By Loejan S. Anudon
Priceless collections of old artifacts and books written by renowned Binalonians were shown to the public during the unveiling of its museum on March 8, 2013. Prominently displayed on the walls are meticulously restored photographs of individuals who made significant contributions to the town’s history. Many if not most of the portraits were donated by former Miss Universe, Ms. Margie Moran Floirendo from her personal collection. Ms. Floirendo was the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the inaugural ceremony and whose ancestry can be traced back to Binalonan. Coincidentally, during the event, Pangasinan Representative Kimi S. Cojuangco learned that she and the former Miss Universe may have common ancestors. They both have roots reaching back to an old Pangasinan family, the Gonzalez, which is unique by its use of two Zs making the connection between the two dignitaries potentially true.
Modernists see most memorabilia as relics that belong to the past and have no place but to clutter the present. However, historians and curators will argue that without appreciation of said relics, we cannot learn the lessons from our past and gain insight into our future.
The archival of items from the past through museums and other similar institutions ensures that historical records and documentation are preserved for future generation. It is our shared responsibility to cherish and protect our heritage as we move on to meet the new dawn – not to worship those in photographs but learn from them as we also craft our own legacy. It is our inheritance from our forefathers that founded our culture and beliefs; the melodies of our songs that keep drifting from one generation to another. However, heritage will continue to evolve and develop new histories and lore.
Museums are not mere repositories of artifacts from our past they also serve to bolster our sense of self in the realization of the richness of our own history and heritage. The experience of going to a museum is not the same for everyone. Some undergo a scant fascination and maybe entertainment from the exhibits; but quite a number encounter a much more profound awakening be it a sense of self or pride or wonderment. It is for those moments of illumination that museums truly shine.
Having a museum in a town such as Binalonan is a sign of its awareness but also a sign of progress and growth which is why Congresswoman Kimi Cojuangco who was invited to deliver a message during the opening extolled Mayor Ramon “Monmon” Guico, III for giving significance to the history of Binalonan of which is also history of Pangasinan. During her speech, she also mentioned that the mayor’s progressive vision and innovative ideas for Binalonan encouraged her to partner with him in his endeavors. His advocacy to transform Binalonan into a “University Town” inspired her to file a bill in congress, which she already did, will enable the country to recruit foreign students and make it easier for students to apply to and attend the universities all over the Philippines. The ability to attract foreign enrollees will guarantee global status for the country, opening up numerous opportunities for commerce. The success of making Binalonan a university town will be a winning endeavor for everyone.