In difficult times such as what our country is facing now, it is comforting that there are still a few places where a Filipino can be proud of his patrimony. Yes, as the title says, we won’t be visiting a beach or a ruin. For a change, travel in the Philippines with a relaxed pace. Come with me to a different place of discovery: the museum.
Nestled on the sprawling lot of LVN studios on P. Tuazon blvd. in Quezon City is the LVN Museum. Once inside the compound, the visitor has to inform the people at the front desk at the administration building of his purpose, or he can call beforehand and have his name registered so the security guard can let him through. There is an entrance fee of P30.
The museum is still housed in a one-storey building, but don’t be fooled because there is nothing simple about the facade or the front lawn. Both are colorfully decorated with bayonets, shields, coat of arms and old lighting equipment. It’s a prelude to what a visitor can expect to see inside the museum: more than two decades of film legacy!
Before I went to the museum, I read up on the history of LVN from a masteral dissertation of a university professor. I learned that the studio was established in 1938, shortly before the Second World War. The acronym LVN was taken from the first letter of the last names of its partners: Doña Narcisa Buencamino de Leon, Carmen Villongco and Eleuterio Navoa Sr.
It was closed down during the war and opened again after the Liberation until 1961, when it finally stopped producing movies. LVN Studios’ facilities were revitalized to cater to post-production needs of its clients.
The museum is packed with surprises. I call them that because from what I’ve learned from my edifying interview with its curator and founder, Bernard Fernandez, the pieces on display were salvaged from a neglected state in storage. A museum was never in the plan of LVN.
Fernandez said that the museum was created by a mere stroke of fate, with a little initiative from him. He recalled seeing boxes and boxes of old costumes and props stacked in a bodega more than 10 years ago. Then in 1989, he had a vacant lot—where old and rotting cars were piled up—leveled down and a sort of open structure was erected. He employed a hired hand and moved the salvaged boxes to that site.