Filipino Struggles Through History

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Filipino Struggles Through History is a mural painted by Carlos “Botong” Francisco in 1968. It is also known as History of Manila.[1]

It was displayed at the Bulwagang Katipunan of the Manila City Hall until it was removed for restoration after being damaged by a water leak.[2][3]

Declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1996, experts consider this mural as among Botong’s greatest existing works of art.[4]


The mural measures 270x487 centimeters. It chronicles the history of Manila and the Philippines.[2][3]

Its panels depict the panoramic episodes of the first great Rajahs of Tondo, the Spanish colonial period and the 1896 Revolution up to the American colonial period. Also seen in the mural are famous Philippine historical personalities such as Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Francisco Balagtas and Limahong.[2][3]

History and context

The mural was commissioned by former Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas.[2][3] It was displayed on the walls of the Bulwagang Gat. Antonio Villegas, formerly named the Bulwagan ng Katipunan at the Manila City Hall.[4]

In 2012, the mural was removed from the city hall for restoration at the National Museum of the Philippines. It had been damaged by water seepage from leaking pipes in an upstairs room.[4][5] According to Gemma Cruz-Araneta, who was vice chairperson of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission during the removal and restoration of the mural, a portion of the mural had fallen off.[5]

The restoration was funded through a memorandum of agreement between the Manila government then led by Alfredo Lim and TIEZA in July 2012. The memorandum also detailed a P20-million donation from the Department of Tourism to cover the cost of restoration.[5] TIEZA then provided a photo mural to replace the original mural at the city hall.

The panels were brought to the National Museum of the Philippines in January 2013 for restoration. In February 2018, after being restored, it was brought to the National Museum of Fine Arts for viewing by the public.[4][6][1]

‘Disappearance’ controversies

In 2013, a controversy arose when tourism officials alleged that the mural was missing. However, Cruz-Araneta denied that the artwork was missing and clarified that it was being restored.[5]

In 2018, then Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and the Manila City Council signed an agreement to keep the mural at the National Museum. In exchange, the National Museum was required to provide a “more durable” reproduction of the mural.[1]

In 2019, controversy arose anew when a bill was filed by BUHAY Party-list Representative Jose Atienza Jr. calling for a congressional inquiry into the so-called “disappearance” of the mural from the Manila City Hall.[7] He also called on the National Museum to return the artwork to the Manila City Hall. The call to return the mural to the Manila City Hall was supported by local officials including Mayor Isko Moreno.[4][8] The mural remains on display at the National Museum.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gutierrez, Angelica. One of Botong Francisco’s Most Famous Murals is Now on Display at the National Museum. Esquire, 2018. Accessed on 7 May 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, 1st ed.. Philippines: CCP Publications Office, 1994.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Francisco, Carlos Villaluz. Geringer Art Website. Accessed January 25, 2008
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 De La Cruz, Christa. Not-a-Surprise: We Know Where Botong's "Priceless Obra Maestra" Is., 2019. Accessed 7 May 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 'Missing' mural in National Museum, Araneta says. ABS-CBN News, 2013. Accessed 7 May 2021.
  6. Visitor from Manila City Hall. Facebook: National Museum of the Philippines, 2013. Accessed 7 May 2021.
  7. Atienza, Jose Jr. House Resolution No. 70. House of Representatives, 2019. Accessed on 7 May 2021.
  8. Lalu, Gabriel Pabico. Atienza to National Museum: Return Botong Francisco mural to Manila gov’t., 2019. Accessed on 7 May 2021.



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