The Philippines, with its diverse towns and colorful history, has many heritage sites and museums scattered in major towns and cities. A visit to any of these places is an excellent way to get a glimpse of the unique cultures and backgrounds of the Filipino peoples. Read on to learn about 7 museums worth spending hours (or days) exploring with family and friends!
- The National Museum of the Philippines
Over the years the National Museum of the Philippines has evolved from being a repository of artifacts into a four-building complex in the City of Manila. At present the museum has four main divisions: the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, and the National Planetarium. Each building has its own main attraction; the National Museum of Fine Arts houses The Spolarium, an award-winning piece by the 19th century painter Juan Luna. The National Museum of Anthropology has an impressive collection of artifacts dating back from pre-colonial days, and also holds events for the Philippines’ ethnolinguistic groups. The National Museum of Natural History and the Planetarium host interactive galleries and exhibits designed to introduce the wonders of the environment to visitors of all ages.
- Metropolitan Museum
Also located within the City of Manila is the Metropolitan Museum, which houses another collection of artifacts collected from all around the country. Of particular interest here is the goldwork collection, which testifies to the intricate craftsmanship of the Filipino tribes prior to coming in contact with Western civilization.
- Ayala Museum
Right in the heart of Makati City’s Central Business District is the Ayala Museum. This sleek building houses modern art galleries as well as a collection of artifacts in gold, jade and other precious stones. The most impressive exhibit is the diorama walkthrough, which takes the viewer across Philippine history leading up to contemporary events. Mixed media dioramas are complemented by murals and videos, giving a new meaning to a walk down memory lane.
- Syquia Mansion Museum
Vigan in Illocos Sur is known for its heritage houses, particularly on the picturesque Calle Crisologo. A well-kept residence open to visitors is the Syquia Mansion, which was once the home of former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino. A tour here is a trip back in time as well as a study in anthropology because of the house’s unique features. The Syquia Mansion showcases elements from Filipino, Chinese, and Spanish influences, a testament to the rich past of Vigan and its old families.
- Camiña Balay nga Bato
Another museum situated in an old house is the Camiña Balay nga Bato located at Osmeña Street Barangay Sta. Felomina, Arevalo, Iloilo City. Visitors can glimpse of the lifestyle of well-to-do Ilonggos during the Spanish colonization and appreciate the well-preserved features of the classic ‘bahay na bato’. Unlike other museums wherein eating and drinking are taboo, this house serves culinary delights such as freshly made molo soup and rich, thick tsokolateala batirol.
- Basilica del Santo Niño
Taking part in the Sinulog Festival? Learn more about its background and heritage by visiting the Basilica del Santo Niño’s museum, located in the complex’s Pilgrim Center. This museum houses memorabilia from members of the clergy, as well as a repository of documents, sacred icons, and other religious treasures. Visitors can also learn about the story of the image of the Santo Niño and its role in the history of Cebu, which forms the heart of the province’s greatest fiesta.
- Museo Dabawenyo
In the heart of Davao City is the Museo Dabawenyo, also fondly referred to as “The People’s Museum”. This museum houses splendid galleries showcasing the history of Davao City and its environs, and the rich culture of its people. Of note are the galleries dedicated to the lumads, Davao’s indigenous tribes. This museum is continually being updated to keep up with the increasingly colorful story of Davao City.
These are only a few of the many museums that tell the story of the Filipino people, or at least a part of it. We hope these 7 selections will whet your curiosity and prompt you to visit more heritage sites all around the country.