Lydia Aznar-Alfonso its founder belongs to the great men and women who dreamt of only one thing---to collect and preserve; to record and teach.
Today she is in a position to realize this dream. To build a Museum Complex that reaches out to people across the country with programs of cultural and educational value.
A place where everyone, young and old, rich and poor, find inspiration and meaning. A Museum that breaths life, where one is resuscitated, where one built peoples dreams, where a great past comes alive to inspire you to go beyond the ordinary and the mundane life.
Lydia Aznar-Alfonso has so much to share---treasures that she has amassed through the years not only for herself but for all, to the Cebuanos in particular as great legacy and to the Filipinos and all peoples of the world in general.
Her Collections has earned credits in prestigious books and magazines of Antiques and Artifacts, its rare and quality pieces has been sought after. Starting in the late 1967, she acquired pieces from collectors and those who sold her beginning collection then she drove and pursued her passion for archaeology; did some readings and observations and finally went into digging her own finds and around Cebu.
Successfully she unearthed prehistoric stone age implements; clay potteries, burial jars and urns; wooden boat coffins in them were trade beads, shell and gold jewelries, semi-precious stones and other ceramic jars Oriental and Chinese in origin.
Of her clay potteries and other stone and iron-age implements; it showed a superior prehistoric Cebuano Culture. A culture that has been made extinct when another wave of traders came to Cebu's chore bringing with them their 12-16th Century ceramics of the Chinese Ming and Sung Dynasties, thus a collection of Oriental Art came from China and neighboring countries in Asia.
It is interesting, not only for historians and scholars but for all who seek their own Filipino identity to discover that each piece of jewelry, clay pot or stone implement tells its own story.
Through its design, craftsmanship, artistic flair and the quality of its gold, the artistry of the early Cebuanos in Prehistoric times comes alive with a vibrant material legacy of a culture whose vision of life and death is brougth alive by its golden earplugs most similar to the modern day Bagobo tribesmen of Davao and Mindanao.
The Museum Collection proves to us that there is a strong link of an extinct Cebuano indigenous heritage, and an extant indigenous living heritage of the tribes of Mindanao, the Ethnographic heritage that was of Rajah Humanay and Rajah Humabon comes to us vividly--the Grand Visayan Pintados with its regal flair of artistic body tattoos is seen replicated in their designs found in their clay potteries, their gold jewelries and in many artifacts that they have left behind.
Cebu has remained to be a City of many Churches, it is known as the Cradle of Christianity in the Philippines. The City takes pride in six churches built during the Spanish period, a number second only to that of Intramuros which has eleven before the 1946 bombing. Up to the mid-nineteenth Century, the Catholic Church was the sole patron of the arts and it was in the building of churches and many liturgical arts that the creative energies of the Cebuanos where chanelled.
Realizing that time was so short, Dr. Lydia Aznar-Alfonso likewise tried to retrieve important religious relics that were found either in decay or being looted---santos, or holy images of freestanding sculptures or in relief, icons and religious paintings in wooden panels. It must also be noted that Cebu as a province, is one of the richest of the Visayas, which in l846 according to Jean Mallat, had forty-one towns: the island of Bantayan, Siquijor, Dawis Bohol and Camotes were under Cebu's jurisdiction.
This shows to prove why artifacts and other relics found in Cebu and in the neighboring Visayan centers were similar, likewise the architectural site of Bohol and Cebu churches were of similar directions showing a distinct Muslim influence combined with the neo-classical Baroque and Philippine folk elements.
These cultural legacy together with the carved Hispanic antique furnitures at the turn of the century is preserved in the collection as abridge linking the distant past of prehistoric Cebu and the present.
In recent times, she witnessed the awakening of the art movement of Cebu from the 2nd generation group of Martino Abellana, Julian Jumalon, Manuel Rodriquez, Alcoseba Sr., Tamayo, to the 3rd generation group of Romulo Galicano, Sym, Boy and Jun Mendoza, Raje Palanca, Subang, Kimsoy Yap, Gig de Pio, Manuel Panares, to the l970's group of artist Boy Kiamko, Undo Alcoseba, Tony Vidal, Jet Floriendo and the artists of the UP School of Fine Arts---Cuevas, Mojares, Pepito, of the late l970's into the l980's of JV Villacin, Raymond Fernandez, Karl Roque, and the new generation of artists of the l990's Anton Quisumbing, Stella Ocampo among others. She being a partron, started to document these periods with a collection you will find an inter linkage ofthe extinct material culture of the prehistoric Cebuanos and other Visayan Communities, the Chinese and Asian Ceramics with the Hispanic Traditions at the turn of the Century and todays mainstream contemporary art movement.
Aware of the awesome responsibilitiy of sharing this rich cultural tradition not only to the scholars and those engage in cultural work but also to the grassroots; Dr. Lydia Aznar-Alfonso sets up a Museum Foundation to establish the following:
1. a University Museum where an education component could set-up training programs that will equip the museum practitioners with the knowhow and in-depth understanding of what culture is.
2. a Preventive Conservation Laboratory under the auspices of the National Museum where collectors and other museums could ask for assistance in terms of conservation of artifacts.
3. a non-formal educational offering, that will develop cultural awareness among the grassroots, and a humanities program of art appreciation for housewives and other art enthusiasts desiring to know more about art and culture.
4. a training program for docents, museums lectures and tour guides for Cebu museum and galleries.
5. a museum complex in the hills of Pardo where a theme park could be built around the collection of indigenous Cebuano Artifacts. With indigeious tress Narra and Molave, Bayong were wood sources not only for altars with money and gold inlay but also for ship building of the Spanish Galleons.
6. a sculptural garden around the park that could become a venue for living exhibitions of weaving, basket-making, guitar making or even a food bazaar where torta, hojaldres, or bibingka could be offered to tourists and students groups; or the mounting of zarsuela, passion plays or even the pastores of the Christmas season.
With many projects and other potentials, a Foundation will be set-up to protect and ensure that a trust fund could protect this Lydia Aznar-Alfonso Legacy, a vision that could only be made possible if Cebuano Collectors. the NGO and the GO's will sit down to define what it wants for Cebu in terms of Cultural Revival that could be a partner for economic survival and development.