BUHAY Partylist Representative and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza is urging the City Government of Manila to immediately cause the return of the mural created by National Artist Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco to its rightful place in the Bulwagang Antonio Villegas in City Hall.
“Ngayong sinasabi ng National Museum na na-restore na nila ang obra maestra ng ating National Artist Botong Francisco, nararapat lamang na isauli na nila ito sa tunay na nagmamay-ari nito—ang Lungsod at mamamayan ng Maynila. This masterpiece was conceived and conceptualized by then Mayor Antonio J. Villegas, who commissioned Botong Francisco for the people of Manila. This grand mural depicts Manila’s history and its important role in our nation’s development. No one has the right to loan it or lend it to anybody. It must be returned to its original place in the Bulwagan in deference to the Mayor who, in his patriotic and cultural vision, had it made,” Atienza said during his privilege speech last Tuesday.
Atienza criticized the Manila City Government for not insisting that the mural be returned immediately after restoration.
“This priceless national treasure has been replaced by a piece of tarpaulin which has deprived Manileños of ownership and control over what is rightfully theirs. It behooves the City Government to take action and have it reinstalled at the Bulwagan. While we acknowledge the outstanding work that they have done in restoring the mural, the National Museum at this point should return this national treasure to its rightful place. Since both the National Museum and the City Government deem that the present state of the Bulwagan have not improved and would only expose the restored mural to the same deteriorating conditions as before, why doesn’t city hall implement an immediate renovation under the direct supervision of the National Museum and in accordance with museum specifications?” Atienza asked.
“There is no reason, much less an alibi, that would justify the sudden shift of control from the City of Manila to the National Museum. We appeal to Mayor Estrada and Director Burns to cause the reinstallation of this priceless obra in the Bulwagan to give justice to the laudable intentions of Mayor Villegas. Every Manileño should demand the return of the mural to its rightful place. I’m sure Mayor Villegas had the vision of a work of art that not only chronicled the history of Manila and the nation, but would leave a lasting legacy for future generations of Manilans. We must nurture pride in the hearts of all Manileños and not deprive them of this national treasure,” Atienza said.