May 29, 2016

Galleria Taal Camera Museum

The most important instrument in taking a good photograph is your eye, heart and soul. Second is your camera.

A camera captures a moment in time and records history. Manny Barrion Inumerable, a civil, engineer, businessman and vintage camera collector, knows this by heart, that’s why he opened in 2010 the Galleria Taal, the first vintage camera museum in the Philippines. Being a photo hobbyist, I find my first camera museum experience in the historic town of Taal, Batangas, quite personal and very educational. 

Manny’s passion for photography, started at an early age when he inherited a 1957 Royal Rangefinder (a Japanese version of Leica) from his uncle who just died. Since then, his camera became his constant companion, perhaps even his first great love. Though his mother initially did not approve of his pastime, as it was expensive buying films then, he remained firm and resolute. Even after he lost his first camera and broke his heart into pieces, it never stopped him in pursuing his dream.

Several decades later (and after years of constant searching thru photo fairs, flea markets abroad,  antique shops, auction houses and online auctions),  he now owns more than 170 rare cameras, some dating back to late 1800’s, that are on display at Galleria Taal, the restored 1870 ancestral home of Domingo Ilagan and Maria Martinez, Manny’s great grandparents.

The main staircase

The dining room

Manny’s favorite is the furniture camera centerpiece Century Studio, the biggest among his collection. Made by Century Camera, Co. between 1900-1907, it was the prime camera used by professional photographers for portraiture.

A Hasselblad historical series. Some Hasselblad were used on the moon surface in the late 60s to early 70s. 

Sanderson “de luxe” with Taylor and Hobson lens and Koilos shutter. Camera was made by Sanderson Camera Works around 1902-1904 in England.

Kodak Bulleye No. 2. Made of wood with black leather covering, made by Eastman Kodak between 1895-1899 in Rochester, New York.
Rolleiflex “King of twin reflex cameras”, 1956-59, Germany. The cameras are popularly used by news correspondence during the Korean War in the 1950’s.

Ontoscope stereo camera. Made by Cornu Co., Paris France, circa 1925. It has a magazine of 11 film plates at the back that make stereoview photos in 3D.
Lancaster Instantograph camera. Made by J. Lancaster and Sons in Birmingham, England, in 1984. A well made polished mahogany folding field camera, it was once part of the “Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain”.

Ansco No. 10 Model B, 1907, USA

Gundlach Banquet camera. Introduced in 1914 by Gindlach Optical Co., and uses 7” x 17” film sheet and holder to make panoramic pictures of landscapes.
Walter Tyler New Pattern Helioscopic Lantern “Magic Lantern”.  The best known lantern and an early type of image projector produced by Walter Clement Tyler in 1887 in London, England. It has a pressed steel body (which looks like a miniature train) with ornamental vent holes along the base and a large brass projection end in which is mounted a condenser lens. In the later part of 18th century, illusionists used the magic lantern to trick people into thinking that they had summoned up spirits.

Kodak View camera 2D, 1905, Rochester, New York

Century Model 46, 1902, USA
Daguerreotype camera, 1860-1880, USA. The first commercially successful photographic process in the history of photography.
My baby - the limited edition Nikon FA Gold. A 24K gold-plated camera, made in 1984 in Japan, in celebration of Nikon being declared as European camera for that year (Camera Grand Prix). The body is covered with lizard skin, and has a matching gold plated lens. It was the first gold-plated model from Nikon that was made available for sale. With only 2,000 pieces made, it is now highly sought by camera collectors around the world because of its rarity and beauty. It is even listed on eBay for a whooping $12,000.

The museum also features a gallery of Philippine antiquarian photographs of the 1800’s, American Occupation, World War II, and the Liberation period.

Vendor, 1880,  John Silva Collections

Street Car Manila, 1912, Manny Inumerable Collections

Tutuban Station, 1930, George Bonsay Collections

Manila City, 1950, John Tewell Collections

I got hungry after the tour. And it’s good that they also serve native delicious food.

Taal’s heritage cuisine - adobo sa dilaw and suman

Manny’s impressive camera collection is his legacy for the youth of today. It serves as a gentle reminder that a camera will always be a useful gear, especially in times we fail to put stories in words.

And that it’s okay to shoot anyone, particularly those addicted to selfies. 

Galleria Taal Camera Museum
Agoncillo St., Taal, Batangas
Tel. No.: 0918-9124051
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