UP Vargas Museum opens exhibition of Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth

| Written by Padayon UP

In collaboration with the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum launches PCGG Artworks Collection: Objects of Study, an exhibition showcasing some of the art works recovered from the Marcoses’ trove of ill-gotten wealth.

The exhibition, which was announced in a July 11 Facebook post, features a diverse collection of art pieces crafted for religious or aesthetic purposes by both noble and peasant artists from all over the world. These pieces were made using various unique mediums such as egg tempera and copper, glass, gold leaf, lacquer, wood, and more.

Photo from UP Vargas Museum’s Facebook page

According to the UP Vargas Museum, these works were originally imported by Imelda Marcos from Italy, Russia, and the old Yugoslavia for the establishment of her Metropolitan Museum of Manila. At the time, the museum was intended to be a venue for international art exhibitions meant to introduce Filipinos to foreign cultures. When the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted, it deviated from such a purpose and focused more on enriching Filipino arts and culture.

“The exhibition addresses the need to situate these cultural objects within a social context, to productively appreciate and to come to terms with the layers of difficulty presented by the PCGG Artworks Collection in its implication of a complex political history,” stated the museum’s official Facebook page.

“They are entangled in the matrix of refinement and excess, identity, prestige, taste, power and beauty, development, nationalism and internationalism, acquisitiveness, Cold War, Third World, Martial Law, New Society, People Power,” they added.

The PCGG was primarily constituted in 1986 by the late president Corazon Aquino to sequester the ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the Marcoses, following the events of the EDSA revolution. As of 2021, they were able to recover P174.2 billion from the Marcos loot; included in the loot were a variety of paintings and art work.

“Since then, a number of paintings, including the ones by Botticelli, Raphael, and Titian, had been disposed of by the PCGG through auction, the proceeds going towards agrarian reform. But some pieces remained,” the statement from the museum explained.

The Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, also known as the UP Vargas Museum, houses a collection of books, archives, art, and memorabilia compiled by UP alumnus Jorge B. Vargas. The PCGG exhibition, in particular, is located at the 3/F Galleries. To book an appointment, visit their Facebook page or call them at (+632) 8928 1927.  – with reports from Bea Bertuldo/Rappler.com


(This article, written by Bea Bertuldo, was first published in the Rappler Website on July 14, 2022)