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Building Collections and National Memory

The Lopez Museum and Library mounted a special one day exhibition for the delegates of the 36th International Maps Collectors Symposium 2018 Seminar at the Ortigas Foundation Library.

There is much that is rare in the map collection of Lopez Library, which offers indispensable source materials for those who share interests in Philippine geographical and cartographical studies. Concerned primarily with imparting visual information, map-makers then created brightly colored renderings of the Philippine archipelago and accompanied them with lively decorative motifs and illustrations. Some maps are attractive enough to entice even those with little knowledge about the arts of cartography.

John SIlva
Ortigas Foundation, Inc.’s John Silva

“[I was] At the age of ten, when the Lopez Museum opened, it was an inspiring place to go to. That is where I saw old photographs, letters by our national hero Jose Rizal to his family. And these were fascinating things. And also maps and books. Mr. Lopez was sort of ahead of his time, he was of the generation of our founder, Mr. Rafa Ortigas Mr. Lopez was starting collecting his books and maps in the 40s and 50s. And we followed suit by Mr. Ortigas. Then John Silva in the 70s would try to buy maps but it would always be, “ah, there are no maps here Mr. Lopez bought them all, and Mr. Ortigas bought them all. So don’t even bother.” But now, it’s so nice to now be a steward to one of the largest collections in this country.”

– Ortigas Foundation, Inc.’s John Silva
 

Mr. Lopez was a great collector of books and all his life, all he wanted to own was the first book printed in the Philippines of which you know there is only one copy in the universe. It’s in the library of congress. It eluded him his whole life but because it eluded him he kept buying and buying and buying and when I was going to book dealers in Spain in the 1980s, I would say, “do you have anything on the Philippines?” And they would always ask, “Is Mr. Lopez still alive?” And I would say, “yes, he’s still alive.” He used to come there and they would tell me how he would arrive and he would ask what of the Philippines do you have and without even looking would say “bring everything to the hotel.” … So in the quest for the book that he never got, he built a large collection and most of the maps are in the original books. These (maps on display) are those that were kept in separate cases. … When I was first starting out collecting maps there was no gallery of prints to go to, and the only collection I knew of was the Lopez Collection. This was the collection I grew up learning from and actually seeing the actual objects to do my reference.

– Ambeth Ocampo
Ambeth Ocampo

  Don Eugenio’s deep interest and knowledge on the subject of early Philippine cartography came from years of tireless efforts in trying to locate them. By acquiring maps and rare books from antiquarian dealers in San Francisco, Paris, Madrid, and London, he immensely enjoyed their valuable collaboration. They determined the prices of items based on their rarity and scarcity. Several antiquarian dealers provided quaint anecdotes on how Don Eugenio used to purchase maps and rare books, which they related with grace and humor.  

The International Map Collector’s Society’s (IMCOS) INSULAE INDIAE ORIENTALIS, includes a morning series of lectures in the Ayala Museum by renowned local and international speakers themed around historical issues and unexplored accounts reflected in antique maps and prints concerning the Philippine Archipelago and beyond.

This symposium is presented by the Ayala Museum and GALLERY OF PRINTS, supported by IMCoS (International Map Collectors’ Society), London, and PHIMCOS (Philippine Map Collectors Society), Manila.