Museums are a fad because of the variety of items that reveal shadowed parts of the past and glimpses of the future. These items are the stars of the show, and most people would rather observe only them all throughout their visit, instead of the numerous other seemingly boring fixtures in the museum.
One such fixture is George Antolino, a security guard in the famous gold exhibit of the museum. He was tall, dark, but ignored by a lot of visitors. To those who noticed him, he looked like a normal Filipino corporate security guard. He wore a gray barong and black pants, sported a 3x4 military haircut, and almost-always held a walkie-talkie to his ear. With his pensive expression, you’d think he had a problem with being where he is. But by being a guard for Ayala Museum for four years, he is able to share peculiar insight on his job, on the people going there, and on the stars of the show, the artifacts.
His pensive expression revealed nothing about how he initially desired to work for the Ayala Museum. He found its ambiance refreshing to the senses, after his stint as an SM security guard. According to him, he trusted Ayala’s reputation too. After four years, he has not left, which leads us to ask if he loves his job. “Oo naman,” was his response. His family depends on what he earns from the place, and that is enough to make him happy there.
With around two-hundred visitors a day, it seems like George is not the only one drawn to the museum. From his observation, schools would normally schedule field trips, and foreigners mostly consisted of Koreans and Japanese. When asked if he had problems with any of the foreigners, he responded with, “Sa totoo lang, mas madali pa ngang kasundo ang mga foreigner na iyan eh. Kaunting sabi mo lang sa kanila na huwag gawin ang ganito o ganiyan, susunod na.” Foreigners were used to being disciplined, while Filipinos who visited the Ayala Museum would only pretend to follow the rules. He could not understand Balikbayans insisting to pay the more expensive foreigner fee, and only shrugged his shoulders at the thought that they might have just been bragging.
George’s daily task is to protect golden artifacts he speculates as simple pieces of metal the revealed history. He thinks they simply look like junk aluminum foil painted gold. Despite this, he eagerly pointed to one particular piece of junk encased in a glass box. Inside the container was a human torso wearing George’s favorite piece, a 24-karat halter with an intricately knitted design, resembling a rope with fine threads.
“Sinuot ‘yan ni Cheche Lazaro sa T.V. Sa Probe. Ako nagbabantay noon eh,” he shared, with pride evident from his eyes, as they intently looked at the halter. He then went back to his duty.
Museums showcase items like the halter that certainly reveal a lot about history by just being on display, and not making any sound. However, certain unnoticed members of the Ayala Museum, like George, when asked to share, can also teach us about our own selves. Sometimes, we may even learn things that no priceless gold artifact can spell out. We just have to get to know them, to maybe get to know ourselves a little better.