources, and for his leadership, support and friendship.

Sec Mon might go down in history for making Jollibee a (now global) national icon and for the mindset (which we joyously embraced) of “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” but he deserves also to be remembered as a mover and enabler of much more that he passionately sought, while he had the chance, to make good and true for this country that he loved and believed in.