Books & Art

This Zambales Museum Lets You Dance the Mambo with President Magsaysay with VR Technology

Thanks to virtual-reality technology, you can be part of key events in Ramon Magsaysay's life.
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For less than four brief years (1953-1957), Ramon Magsaysay was the president of the Philippines. Rising to popularity during the following years after the Second World War, Magsaysay was a bonafide war hero whose exploits as a guerilla leader during the World War II is the stuff of a big-budget action thriller. Even before becoming the country’s youngest president at 46, Magsaysay’s life was ripe enough for a biopic, if not a teleserye.

The current generation may only know of him because of his son, former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., who had briefly revived his father’s famous campaign jingle, the "Mambo Magsaysay," which flipped a nostalgic switch with the Boomer set and those old enough to remember.

Ramon Magsaysay is probably more known because of his tragic death on March 17, 1957 in a plane crash on Mount Manunggal in Cebu, as Magsaysay’s legacy has somewhat become more distant and obscure to the succeeding generations. It doesn’t help that there are only few history books available on the life of the seventh president of the Philippines.

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As part of its efforts to introduce the legacy of President Ramon Magsaysay to the present Millennial generation, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) renovated and reopened the Museo ni Ramon Magsaysay in December 2016. 

The Magsaysay museum has three main galleries that are dedicated to the following themes: The Life of Magsaysay, Magsaysay’s Family, and Death and Legacy. Various artifacts, personal effects, and memorabilia from the late president are on display in various parts of museum.

The latest addition to the exhibit is the Ramon Magsaysay 360-degree Virtual Reality Experience. Produced by the NHCP and made by local VR production company IAC PH, the virtual reality exhibit was launched September and features three events in the life of Magsaysay. Visitors can watch the scenes on dedicated VR headsets in the museum.

IMAGE: Anne Biemann
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The VR episodes were shot entirely on location at Magsaysay’s ancestral house in Zambales and inside the Malacañan Palace. The first VR vignette is the opening of the Malacañan Palace to the Filipino people. One of Magsaysay’s well-known acts, the event is even immortalized on the palace grounds with a life-sized statue of the president and his famous quote on the base of the statue that says “Malacañang is the palace of the people.” The 360-degree video was shot at the Quirino Room in the palace where historically, cabinet meetings really took place.

The second scene which was also shot in Malacañan, is Magsaysay announcing his land reform program to the press, known as the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA). NARRA was a precursor to other government land reform programs. The last scene is a tender moment between Magsaysay and his wife, the First Lady Luz Banzon-Magsaysay. While talking about Japanese war reparations and Magsaysay’s WW II exploits, the first couple engage in a short mambo dance to the tune of the president’s signature campaign song, the Mambo Magsaysay. Hopefully the three VR shorts inspire people to get to know more about The Guy, Magsaysay.

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IMAGE: Anne Biemann

 

The Museo ni Ramon Magsaysay is open to the public from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8AM-4PM. Ed Geronia wrote the screenplay for the Ramon Magsaysay VR Experience.

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