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Meet the Team of Lopez Museum and Library: Kindred Spirits Walk These Halls

Stewards and Custodians of Heritage: Standing, l-r: Romeo Jalandoni, Cristina Modrigo, Mark Manalili, Kristine Pastrana, Gerry Marquez, Iday Marpa, Peter Natividad, Marga Villanueva, Jun Catambay, Ethel Villafranca, Rod Enano, Ricky Francisco, Domingo Magaling, Ricardo Calizon and Paolo Arago; Seated, l-r: Elvie Iremedio, Mercy Servida, Mercedes Lopez Vargas, Margarita Fragante and Fanny San Pedro. Not in photo: Eric Ambata, Grace de Leon, Grace Macalincag, Mildred Apilado and Maita Reyes
Stewards and Custodians of Heritage: Standing, l-r: Romeo Jalandoni, Cristina Modrigo, Mark Manalili, Kristine Pastrana, Gerry Marquez, Iday Marpa, Peter Natividad, Marga Villanueva, Jun Catambay, Ethel Villafranca, Rod Enano, Ricky Francisco, Domingo Magaling, Ricardo Calizon and Paolo Arago; Seated, l-r: Elvie Iremedio, Mercy Servida, Mercedes Lopez Vargas, Margarita Fragante and Fanny San Pedro. Not in photo: Eric Ambata, Grace de Leon, Grace Macalincag, Mildred Apilado and Maita Reyes

Article originally featured in LopezLink.

For Ethel Villafranca, Ricky Francisco and Eric Agoncillo Ambata, their work in the Lopez Museum and Library allows them to fulfill lifelong dreams.

Villafranca, Administration and Education head, says she validated her yearning to contribute to culture and nationhood when she quit a highpaying corporate job to pursue a master’s degree in Museum Studies (specializing in Education) as a Fulbright scholar in the University of Florida. She never returned to the corporate grind, and now devotes up to 12-hour days “not to fatten somebody’s pocket,” but to“contribute, even just a little, to the greater good.”

Ethel Villafranca quit a high paying corporate job to pursue a degree in Museum Studies. Now, she devotes 12-hour days in the Lopez Museum and Library “not to fatten somebody’s pocket,” but to “contribute, even just a little, to the greater good.”
Ethel Villafranca quit a high paying corporate job to pursue a degree in Museum Studies. Now, she devotes 12-hour days in the Lopez Museum and Library “not to fatten somebody’s pocket,” but to “contribute, even just a little, to the greater good.”

A Philippine Arts, major in Art Management alumna of the University of the Philippines Manila, Villafranca is very passionate about the work that she does, and marvels at the enormous potential of the Lopez Museum and Library.

“Even before I joined the team in 2011, I already knew the reputation of the museum and I wanted to be part of that kind of advocacy. We really cannot do everything we want because our resources are limited. But this is true for all museums, even the big ones located in wealthy cities (in the US) where you would think art and culture has a ready audience. What we do is we prioritize, we can only do what is humanly possible. We cannot be everything for everyone. Otherwise, we will be ineffective,” she says.

Positively integrated

Francisco, a Social Science alumnus of the Ateneo de Manila University and museum consultant since 2005, says his work takes about 75% of his time and is positively integrated with his growth as a person because it “engages (his) creativity, fulfills (his) thirst for knowledge and allows (him) to do his part for the greater good of the nation and for (his) fellow Filipinos.”

'Work is positively integrated with my growth as a person because it engages my creativity, fulfills my thirst for knowledge, and allows me to do my part for the greater good of the nation and for my fellow Filipinos."
‘Work is positively integrated with my growth as a person because it engages my creativity, fulfills my thirst for knowledge, and allows me to do my part for the greater good of the nation and for my fellow Filipinos.”

Although he left in 2010 to pursue some projects in Singapore, Francisco returned to Manila in 2012 and found his way back to the Lopez Museum and Library last year, proposing and co-curating its most recent exhibitions with Villafranca.

“We are trying to get more people to visit the museum through cross-disciplinary exhibitions intended for a wider audience. We use both the library and museum collections for a holistic approach that would appeal to schoolchildren and adults. All our exhibitions have a strong educational component,” Francisco says.

Ambata, webmaster and social media manager, says, “One of my personal goals is to be of lifelong service in the field of arts, nationalism and culture, and you could never be more inspired and powered by that than by working for an institution like the Lopez Museum and Library.”

Visual arts background

A Fine Arts graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, his visual arts background served him in good stead when he was assigned to design, develop and manage the Lopez Museum and Library website in 1999 by the company contracted for the project. From then until 2003, the museum website was recognized twice by the Philippine Web Awards.

“You could have a part of your work to take home at the end of the day. And it is called gratitude. You can leave the stress at your desk, but the smile of being thankful after a good day’s work is always precious.”
“You could have a part of your work to take home at the end of the day. And it is called gratitude. You can leave the stress at your desk, but the smile of being thankful after a good day’s work is always precious.”

Over the years, Ambata took on several consultancies with clients like the Asian Development Bank, the Ayala Museum and various multilateral institutions and corporations. Yet he “never stopped working and designing the Lopez Museum and Library website.” His current challenge is “projecting preparing, translating and augmenting the web, digital and social media requirements of the museum” until it moves to its new home in The Proscenium in Makati City.

Although interviewed separately, all three professionals chose integrity as the primary Lopez Value they apply at work.

Villafranca says: “I was raised by my parents to have a strong moral compass.” Francisco says being honest in one’s work can be seen in everyone in the museum.“Because we love the work that we do, we are true to it. Foremost in our minds is to do what is good for the collection.” Ambata says: “I have weathered many storms in my career but I stayed true to my values. (The museum) is always part of my success.” 

‘Gratitude’

Ambata’s message to LopezLink readers? “You could have a part of your work to take home at the end of the day. And it is called gratitude. You can leave the stress at your desk, but the smile of being thankful after a good day’s work is always precious.”

Meanwhile, Francisco and Villafranca invite their Lopez Group kapamilya to visit the Lopez Museum and Library.

“The museum is open from Monday through Saturday, even at lunchtime. There is so much to see and learn. It is a good way to spend your time. There is a discount for employees of museum corporate sponsors. Come for a journey of discovery,” says Francisco.

“Discover why our founder spent time and money to put the collection together, and to make it available to all Filipinos, not just a select few. So far, only EDC (Energy Development Corporation) has included the museum in its onboarding program for new hires. The museum nourishes the soul and our pride in being Filipino. Let’s take a break from the everyday grind and learn about our grand heritage,” says Villafranca. (Story/photos by Carla Paras-Sison)

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