Wesley GonzalesThis is the latest in our series of individuals who appreciate the various CSR services of the Lopez Group, this time in the field of arts and culture through Lopez Museum and Library. Through their feedback, we feel more inspired and committed to spread good, the Lopez Way.
Can you tell us who Wesley Gonzales is, his family and educational background, occupation, hobbies?
A proud Ilonggo, I grew up in both Manila and Iloilo. I feel privileged to be raised in a household of readers and it is to that learning environment conducive to “The Life of the Mind” that I owe my love for books, for art and philosophy.
I studied communications and criminology during my undergrad years. For postgraduate studies, I got to attend both National University of Singapore and Harvard University on a Lee Kuan Yew Fellows scholarship. I consider myself a perennial student and am a strong believer in the adage that goes, “When is the best time to learn? All the time.”
I’ve been a law enforcement professional for over 10 years now and find public service a deeply fulfilling endeavor. At the same time, equally satisfying for me has been the opportunity to pursue other lifelong passions outside of government work.
When did you first visit Lopez Museum and Library (LML) and what made you go there?
What is it about the place that makes you come back again and again?
I remember the first time I walked into LML in 2003. I was 23 and keen on learning more about Philippine artists, architecture, culture, history. I remember being impressed by the collection and the library. Not long thereafter, I found myself handing over my CV to the director, Cedie Vargas, who so graciously opened the doors of the museum to a curious stranger. I’ve stuck around ever since.
Through the years, I feel privileged to have been granted the chance to contribute, oftentimes as a researcher, to the many exhibits and shows put up by the museum. The experience has been nothing short of remarkable. You see your contributions brought to life and you feel part of the success.
In addition to enjoying time spent reading in the library, equally gratifying for me has been enriching the collection by donating interesting books and objects I’ve come across and acquired in my travels. From postcards to posters, from tribal weaving to books about Filipino artists, it’s been a joy to see such things find a home in the museum where they can benefit a wider audience.
It must also be said that I love coming back again and again because of the warmth and hospitality of the amazing people who keep the place together. They make me feel like I’m part of a family, and for that I am grateful.
What is LML’s effect or influence on you?
More than anything, LML has heightened my patriotism, my sense of being a Filipino. I don’t see how one can spend time in a place like the museum, surrounded by all the amazing Philippine art, iconography and history, and not be moved or inspired to become a better, more conscientious citizen.
What particular values are you taking out whenever you visit LML? Do you pass these values on to your workplace?
Respect. Caring. Thoughtfulness. I’ve seen and felt such values practiced at LML through, among many other things, the way the collection is treated (with love and reverence) by the museum. In the way staff regard not just visitors but one another. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in. Those are values which will always matter.
Can you tell us a memorable experience you’ve had at LML?
I’ve had so many that to mention just one seems like a disservice. I remember that one time I was asked to look for Juan Arellano building blueprints for an exhibit. I went to the Manila City Planning Office on short notice and was surprised to be led to a dark and dusty basement where they stored architectural plans. Leafing through the old, oversized drawers, there they were. Yellowing blueprints not just by Arellano, but also other luminaries like [Juan] Nakpil, [Pablo] Antonio and [Ildefonso] Santos Jr., among others. A treasure trove of Philippine architecture. It’s a simple experience but a memorable one for me, nevertheless.
What advice would you give the youth and other first-time visitors regarding LML?
If you’ve never been to LML, do come and visit for the art, which is great. But do return and spend time to know not just the galleries, but also the library. Sit down, take in the atmosphere, ask the librarian for a nice book (or books) to read, sit up, walk around the rooms where the artworks are, sit down again to read some more. You’ll find that LML rewards appreciative (and unhurried) attention with a revelatory experience that can make you realize just how rich and wonderful Philippine art, history and culture really is. (Story/Photos by: Dulce Festin-Baybay)