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.

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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).

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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.

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Country Shelves

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.

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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.

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(c) Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center

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.

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Country Shelves (Alphabetical Order), Books Grouped Per Country

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.

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Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Old Edition

The Little Prince and Harry Potter are some of my favorite books when I was in high school.

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The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (Limited Edition)

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K Rowling (First Edition)

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.

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Doctrina Christiana Explicado

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, .

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The Lord’s Prayer, Smallest Book in the World

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.

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The Little Prince (Miniature Edition)

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The Little Prince (Miniature Edition)

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Mini Collection of William Shakespeare’s 40 books from Frankfurt, Germany

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Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Miniature Edition)

Also acquired in Frankfurt, Germany is the smallest calendar and diary.

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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.

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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.

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Lungon or Wooden Coffin

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Wooden Statue Replica of an Igorot Head Hunter (Photo beside the statue is the actual image of the head hunter.)

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4. South Building Collection

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Traditional Maranao Chess

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Replica of Traditional Maranao House

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Real gold crown used by a royalty in Mindanao.

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Personal items used by a royalty in Mindanao.

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.)book-museum-marikina31

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”.

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There’s More!

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!

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Insider Tips

  • 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.

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  • 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.
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Smallest tablet from Sichuan Province in China.

Money to Burn

  • PHP100

How To Get There

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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
Website: https://www.facebook.com/BookMuseum/

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13 Comments

  1. Reply

    ROBERT LEE

    April 21, 2016

    Hey! I like and I would like to visit this soon! Book lovers should! There’s one thing I didn’t like, putting stickers on the glass panels with the name of the country. Those panels could have been free of stickers and a small note could be placed inside, right?

    • Reply

      Arrianne Guzman

      April 22, 2016

      Yes, book lovers should! Maybe they put huge stickers so the labels will be easily noticeable? 🙂

  2. Reply

    Joanna

    April 21, 2016

    Those tiny books are simply adorable. I remember buying one from Arequipa, in Peru, from a book fair. It’s a tiny tiny book about cats. I found it to be lovely. 🙂

  3. Reply

    Bettina Bacani

    April 21, 2016

    This is the first time I’ve heard of this! And Marikina’s not even that far! I hope more people take the time to visit museums and other educational places like this one. Thank you for posting about it and helping increase awareness. I’m definitely adding the Book Museum to my list! 🙂

    • Reply

      Arrianne Guzman

      April 22, 2016

      Hope you can visit soon, Bettina! 🙂 You will for surely enjoy the place if you’re a book lover and Philippine culture enthusiast 🙂

  4. Reply

    Dominic Barrios

    April 22, 2016

    Wow this is just in Marikina? This is awesome.. I loved everything except for those totems. It’s freaking me out.

    It’s surprising that you were allowed to touch and read the books. Some of them were really old right?

    When I saw Shakespeare’s books, I just drooled. Hope to visit there one time.

    • Reply

      Arrianne Guzman

      April 22, 2016

      Good question, Dominic! Actually for a regular visit, guests will not be allowed to touch most of the limited edition books which is understable because some of them are deteriorating already. Our guide even told us that it’s really hard to preserve and maintain the old ones. I was just able to take photos and touch them during the bloggers’ event that they facilitated. But I guess even without touching, you will be fascinated already to see the books. For the regular books, you’re permitted to read them naman 🙂

  5. Reply

    Alison

    April 22, 2016

    This is my kind of place! Even just the first picture and I was trying to make it bigger so I could see all of the books. I could spend hours here. The limited editions would be amazing to look through. I want that Harry Potter book! I love that you can go on a guided tour. I would love to do that and get all the ins and outs of the books!

  6. Reply

    sabine

    April 22, 2016

    Museums always have something magical. Especially museum with old books. Old books are usually written by people from the old times. That’s why it’s even more historical. The museum is too far from sweden, but otherwise I would love to go there. http://www.sofarsosabine.com

  7. Reply

    Dunja

    April 22, 2016

    Wow!! Those exhibitions are amazing! First one gotta be my fav, all those books are designed so beautifully. I wish i could visit every single exhibition, but i’m far away from Philippines..

  8. Reply

    Klaudia

    April 22, 2016

    Oh wow , some of these books are real treasures ! I like old books . The whole inside of the museum is so impressive , I believe you must have had a very exciting tour around there . What really remarkable is to me is the fact how they present these old figures and antiques in such a modern architecture . Very unusual .

  9. Reply

    Neri Ann

    April 25, 2016

    I was also aiming for this event because I am just near that place maybe one jeepney ride away. It is always a pleasure to discover museums like this which is also a great way to discover new things by our new generations.

  10. Reply

    Raffa

    April 25, 2016

    I don’t think you realise how happy this post actually makes me. I love books, so I spent a whole lot of time drolling over your pictures. I know that this sounds really.. hum, common? But you did a glorious post! Brilliant!

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