The Juan Luna Shrine: Badoc’s hidden gem

LA BULAQUENA. Literally meaning u0022the woman from Bulacan,u0022 this portrait of a woman wearing a Maria Clara gown is one of the few paintings of Juan Luna that depict Filipino culture. Photo used with permission from Lili Ramirez (marilil.wordpress.


MANILA, Philippines - The town of Badoc in Ilocos Norte is quiet and unassuming, but it is no less interesting and exhilarating than hotspot tourist destinations in the province like the Bangui Windmills, St. Augustine's Church, Malacanang of the North and Paoay Sand Dunes, among others.

Badoc is the birthplace of the illustrious master and patriot Juan Luna. 

His ancestral home has been turned into a repository of his masterpieces and some personal memorabilia, as well as antique household items that remind visitors of its occupants' lifestyle during its time.

As such, the town draws visitors that find pleasure in historical tidbits, arts, vintage collections and untapped tourist attractions.

The Juan Luna Shrine  

The Juan Luna Shrine is a two-storey structure made of clay bricks and molave wood. This restored ancestral home of the Luna clan is itself a life-sized historical artifact that speaks of affluence and classic elegance.

The first floor is where the treasure trove of collections is categorically displayed, while the second floor is divided into 4 sections: the living room, the bedroom, the chapel and the azotea. 

INSIDE THE SHRINE. For a museum with no entrance fee, itu2019s quite surprising to see this two-storey structure well maintained. Donations are accepted, though. Photo used with permission from Lili Ramirez (marilil.wordpress.


A few things that represent Juan Luna’s brother, General Antonio Luna, are also displayed in the shrine. These include his sword and uniform and the letter he wrote to Leon Apacible. 

Like old edifices, the Juan Luna Shrine's vintage touch evokes natural charm. 

Highlight of the visit

ENSUENOS DE AMOR. The lady in this oil on wood painting is Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera, Lunau2019s wife whom he killed by gunshot because of jealousy.

Photo used with permission from Discovering the Old Philippines: People, Places, Heroes, Historical Events on Facebook

Juan Luna's paintings in the shrine are merely reproductions, yet none of them fails to do its purpose – that is, to arouse sympathy for our country and to inspire hope. 

His award-winning obra maestras like the Spoliarium, as well as the grand paintings he was obliged to make for the Spanish government after being granted a pensionadoship like The Battle of Lepanto and The Blood Compact, all represent horrific realities about our colonial past — from unredeemed humanity to prejudice, from fanaticism to injustice.

And the fact that he used his brilliance and talent to gain Filipino self-respect and pride — not only for himself and his fellow nationalists but also for his countrymen — through his art makes it hard not to feel immense respect for this Filipino genius.

THE PARISIAN LIFE. According to studies, the lady in the painting represents the Philippines because its silhouette mirrors the shape of the Philippines and its relationship with its colonizer, the Spain.

Screen shot from the news coverage of NBN Ylocos teledyaryo

Not to mention that he poured his passionate, impetuous temperament into every brush stroke, and presented it through heroic-sized canvasses to achieve a sweeping and compelling effect.

This style, coupled with profound symbolism, lent itself to the patriotic needs of his contemporaries, including Dr. Jose Rizal.

To quote Eric Torres, author of "The Art of Juan Luna" which was published on the website of the National Commission for Culture and Arts:

“To his fellow-nationalists, he grew into a symbol of the best his race could offer. In the short span of less than twenty years, Luna was much aware of his role as a leading standard bearer of his countrymen – and he burned his candles at both ends.”

Other side of Juan Luna

EL VIOLINISTA. Manuel Luna, like his brother Juan Luna, was also gifted with artistic talent. The first was a violinist, and the second, a painter.

Photo used with permission from Discovering the Old Philippines: People, Places, Heroes, Historical Events on Facebook

The visit to the shrine also provides a glimpse to the other side of Juan Luna, the man who paints for the joy of it. Thus, a side simpler and perhaps more vulnerable but as interesting as the more formal Juan Luna nonetheless.

The portrait La Bulaquena depicts his being romantic; the boy with a broken violin string his stubborn sense of realism. 

It goes without saying that Juan Luna’s personality and ideology are stamped on his canvases. Hence, learning about his paintings could be the shortest way possible to know him as a distinguished man, a patriot and as an individual.

A visit to the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc can make that possible, with a bonus feeling of leaving the shrine a little overwhelmed probably because of awe and a revived sense of nationalism.

Original copies

SPOLIARIUM. Antonio Dumlao, a Filipino artist that specializes in art restoration, was commissioned to give this obra maestra a facelift after it was sliced into 3 parts because the Spanish government had to ship it as a gift to the Philippines. Photo used with permission from Lili Ramirez (marilil.wordpress.


Here is the list of Juan Luna's paintings and the museums that house them today:

a. Spoliarium, 1884

c. La Bulaquena, 1895

2. Ayala Museum, Makati City

a. Lady at the Racetrack, 1880

b. La Marquesa de Monte Olivar, 1881

3. Eugenio Lopez Memorial Museum, Pasig City

a. El Violinista, 1876

b. Espana y Filipinas, 1886

c. Ensuenos de amor, 1890

d. Una Chula II, 1885

THE BATTLE OF LEPANTO. This Juan Luna painting is one of the magnificent collections of paintings that hang in the wall of the Senate Hall of Spain. Photo used with permission from Lili Ramirez (marilil.wordpress.


4. Malacañang Palace, Manila 

5. Senate Hall, Madrid  

6. Museo de Prado, Spain

7. Personal collections

a. Legarda Mansion, Manila: Untitled painting of a woman in black dress

b. Rosalinda Orosa Collection: Tampuhan, 1895

c. Don Luis Araneta Collection: Odalisque, 1885



Mavic Conde is a web content writer based in Bicol. She travels to tell stories about the joys of journeying, interesting cultures and places, and unique personalities. Recently, she joined Bicolandia magazine, a local publication that aims to promote tourism in Bicol.