Do you miss traveling and going to museums? The Book Museum and Ethnology Center in Marikina announced that they’re finally reopening on July 18, 2021 (Sunday) at 50% capacity. This colorful and quirky museum offers an interesting visit for book-lovers and avid travelers. The museum contains a collection of limited edition books and published materials from all around the world, including travel artifacts from different regions of the Philippines.
The Book Museum also houses an Ethnology Center focused on Philippine culture. Ethnology is a branch of anthropology that deals with races and peoples, their relations to to one another, their origins and their distinctive characteristics.
With the recent showing of Trese, the anime adaptation of the Filipino graphic novel which features creatures from Philippine folklore in the modern world, I think people might be interested to visit the Book Museum because it also contains a unique collection of items related to Philippine folklore, mythology and culture.
The Book Museum cum Ethnology Center is hidden in a quiet residential neighborhood in Marikina. You can find this museum along 127, SE Dao, Marikina, 1810 Metro Manila.
- Persons below 15 years old, senior citizens who are 66 years old and above, with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, or pregnant women will not be allowed except those who have completed their COVID-19 vaccines (please present vaccination ID)
- Group with 10 or more persons should have a reservation at least two (2) days prior to visit.
- No face mask and face shield, no entry
- Masks and shields should also be worn properly at all times to avoid the spread of virus.
- Guests should accomplish a health declaration form upon visit for contact tracing as per DOT and DOH.
- Disinfectant mats should be used at every entry point to avoid contamination within the premises.
- Body temperature is required. People with 37.6°C and above temperature will not be allowed to enter the premises and shall be isolated.
- Guests should maintain 1-2 meters distance at all times.
- Touching of artifacts is prohibited.
The Book Museum, founded in May 2013, displays the personal collection of Atty. Dominador Buhain, the Chairman and President of Rex Bookstore, one of the largest book publishing companies in the Philippines. Atty. Buhain is an avid traveler and collector, and the museum houses all the books, magazines, and diaries he amassed from from his travels around the world.
Not only has Buhain been to all 81 provinces of the Philippines, he’s also been to at least 273 countries around the world (and counting) as well as 408 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, collecting artifacts along the way.
The museum aims to revive the love for reading among Filipinos and encourage a younger generation to explore the world through the printed word. Murals outside the museum show the history of the printing press and books.
The main gallery houses the collection of books, magazines, diaries and other published materials arranged by country in alphabetical order. While many books are modern, there are a few antique and century-old books on display including one of the earliest books printed in the country about Roman Catholic Catechism.
The museum doubles as a library, with one space devoted to those who just want to stay and read. To prevent damage, books may be read only inside the museum and can’t be taken out. Most books are displayed behind glass shelves surrounding a gigantic marble sculpture of the owner’s foot, which symbolizes the owner’s traveling lifestyle and “setting foot” in different destinations.
One of the most interesting displays here is the rare collection of miniature books. Visitors can try reading one of the smallest books in the world. You’ll need a special magnifying glass to read The Lord’s Prayer, since it measures just the size of a thumbnail (3.3×3.3 mm).
You can also spot the smallest tablet which contains a Chinese poem, a mini collection of William Shakespeare’s 40 books from Frankfurt, Germany, and a tiny edition of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry bought in Tokyo, Japan.
Beyond just books, other galleries like the Annex, Cordillera Display Area and Mindanao Display Area house impressive collections of artifacts related to Philippine culture, history and folklore.
The museum contains one of the biggest gongs from Cotabato, traditional tribal attire, a collection of salakot (traditional wide brimmed hats), and rows of pre-historic stones from the Gigantes Islands.
Interspersed with the historical artifacts are displays, sculptures, and woodcarvings related to Philippine folklore sourced from around the country. The Tikbalang-themed chair showing the half-human, half horse creature from Filipino lore on display is from Paete.
The depiction of the creature with six mammary glands that lives underground and is said to eat rats and humans was purcased in Surigao. There are also woodcarvings of creatures like the Engkanto and Dwende on display.
This section of the museum also contains a collection of Agimat or Anting-Anting, the Filipino system of magic and sorcery that makes use of talismans, amulets, and charms.
The Cordillera Display Area contains various bululs, the carved wooden figure used to guard the rice crop by the Ifugao (and their sub-tribe Kalanguya) peoples of northern Luzon, along with wooden coffins, traditional weapons and implements used by Mumbaki (native shaman), and accessories adorned with teeth and hair. The guided tour gives visitors an overview of rituals like mummification, headhunting traditions and more.
The Mindanao Display Area houses similar intriguing artifacts from the islands of Mindanao including replicas of traditional Maranao houses, personal items and crowns used by royalty, weapons, woven textiles, chess sets and more.
In the outdoor section of the museum, you can find a Marikina Historical Pathway that shows popular landmarks and symbols of Marikina City like Kapitan Moy, Science Museum, San Roque Church, and Marikit (the fairy godmother of Marikina).
There are also a few totem poles depicting other creatures from Philippine mythology like the manananggal, dwende and Nuno sa Punso. The artwork, murals and statues around the museum provide colorful photo ops for visitors especially kids.
The Annex contains event spaces which can be rented out for school field trips, gatherings and events. The area includes the “The World” Lounge and “The Wave” Conference area.
The Annex also contains a Microscopic listing of REX publications on its walls. There’s also enclosed area for events and school field trips with large paintings of maps of the world on the floor.
At the end of your museum visit, you can also stop by at the 50s-themed James Dean Café right on the premises.
While it doesn’t really seem to fit the theme of the other sections of the museum, it’s an interesting pop culture destination café in itself.
Apparently, James Dean is the museum owner’s favorite actor, so this cafe houses the posters and other vintage memorabilia he collected during his travels.
The café offers a variety of American diner-inspired food like burgers, banana splits, milkshakes and more. Be sure to check out the Peter Pan-themed bathroom, which has its own collections and Neverland paraphernalia on display there.
- Monday – For the safety of the guests, the premises will be disinfected every Monday so they won’t be accepting guests.
- Open from Tuesday to Saturday – Walk-in guests are welcome. They will be accepting guests from 9 am – 4 pm.
- Sunday and Holidays – You must have a RESERVATION at least two (2) days prior to your visit. Walk-in guests are not accepted.
- P200 per head for the galleries (breakdown: P40 for Book Museum, P30 for Cordillera Display Area, P20 for Mindanao Display area, P10 for Marikina Historical Pathway, P100 for Annex)
- Optional: P100 consumable voucher at the James Dean Café
Book Museum cum Ethnology Center, 127 Dao Street, Marikina Heights, Marikina City.
- Address: Book Museum cum Ethnology Center, 127 Dao Street, Marikina Heights, Marikina City
- Ideal for: school field trips, history buffs, introverts
- How long will it take to visit: 1-2 hours including snack