The Nayong Pilipino Foundation Virtual Museum Project is part of the Heritage Space Program. The project will consist of digital exhibitions of the different artifacts with the intention of going beyond the standard flat images and short captions. This will be achieved through different multimedia outputs, such as videos, three-dimensional imaging, social media integration, and community-centered content generation. The last two are important in creating a dialogue and co-production between NPF, the indigenous communities represented, and the public.

Our future cultural park will include a museum that will house the NPF permanent collection that has over 2,500 artifacts from the different indigenous peoples of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The NPF collection is diverse and varied, ranging from intricate beaded jewelry to striking weaponry for hunting and warfare to ritualistic artifacts. It also includes musical instruments, vessels, funerary objects, and textiles.


18 August 2021 – Museo ng Nayong Pilipino Bulletin (August 2021)

25 May 2021 – Museo ng Nayong Pilipino Bulletin (April 2021)

19 February 2021 – Museo ng Nayong Pilipino Bulletin (February 2021)

10 February 2021 – Museo ng Nayong Pilipino presents “Unthread”

16 December 2020 – Museo ng Nayong Pilipino Bulletin (December 2020)

The Philippines has a wide array of basket forms, all depending on their use. Moreover, the weaves, their sizes, and even the fibers used to produce these point to a craft and artistry that has spanned centuries. The practicality of their storage use hints at the multiplicity of their use and an art that has been passed.

See also:

The Making and Meaning of the Different Basket Forms in the Philippines

Essay Series: Natural Heritage and Basketry – Rattan | Bamboo | Abaca | Nitu | Pandan | Anahaw | Buri | Colorants

Follow Museo ng Nayong Pilipino on Instagram SalikSining: Entwined

Unravelling the Museo ng Nayong Pilipino Project

Unthread explores the role of textiles and accessories in community life, concentrating on those that are worn for various occasions, rites of passage and liminalities, indicators of status, expressions of local creativity, place wisdom, and biocultural heritage. Read more

Scoping Resources on Textiles and Personal Ornaments

Studying the clothing textile and body ornaments, through its facets of composition, method, and types of production, use, and function, and consumption will aid in a better understanding of the wearer’s cultural identity. Read more

Unthread: Patterns from Interwoven Philippine Communities

With every thread woven, the weavers and wearers carry the histories and stories of different Philippine communities. Read more

Follow Museo ng Nayong Pilipino on Instagram SalikSining

In photo: Filipinas weaving cloth (1907-1916), University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries.

While the study of funerary artifacts can give us so much information about past societies, the practice also brings up questions of ethics, remembering that these burials were not initially meant to be disturbed by future societies.

― Patricia Panganiban

We hope that this article starts a series of conversations on reasons why these grave markers were taken by collectors in the 1970s – 1980s from their original communities, and to begin asking questions if this is something one should collect.

museo ng nayong pilipino - grave expectations

ULINIGIN: The Sound and Soul of our Shared Heritage

“The Nayong Pilipino currently has several musical instruments that may represent several groups of the Philippines. It is our goal to present some of the materials in our catalogues, so that these materials can be studied and shared with those interested in under standing how musical material culture floats through identity and geographic space. And  like the music that they bring, we hope to highlight the Filipino talent, not only in sound  but to show how it is embedded in the soul.”

Full text

ULINIGIN: The Sound and Soul of our Shared Heritage

The commonality of sound and song resonates throughout different groups around the world, and it is certainly no different with the various Philippine groups. It is no wonder  that music can relay relationships through time and space, akin to spoken language emitted by cultural groups which expands by transmitting part of their identities. 

In a recorded lecture by National Artist Dr. Ramon P. Santos, he explained that Philippine musical heritage largely came from two traditions: from our Southeast Asian neighbors and the Euro-American Western influences. The European Western influences of  course stem from the onset of Spanish colonization in the Philippines where musical influences may be attributed to global exchanges, especially at the onset of the Manila Galleon Trade. However, the Southeast Asian musical influences continue to live on through traditions and communities. Dr. José Maceda (Maceda 1978), another National Artist for Music, mentioned that similarities of instruments—alongside other material cultures—is comparable to the Philippines’ neighboring countries; yet the sound, melody, forms, and the roles of these musical instruments greatly vary throughout a  wider geographic distribution. This is not surprising, given that the Philippines is formed by numerous islands, all with a unique geographical environment that led to the  rise of hundreds of languages. In this way, while influences cannot be denied, there is also  a unique property in the sounds and melodies that each group can produce. 

One of these is the ganza or gangsa, the brass gongs used by the Cordillerans for their rituals. Different ways of eliciting tone from the gangsa are used depending on the  observed occasion. In one way, the hands are used to beat and slide on the brass material  to develop a ringing tone. However, on the occasion of a ritual, the six people will play  different sizes of gangsa to produce various tones to produce a dance. Brass gongs in Southern Mindanao, however, have a mound in the middle, which must be struck by a percussion stick to produce sound. These can be suspended from strings of rattan on  bamboo suspension, an instrument utilized for signaling and as the beat for the music.  One or two people can play this at the same time. This type of gong can be found  throughout Mindoro to the indigenous groups of Mindanao. The most widely known  gongs, however, are those that are laid according to size, famously known as the kulintang and mostly associated with the Islamic groups of Mindanao. The kulintang is able to play the melody, unlike the other gongs that mostly play the beat. 

