The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines

the progress of medicine in the philippines
The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines | @museumxst0ries | Carlos V. Francisco

The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines 

In 1953, Dr. Agerico Sison, then director of Philippine General Hospital, and Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing, director of the National Museum, Dr. Florentino Herrera Jr., and Dr. Constantino Manahan commissioned Carlos V. Francisco (1912-1969) to create a painting depicting the history of Philippine medicine.

The painting consists of four oil-on-canvas panels depicting medical practice in the Philippines in four historical eras, averaging 2.92 meters in height and 2.76 meters in width. They were displayed in the lobby of the Philippine General Hospital for 58 years until their permanent relocation to the Museum Foundation of the Philippines Hall at the National Museum of the Philippines on 27 July 2011.

Healing practitioners, such as the babaylan of pre-Spanish Philippines, represent the core of the first painting, which features a composite of Francisco’s imagined representations of ancestral Filipinos.

The next panel features monk scholars as healers, occupying the center of the painting. The kneeling figure seems to be searching on the ground for plant specimens, some of which he holds with his right hand, for medicinal preparations. The other monk, whose back is turned to us, appears to be recording their discoveries and poring over scientific experiments.

The third painting illustrates the American period with the birth of the Philippines General Hospital. Symbolized by hygiene, forced inoculations, and other emblems of American medicine, Francisco seems to convey that it was a period of transition in which yet another colonial idealogy was again being imposed using health and sanitation as a justification.

The last artwork is full of markers of modern science. In the center is a figure undergoing surgery with six masked figures in medical scrubs in attendance. Modern medicine is also defined as a combination of new technologies and education, represented by buildings, pharmaceuticals, the production of vaccines, and the use of x-ray machines and laboratories.

Reference: National Museum of Fine Arts Write-up, Wikipedia

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