Campus: CSU Hayward -- May 28, 2003

Filipino Art and Artifacts Find Their Home at Cal State Hayward

A major collection of early art and artifacts from the Philippines is preserved in the archives of the C. E. Smith Anthropology Museum at California State University, Hayward.

Although the collection of more than 250 items includes donations from various individuals and cultural groups, the principal donors are Robert and Sue Krone. The Krones said that when they began looking around for a place to donate their collection of 207 Filipino artifacts, some hundreds of years old, they were told to look no farther than Cal State Hayward.

“The ambassador at the Philippines embassy in Los Angeles told us the best people to care for these pieces were with the Center for Filipino Studies at Cal State Hayward,” said Sue Krone. “He had heard about the Center for Filipino Studies and the Filipino Studies degree program there and recommended we offer our collection to them.”

Robert Krone is a professor emeritus in systems management from the University of Southern California and still teaches all over the world in addition to current duties at the University of South Australia and La Sierra University in Riverside, CA. Sue Krone has accompanied her husband on his travels throughout the Far East and became somewhat of an authority on art, artifacts and antiques of the Philippines. They live in Fallbrook, near San Diego.

“Over the years we made many long-lasting friendships with people in the Philippines, and they knew how interested we were in historic pieces,” said Sue Krone. “They would take us to remote villages and markets in the islands, the mountain provinces as well as the lowlands. Other pieces we found just by our own exploration.”

Sue Krone said she has been collecting antiquities since she was 15. She and her husband, both 72 are still fascinated with the Philippines.

“Although Cal State Hayward has things we’ve collected, such as a very old rice god statuette and a warrior’s belt, just as important are the books we donated,” she said. “Books on antiques of the Philippines are hard to come by, and we made sure they would be a part of our gift to the university.”

Perhaps the rarest donated volume was written by Robert Krone himself. It is a manuscript detailing his study of the Kabayan mummies, with original photos. The Kabayan mummy caves are located about 140 miles north of Manila,. The mummies of the Ibaloi tribe in Benguet province lay undisturbed for centuries, until the early 1900s, when loggers accidentally found mummies in several caves, together with hundreds of skulls and wooden coffins in the town of Kabayan. The caves are on the list of the 100 most endangered historical sites by World Monument Watch

‘Spirit of Thunder Mountain’

"The Krone Collection: The Spirit of Thunder Mountain" was first displayed at Cal State Hayward’s C.E. Smith Museum of Anthropology in the spring of 1995. Events surrounding the opening of the exhibit coincided with the third annual conference of the American Association for Filipino Psychology. Related events included a presentation by Cal State Hayward anthropology professor and author Harry Arlo Nimmo on the people of the southern Philippines islands of Sulu. Arlo is author of the book, “The Song of Salanda and Other Stories of Sulu.”
The also was a dramatic production by the San Francisco Filipino troupe Teatro Tambayan and a forum on “Filipino Cultural Forms and Practices in America.”

“This exhibition was very significant, indeed,” said exhibit curator Virginia Agbayani, an emeritus professor and former associate dean in fine arts from the University of the Philippines. “We selected items that demonstrated the life of the mountain people of the northern Philippines and their relationships with the people of the lowlands.

“The Krone collection was so extensive it allowed us to fully show not just the artifacts, but the stories behind them. Some people call that culture. I call it the story of life.” Agbayani recalled how she worked with Meg Singson – wife of CSUH business professor Ric Singson - and “enthusiastic students” to set up the museum display, taking care to protect the artifacts, some from the 17th and 18th centuries, that included wooden idols and handicrafts.
“As we arranged the exhibition, I remember learning quite a few new things myself,” said Agbayani. “And we also found that there is a tremendous interest by Americans in Filipino culture.” Currently she lives in Mission Hills in Southern California, but also retains a residence on the University of the Philippines, Diliman, campus in Quezon City.

Today, Agbayani’s projects include continuing her cultural studies, lecturing on Filipino hero Jose Rizal and presenting seminars in southeast Asia on teaching art in public schools.
Pieces from the Krone collection have been combined with other artifacts for university exhibits. A collection of Filipino spears, shields and figurines were displayed in 2001 as part of “Not Just Another Pretty Face,” an exhibit of museum pieces demonstrating how research makes anthropological objects valuable.

Some of the Krone’s collection of clay and wooden bulol spirit god statuettes were a part of an exhibit of shamanic power objects displayed from October 2002 to February 2003.

Web Connections to Filipino Artifacts

A Web site created by CSUH graduate Jeff Whittington gives researchers and students virtual access to the collection. The Web site elements also include an area to find information on any one of 100 Filipino ethnic groups, from the Abaknon people in the Visayas to the Zamboangeno on Mindanao. Visitors seeking a geographical orientation can go to the maps page and investigate people based on where they live. There also are sections on cultural migration, social organization, magic and omens, food, architecture, language and literature.

The Web site notes that anthropologists are fascinated by the Philippines because of the concentration in a small area of many different traditions and external influences. Situated both on the cultural boundary between Asian and Oceanic peoples, and the physical boundary of the Asiatic and Australian continents, the archipelago provides a veritable laboratory to explore theories involving migration, diffusion, independent invention, and cultural materialism.

Of particular interest on the CSUH museum Web site are the photos and descriptions of artifacts in the Krone collection, many included in this sampling:

  • Musical instruments include drums, nose flutes, a bamboo guitar, bronze gongs and a variation of a Jew’s harp, used by young men in courting. Music has always been an integral part of Filipino life, used in courtship, entertainment, and every sort of life ritual and religious ceremony.
  • The “armory” has information on weapons, including knives, axes and swords, spears, shields and blow guns. One of the spears on display is the fearsome-looking Bontok si-na-la-wi-tan. This barbed weapon used by highlands tribes is considered a war spear, but it tends to be used more for frightening the anitos, or spirits, who threaten solitary travelers in mountain passes.
  • The pottery exhibit represents the work of the Kalinga tribe. Shards have been found in gravesites dating back to at least 1500 B.C. The collection include elaborate funerary pots, used as urns and in mortuary rituals, with incised and impressed motifs such as scrolls, meanders, triangles, and tiny circles.
  • The basket collection includes those made of bamboo, rattan, pandanus, nito, and innumerable tropical grasses. The extraordinary proliferation and divergence of styles from group to group testifies to the longevity of the tradition and the centrality of basketmaking to Filipino life.
  • The Filipino woodworking tradition extends back at least as far as Neolithic times. Artifacts in the museum’s collection – and on display on the Web site – include wood containers, spoons, sculpture, household items, and examples of the bulol, or "Ifugao rice gods," which are carved human figurines into which a certain class of anito spirit was said to incorporate itself when worshipped.
  • Among the most interesting artifacts in the textiles exhibit are skirts and blankets made of beaten bark using a technology which the Ta-p'en-k'eng, or proto-Austronesians, who lived 5,000 years ago, seem to have brought with them wherever they went.

Much of the collection can be viewed online at: http://www.isis.csueastbay/cesmith/virtmus/Philippines/Overall/Index.htm

For more information about the collection, contact Marjorie Rhodes-Ousley, associate director of the C.E. Smith Anthropology Museum, at (510) 885-3104.
A Web site describes Cal State Hayward’s many connections to the Philippines and includes photos of university students restoring Filipino artifacts in the museum collection. It is located at: http://www.isis.csueastbay/cesmith/virtmus/Philippines/Overall/Intro1.htm

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