There is nothing I enjoy more than visiting a place where I can learn new things. Did you know that we have a book museum here in Metro Manila, and that it’s actually the first one in all of Asia? And did you know that its owner is one of the most well-traveled people in the world?
The Book Museum cum Ethnology Center is located in Marikina City and is owned by Atty. Dominador Buhain, chairman of the Rex Group of Companies which includes Rex Publishing and Rex Bookstore. He has also been named the 29th most-traveled person in world, having traveled to more 200 countries. More than anything, he is an advocate of continuous learning. The two-storey museum essentially showcases his book collection, all of which he purchased from his many travels.
I visited the museum with a couple of other bloggers last Saturday, April 16. Upon entering the museum and seeing the humongous collection classified into country and genre, I honestly found myself wondering, “What on earth would people get out of looking at some guy’s book collection?”. Museum supervisor Sherleen Bautista instantly answered my question as if she read what was in my mind! Turns out that these books are available for public use!
THE BOOK MUSEUM AIMS TO CULTIVATE FILIPINOS’ LOVE FOR LEARNING THROUGH READING, WHILE THE ETHNOLOGY CENTER WILL HELP INSTILL IN US AN APPRECIATION FOR THE CULTURE OF PHILIPPINE ETHNIC GROUPS.
It is located at 127 Dao Street, Marikina City. Entrance fee is Php 100 and you have the option to get a tour guide. If you ever drop by the museum one of these days, here’s what you can do there:
1. READ, OF COURSE! If you’re a student, you can do research here as there are tons of material available for you. If you’re a mom, you can bring your kids here because there’s a children’s section. If you simply love reading and learning, this would be a nice place to lounge around and hang out in.
2. CHECK OUT THE COLLECTION OF MINIATURE BOOKS. Here you’ll see the smallest book in the world and a collection of itsy-bitsy versions of Shakespeare novels.
3. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CORDILLERA AND THE MUSLIM FILIPINO CULTURES AT THE ETHNOLOGY CENTER. The Cordillera wing was my favorite part because I’ve always had an interest Cordillera culture, the only culture in the Philippines that is free from foreign influence. The Ethnology Center features more Cordillera artifacts than the National Museum so there’s really a lot to learn here. The clothes and costumes, the art, the tools, the rituals and old practices — you’ll see them all in the center’s Cordillera wing. There is also a Morong wing where you can learn about the equally-fascinating lifestyle of Muslim Mindanao. Renowned professor Ike Picpican was the curator of the Ethnology Center. He also curated the St. Louis Museum in Baguio City.
Museum is open everyday (including Sundays) from 8:00am to 5:00pm. I’d like to thank Sherleen Bautista (Museum Supervisor) and Jorzell Virtucio (Business Development Manager) for a fun afternoon!
Let me end my entry with something I saw at at facade of the museum which I found rather touching. There’s a statue of Atty. Buhain’s parents whom the museum is dedicated to. The dedication reads:
“The Book Museum is dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Juanito F. Fontelera. Mr. Fontelera, during his childhood days, was deprived of shoes. He went to school without the same. In later life he bought many shoes. Coincidentally, Marikina’s predominant industry is shoes which therefore explains the abundance of shoes, as part of the statue’s design. Behind the success of a man is a woman, Mrs. Jovita Fontelera.”
The stepfather of the most well-traveled man in the country grew up poor. It’s remarkable how hard work, a good education, and the drive to continuously learn can uplift our lives and the lives of the generations to come.
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