Born on February 26, 1924, Porforio Cata-al is now an aging man who survived the grim episodes of World War II. With a peculiar interest in the war that so shaped and changed the lives of many people like him (some unfortunate enough to have lost their loved ones), Porforio began his collection a little at a time until it became vast enough to fill his home which he now fondly maintains as a museum.
The American – Japanese encounter brought about many pieces of interesting items that proved their existence in the province. The Cata-al War Memorabilia includes among other things, burnt remnants of an American militia uniform, ancient military armament, Japanese and American currency in notes and coins – all left behind by the fleeing as well as the conquering forces who once claimed the land. Perhaps the eeriest of all are the human skulls lining a shelf. They were dug up in the nearby mountains and believed to be casualties of the said war.
The Cata-al War memorabilia is housed in a rambling structure made of stone, owned by Porforio Cata-al himself. Upon reaching the main entrance from a winding driveway, one is promptly drawn to a scruffy military jeep parked conspicuously at a side. A Japanese soldier in uniform sits on the passenger side and stares at you behind dark glasses. It is upon closer inspection that you realize it is only a dummy shaped from a stuffing of cotton and foam. And yet it effectively renders a chilling memory of that war prompting the imagination to run through what-might-have-been scenes.
Porforio Cata-al is one who would gladly take you on a tour of his collection while holding on to his walking aid. He always has a thing or two to say about every piece he owns. His son has helped him in the operations of the museum and in the sourcing of authentic war memorabilia to add to his collection. For a very minimal entrance fee, anybody is welcome to browse through.
The Cata-al War memorabilia can be found in the town of Valencia, Negros Oriental. From Dumaguete City, it takes a brief ride by rental car and van. Porforio Cata-al is one of the most popular personalities in the town so getting directions to his museum is never hard. Another way to get there is by public transport usually a minicab that charges less than P30.00 which will take you to the town center unloading point. From there one can ride a trike to drive you to the museum.
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