VARIOUS depictions of the iconic Nativity scene ranging from belen and painting reproductions are displayed in Misteryo: Ikaw at ang Pasko at the Miguel de Benavides Library. The exhibit opened last November 13 and will run until December 22 when it will close for the Christmas break. The exhibit will resume next year on January 3 and run until February 2.

Many of the belen icons come from the collection of Gloria Ocampo-Reyes and originated from various countries such as Australia, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Russia, and Spain.

They were not only crafted from the usual ceramic, wood, porcelain and resin, but also from unconventional materials such as polymer clay, foil, tin, fabric, and paper.

A belen from Japan has all the characters garbed in traditional kimono. Another, coming from the Philippines, has the Holy Family and other characters wearing the barong tagalong and the baro’t saya.

Carved from a wood panel, a belen from Spain depicted the Nativity scene in an open stable. Two angels sit nearby, joyously watching the birth of Christ. Veering away from the usual image of the Holy Family, a belen made in the United States features the different scenes of the Nativity enclosed in a star-shaped frame.

Reyes said she loaned her collection to the UST exhibit so that “more people can appreciate it.”

“I want more people to get into the spirit and realize the true meaning of Christmas…the gift of sharing, the gift of loving and the gift of sacrifice,” she said.

Aside from Nativity tableaus, the exhibit is also displaying the Book of Hours, which became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. The centuries-old book is essentially a Christian devotional book that contains prayers and psalms, with each page made out of vellum and printed using egg tempera. The book was believed to have been made around the 1520s.

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Professor Regalado Trota-Josa of the UST Archives said that the exhibit was the perfect opportunity to display the book for the first time and share it to the public. The Book of Hours, he said, is the only one in the country. He added that it was not clear how the Archives acquired the book.

The exhibit also featured the paintings of Fra Angelico, the Italian Dominican Renaissance painter. Beatified by Pope John Paul II, he is now more known as Beato Angelico and is the patron saint of artists.

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