Ancient gold of the Philippines on exhibit in NYC

NEW YORK – Unknown to many, the ancient Filipinos in Butuan had an advanced culture with a fine taste for hand-crafted gold items, even before the arrival of colonizers.

“Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms” is a dazzling exhibition in New York that showcases just that – a window into the rich Philippine history immortalized in pure gold.

“Ipinapakita lang niyan na tayo’y mga sibilisadong tao na rin bago dumating ang mga banyaga,” Philippine Consul General Mario De Leon Jr. said. “Ipakita natin ito sa mga anak natin para malaman naman nila na ang Pilipino talagang meron nang sinabi bago pa dumating ang mga dayuhan.”

The spectacular works of gold include jewelry, exquisite regalia, ritualistic objects, ceremonial weapons, lavish ornaments and even funeral masks. There are about 120 gold objects in display here – a showcase of the sophisticated gold-working techniques in the Philippine from the 10th century to the 13th century.

Many of these treasures were unearthed between the 1960s and 1981. The majority of the exhibit is on loan from the Ayala Museum and Central Bank of the Philippines’ gold collection.

Senior Director of Art & Culture, Ayala Museum Mariles Gustilo said, “That’s what I really like about this exhibition concept here at the Asia Society. It showcases the artistry of the Filipino because these are ornamental objects and I think the way the exhibition is designed, you will ll be able to look up close using magnifying glasses.”

The exhibition is curated by Ayala Museum’s Nina Capistrano-Baker and Senior Curator Adriana Proser of the Asia Society.

Proser said, “I had absolutely no idea that this material existed. I was so excited and blown away by the quality of these pieces, by what the secrets they’re starting to reveal about maritime trade between the 11th and the 13th centuries, between the Philippines and China, and other countries in South East Asia and South Asia as well.”

But the the biggest question among those who have seen the exhibit — what is the value of all this gold? It’s anybody’s guest because none of the organizers would even dare tell.

“First of all, the value is priceless when you talk about something this rare,” Proser said. “I don’t really think there’s away to really measure that. I think people should just come in and be awed.”

This priceless exhibit will be on display at the Asia Society Museum beginning Friday Sept. 11 until Jan. 3.

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information

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