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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Afternoon At The Museo Pambata

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

Ever since I was a child, I've always been fascinated by museums. Grand or one-roomed, filled with art or mummies, they've always been a source of fascination and entertainment and never a chore whenever a tour was organized by our school.

It was this fascination that brought me to bring my youngest son MAX, to the Museo Pambata for an afternoon of learning fun. 

Situated along Roxas Boulevard, corner South Drive is a compound that houses the former Elks Club Building of the early 1900s and at present, the Museo Pambata of Manila (Children's Museum of Manila).

Opened in 1994, this museum joins both the old and the new through various mediums and is HIGHLY interactive! 
Our very own "Pambansang MAX"
Where to Begin:
As our visit was unplanned, I only had a cellphone for taking pictures. Bring a camera. You will have nice photo ops in this place. Food is also not allowed inside.

For big groups, one may start by checking out the Museo Pambata website here. For an impromptu visit, please take not of the museum's schedule:

Tuesday - Saturday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM (August to March)
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (April to July)
The museum is open during lunch hours.
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
The museum is closed on Mondays and other official holidays.

and admission fees:

*Museum workers and teachers with valid ID, streetchildren, infants - FREE
*Tour groups of thirty (30) or more can avail of a special discount

So What's In There?
Maynila Noon:
When we dropped by the museum, there about five exhibit rooms in the two-storey structure. The first exhibit we saw was Maynila Noon (Old Manila) which featured turn of the century Manila.
Binondo Church
like a giant doll house,  pull the front  and voila!
you are now inside the Binondo Church
A detailed, miniaturized Binondo Church, with all it's saints and majestic decor,
Bahay na bato
Antique crib inside the bahay na bato
Bahay na Bato (stonehouse) and it's life sized furnishings (see above for pics), from antique typewriters, to  a beautiful yet somehow creepy crib, old clothes and  even a wooden sled (how and where this was used in the Philippines remains a mystery to me :P)
the sled

here's wondering how much prose and poetry this typewriter's seen
uber vintage...The Terno
La Puerto del Sol catered to Manila's elite  and sold goods
imported from Europe, America and the Middle East
La Puerto del Sol's store front - Manila's ONLY department store in the second half of the 19th century, along with some curio items that may have been displayed at the store's window.
porcelain dolls, a man riding a horse drawn carriage made
 entirely  of cloves and silverware, among others
On board the MERALCO Tranvia
A life sized replica of a portion of the 1905 MERALCO Tranvia is also around for you to ride on, with springs under it to simulate movement. Very much like San Francisco's cable cars, the tranvia was the first electric railway in the country, whose tracks ran around Old Manila. 

Mediocre explorers MAXellan and  de BalboAYA
A replica of a Galleon, or the renowned Spanish trade ship, is prominently placed near the entrance. For the curious, though closely associated with Spaniards, much of these ships were built by Filipino laborers in shipyards located in Cavite and Manila. From 1565 - 1815 these Galleons sailed from the Philippines to Acapulco, establishing the first global trade between trading ships. 

Where's the horse?!!!
The Old Manila exhibit also features the ff.: a Calesa (Filipino horse drawn carriages), stuff from our trade with China (porcelain vases, ancient abacuses, etc.), 
one thing hasn't changed: this item is:
Made in China
an art corner and a tribute to the Philippine Revolution (portraits of our national heroes with phones where you can hear them talk about themselves, the revolutionary flags, and a copy of Jose Rizal's thought provoking El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere ). 

Admittedly, I am a history geek :)
Melchora Aquino: now that's old school Girl Power!
There's also a wall dedicated to kids who were hailed as heroes in their own right/ I got a bit tearful reading their stories. You're never too small to achieve great things or to young to risk or give up your life for what you believe in. 
Bravery and heroism incarnate in little packages
I clearly enjoyed the Old Manila part of the museum and would love to go on and on about it, but would spare you the ordeal. Up next, the second floor exhibits:
I've got a big mouth! (I can hear my family snickering at this caption)
Katawan Ko (Body Works)
As the name suggests, this exhibit is a great way to learn about what goes on in your body. Eye catching, interactive body parts and catchy signs make our bodily functions kewl!  From farting sounds, a crawl in a digestive track, a gigantic pumping heart, this room will make you see the human anatomy in a new light!
Couldn't get MAX to crawl in ...bummer!
Eeew but true :)
Pamilihang Bayan (Marketplace)
This brought back memories of me playing Tinda-tindahan  (Store-store) as a child.  A mini marketplace is recreated  complete with plastic vegetables, fish, etc. One can even put on traditional Filipino wooden slippers (known as bakya) and bring woven baskets to enhance the child's imagination.
why couldn't they have had this place when I was a kid?!
 Paglaki Ko (Career Options)
Various costumes and props to let your little one know and feel that he can be anything he wants to be as long as he puts is mind (and heart) into it.
would have donned the whole suit, but  didn't have the time
When I grow up, I want to be a writer!
there's also a portion where you can try on costumes from various countries
the ceiling of the I Love My Planet Earth exhibit
I Love My Planet Earth
Of course, learning isn't complete without learning about Mother Earth. Ecology, conservation, waste management, climate change and other environmental issues are put into focus here.
tips and messages on how to help
save Mother Earth fill the room
This could just be the room with the strongest message. After all, we never know the worth of water till the well is dry.  Woe is the day when we wake to find out that we're too late. 

I'd like to dream that one day our kids won't have to fight to save our planet because we taught them well. Hopefully, the next generations to come would get a chance to enjoy this beautiful blue orb we call home. 

MAX and  a cow pondering the concept of a carbon footprint
a moon rock on loan from the US and delivered by no less than
Pres. Bill Clinton in 1995
Of course a museum just won't be a museum without works of art. Here at the Museo Pambata, you will not be disappointed with the whimsical paintings (both done by adults and kids alike) that dot the place.

By the way, the museum is also handicap-friendly as an elevator is available for those who need it. As for those who would and should walk up, a short flight of stairs is the only thing that separates you from the displays above. 
these stairs won't kill you!
God bless him and all the other Ninongs and Ninangs for
  making the Museo Pambata a great place to be at

the museum's gift shop contains affordable souvenir items
as well as educational toys and art materials
At our tour's end:
 an old helicopter, turned into a  slide/jungle gym may be found outside the museum
Our two hours at the museum went by so fast, that before I knew it, it was time to meet up with Phil for dinner. I learned a lot, MAX enjoyed the interactive exhibits (even if he missed out on nap time) and most of all, we had fun.
will bring a step ladder next time :p
After all, it's not everyday that you get transported back in time, enter a human body and find out what makes it tick or be a doctor, a fire fighter or enter a cool play marketplace! Highly recommended for parents with school age kids, history buffs, and museum lovers.

Somewhere in Time...
Oh, and by the way, there's a minimal parking fee which you would have to pay upon exiting the compound, just so you know.
Till my next entry, from TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

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