Aside from this, the kudyapi or stringed lute, zithers, and the Jew’s harp can be found throughout the Philippines, indeed only varying in the tones that they produce. In a letter describing the cutiape (kudyapi) of the Bisayas, a Spanish priest marveled: “The strings used for [the harp] are made from twisted silk…it bears a close resemblance to a  hurdy-gurdy, and has four copper chords. They play it so cleverly, that they make it express whatever they wish; and it is asserted as a truth that they speak, and tell one another what ever they wish, by means of that instrument, a special skill in those of that nation” (vol. 29,  p. 290). The importance of this kudyapi is prominent in courtship and in other speaking  engagements, where these can be used as a speaking instrument that happens to play musical tones. Brandeis (2012) elaborated on the various forms of the kudyapi throughout  the Philippines, mentioning that in Mindanao there are more or less 20 forms of this  instrument! 

Other materials such as the zithers, Jew’s harp, and xylophones are commonly made of  bamboo. (Dioquino 2008) As always, the bamboo is considered one of the most import ant plants in the Philippines, featuring prominently in communities. These range from  the material for house building, bridge construction, basket-making, and here also in music-making (Roxas 2012; Tamolang et al. 1980). Such importance given to the plant indicates the intricate knowledge and understanding that the Filipino bestows upon their environment and learning their properties and uses. It is not hard to imagine that  the initial Filipinos have high regard for the plants that command such a variety of use in  life. 

Music and melody are then representative of identity and histories as their uses range from everyday community music to ritual performances accompanying important life transitions such as celebrations of marriage, death, harvest rituals, and head-hunting. Each group also has various musical instruments, which may also only be played in a  certain event. Maceda (1998) provided examples of these musical instruments, which he  summarized to mostly composed of brass gongs and bamboos. Nevertheless, he expounded on other instruments such as drums constructed with the deer hide on a group of  bamboos held together by rattan, and also other instruments found throughout the Philippines. Nicolas (2008) connects it to the Southeast Asian musical tradition which is not only present through ethnographic analysis, but also present in archaeological excavations throughout Indonesia, Taiwan, Borneo, and others. This shows the long history of  the musical instruments used by various groups, although it was only with the Spanish  arrival that the terms used were eventually recorded (Blair and Robertson 1903-1909). 

Beyond daily life and music’s contribution to rituals and transition, musical instruments  played by various Philippine ethnic groups also provide a subtle indication of gender  roles, although as is with any Southeast Asian groups, such may also be fluid (Andaya 2000). This ties musical instruments to the daily and gendered lives of the people, which  Mora (2008) provided in a study of the musical instruments used by the T’boli of Lake Sebu, Mindanao. While the instruments themselves are engendered, much like the  domestic practices that are viewed as either male or female, the players themselves may  play the musical instrument commonly attributed to gender while they themselves are not of the same sex. This complex nature of musicality and instrument shows the multifaceted roles of each member of the group when it comes to making music, and thus also the context in which these are used. 

The Nayong Pilipino currently has several musical instruments that may represent several groups of the Philippines. It is our goal to present some of the materials in our catalogues, so that these materials can be studied and shared with those interested in under standing how musical material culture floats through identity and geographic space. And  like the music that they bring, we hope to highlight the Filipino talent, not only in sound  but to show how it is embedded in the soul. 


Andaya, Leonard Y. 2000. The bissu: Study of a third gender in Indonesia. In Other   pasts: Women, gender and history in early modern Southeast Asia, edited by B. W.   Andaya. Honolulu, HI, USA: Center for Southeast Asian Studies. 

Blair, Emma, and James Robertson. 1903-1909. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898.   Volume 26: 260. Cleveland: Arthur Clark. 

Brandeis, Hans. 2012. Boat Lutes in the Visayas and Luzon – Traces of a Lost Tradition.   Musika Jornal 8:3-94. 

Dioquino, Corazon. 2008. Philippine Bamboo Instruments. Humanities Diliman 5   (1-2):101-113. 

Maceda, José. 1978. Introduction to Philippine Music. The World of Music 20   (2):78-81. 

Maceda, José. 1998. Gongs and Bamboo: A Panorama of Philippine Music Instruments.  Quezon City, PH: University of the Philippines Press. 

Mora, Manolete. 2008. Lutes, Gongs, Women and Men:(En)Gendering Instrumental   Music in the Philippines. Ethnomusicology Forum 17(2):225-247. 

Nicolas, Arsenio. 2008. Nicolas 2008 Review Maceda(1998) Gongs and Bamboo. A Pan  orama Of Philippine Musical Instruments. Musika Jornal 4. 

Roxas, Cristina A. 2012. Handbook on Erect Bamboo Species Found in the Philippines.   Laguna, PH: Department of Environment and Natural Resources Ecosystems   Research and Development Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural   Resources, College. 

Tamolang, Francisco N., Felipe R. Lopez, Jose A. Semana, Ricardo F. Casin, and Zenita  

 B. Espiloy. 1980. Properties and Utilization of Philippine Erect Bamboos. In Bamboo Research in Asia, edited by G. Lessard and A. Chouinard. Ottawa, CA: International Development Research Centre. 

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