Tucked away in the quiet neighborhood in Marikina is a surprised treat for all the book lovers out there. The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center houses a wide assortment of books from 221 countries (and still counting). It also preserves unique collection of artifacts from the Cordilleras, Visayas and Mindanao.
Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center
Occupying a 900-meter square lot in Marikina, The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center is divided into three buildings. The first one contains the book collection with the second and third buildings housing the artifacts from the Cordilleras (North Building), Visayas and Mindanao (South Building).
Mr. Dominador Buhain
The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center is actually a personal collection of a fellow travel enthusiast, Mr. Dominador Buhain, who had visited 221 out of 325 countries (including independent territories and islands geographically separated from the main country) as listed by Travelers’ Century Club making him as one of the most traveled people in the world.
Why a Book Museum?
Maybe it’s not so usual for a book to be bought as a travel souvenir. But Mr. Buhain’s family is the founder of one of the oldest and leading publishing and printing houses in the Philippines, Rex Book Store. I personally know Rex since most of the books I used in school came from them. Being a certified book lover and an avid traveler myself, I was stunned to see Mr. Buhain’s collection. I actually asked myself while touring around why I haven’t thought of getting books while I travel. But I do buy bookmarks! Maybe I can build a bookmark museum someday? (I know you’re laughing at me, hmmp!).
As I enter the museum gate, the first things that caught my attention are monuments and murals. Later when our guided museum tour started, the two made much more sense to me. The monuments are built in honor of Mr. Buhain’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Juanito Fontelera. The murals, on the other hand, are hand painted by a renowned Filipino artist, Leo Aguinaldo, that narrates the origin of publishing and printing in the Philippines and in the world.
5 Collections You Should Not Missed
There are a lot of unique finds at The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center. Below is the list of specific items I consider most interesting. You may also not want to miss them if you happen to visit the museum one day!
1. Limited Edition Books
The first building as I’ve mentioned contains the book collection. They have these so-called Country Shelves where books are grouped by country where they were bought. Aside from the collection per country, some are organized according to a particular genre like travel and law.
Among these collections are limited edition books. And from these limited editions, some of my favorites and which I also have a personal copy are Think and Grow Rich, The Little Prince, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is actually the most favorite book of Mr. Buhain. According to our museum guide, if you’re going to ask him for a book recommendation, he will first suggest Think and Grow Rich.
The Little Prince and Harry Potter are some of my favorite books when I was in high school.
Another interesting book you may notice is the Doctrina Christiana Explicado (Christian Doctrine Explained). Doctrina Christiana is believed to be one of the earliest books printed in the Philippines which is about the Roman Catholic Catechism.
2. Miniature Edition Books and Items
I guess the miniature items found in the museum are crowd favorite. The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center actually has the smallest book in the world, The Lord’s Prayer, which was written in seven languages. It was printed in Gutenberg Museum and has a size of 3.3mm x 3.3mm, .
Miniature edition of The Little Prince can be spotted which was bought in Italy. There is also a mini collection of William Shakespeare’s 40 books obtained in Frankfurt, Germany.
Also acquired in Frankfurt, Germany is the smallest calendar and diary.
3. North Building Collection
The North Building contains precious artifacts from the Cordilleras. The Cordillera culture is very special to Mr. Buhain because for him, it reflects the Filipino culture at its purest, without any trace of foreign influence.
The entire collection shows almost all facets of the everyday living of the Cordillera people. Some of the items that caught my attention are Lungon or Wooden Coffin (same as Sagada’s hanging coffins) from Benguet, the wooden statue replica of an Igorot head hunter and a work of art from Baguio depicting the God of Rice.
4. South Building Collection
The South Building houses rare artifacts from Visayas and Mindanao. The most interesting things I find here are traditional Maranao house and chess set and a collection of personal items used by a royalty from the South (including a real gold crown.)
5. Totem Poles Showing Philippine Mythology
Within the premises of The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center are totem poles illustrating Philippine Mythology. When I was a child, I was fascinated with Philippine Mythology creatures like “Kapre”, “Mananaggal” and “Dwende”.
Museums always encompass so many things more than I can ever comprehend. A treasure box of culture, arts, history and people, I know I will never be able to completely foretell its magnificence in a piece of article. The case of The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center is no exception. If you are a book and Philippine culture lover, you will greatly find a lot of fascinating items here. I dare you to see the place for yourself!
- There are free museum guided tours you can join for you to better appreciate the collection. The guided tour schedules are as follows: 9AM,, 10:30AM, 1PM, and 3PM. But you can opt not to join one if you feel like walking around by yourself.
- The Book Museum serves as a library too because reading is allowed. There is an area allocated if you want to stay in the museum to read. You just ask assistance from the staff for the books you want to read.
- You can also conduct your research in the place. You just have to pay an additional PHP25.
- Brining of books outside the building is strictly prohibited. Photocopying is allowed and they have a machine.
- Make sure you check for directions when going in the museum because it’s a bit hidden in the quiet neighborhood in Marikina. But it’s easy to ask people there for directions because it’s popular around the area.
- Photography is not allowed inside the three buildings. But you can take photos in the outside premises where the monuments and totem poles are located.
- Unless you’re going to read, you can finish touring the three buildings for two hours.
Money to Burn
How To Get There
Disclosure: I attended this tour courtesy of Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center. Nevertheless, I wrote this article with my own insights influenced by my personal experience.
Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center
Operating Hours: Mon – Sun, 9AM-5PM
Address: 127 Dao Street, Marikina Heights Marikina City
Contact Details: (02) 570 4449