What with everything happening in the world, international travel doesn’t look like it’s going to be in the cards this year. Even domestic travel by air will probably be very limited.
While most of us have found contentment coccooning in our homes watching Netflix and playing video games, once lockdown restrictions start to ease up, it would be great to get out just for a change of scenery.
Other countries have slowly started to reopen their museums with proper safety protocols in place. Based on experience, most museums in the metro don’t really get that crowded in the first place and the establishments can always limit the number of visitors by imposing specific timeslots and reservation systems.
How about finally taking the time this year to visit museums in your vicinity that you’ve never been to? Aside from the typical history and art museums, there are museums for everything these days, including geeky niche interests and hobbies like toys and games.
Here are a few of our picks of fun museums in and near Metro Manila that you might want to visit after the quarantine.
Marikina is home to a lot of hidden gems and museums that rarely get visited. If you consider yourself a bibliophile, one place you need to check out is the Book Museum. This museum contains a collection of limited edition books and published materials from around the world including one of the smallest books in the world – which measures the size of a thumbnail (3.3×3.3 mm). Visitors can use a special magnifying glass to read the tiny book’s contents.
The quirky museum houses the personal collection of Atty. Dominador Buhain, an avid traveler who amassed his books, magazines, and diaries from his travels to 236 countries. The museum also doubles as a library and Ethnology Center that houses notable artifacts from different regions of the Philippines in the other galleries. You can also find a retro James Dean-inspired cafe on the premises.
The Book Museum cum Ethnology Center. 127 Dao Street, Marikina Heights, Marikina City. Entrance Fee: P300 inclusive of P100 consumable at the James Dean Café.
Museum of Miniatures
Did anyone get into building scale models and miniature houses and villages during the quarantine? If you did, you might want to check out this obscure, kid-friendly museum in Marikina devoted solely to miniatures.
Get a dose of tiny house living at the Museum of Miniatures, with dollhouses, dioramas and shelf displays housing a collection of tiny replicas of furniture and items you’d normally find in rooms of European mansions. The museum contains part of the collection of the late Aleli Vengua, a passionate artist who handcrafted most of the pieces herself from scrap items such as plastic, wood, aluminum, fabric, and glass. Each room and shadow box here is designed with incredible attention to detail.
This compact gallery is hidden right in the Riverbanks complex of Marikina right next to another collection of Nativity Scenes, which are also worth a look.
Museum of Miniatures. 2nd level, E-com Building Riverbanks Center, Barangka Marikina City. Entrance Fee: P75/person.
Presidential Car Museum
Automotive geeks can admire a collection of elegant and historic vintage cars right in Quezon City. The little-known Presidential Car Museum inside the Quezon Memorial Circle is one of the 27 museums under the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). This museum pays tribute to the narrative of past Philippine presidents through these vehicles and other intriguing artifacts.
The restored vintage cars on display here were all used to to transport some of the most powerful people in Philippine history. The museum features 12 beautiful presidential cars as well as other vehicles used by historical personalities such as Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, World War II General Douglas MacArthur, and Malolos constitution author Leon Apacible.
Presidential Car Museum, Quezon Memorial Cirlce Elliptical Road, Quezon City. Entrance Fee: Free.
Yexel’s Toy Museum
Collecting Funko Pop toys, action figures and other collectibles seems to have seen a revival during this quarantine period, as people look for fun hobbies to pass the time.
For years, Yexel’s Toy Museum has been considered one of the most popular toy museums in the country, attracting fans of movies from Star Wars, Transformers, the DC and Marvel Cinematic Universe, anime, and video games.
This museum houses the personal collection of Yexel Fernando Sebastian, an avid Filipino toy collector who started his journey with a simple McDonald’s Happy Meal toy when he was a kid and who has since managed to amass over 50,000 toys and over 1,000 lifelsize statues.
Originally located in a four-story building in Las Piñas, the museum now has two smaller branches including Yexel’s Toy House in Ayala Malls South Park (housing less than a quarter of the size of Yexel’s actual collection) and a 3rd branch within the Manila Ocean Park complex in Manila.
The main branch offers the most eye candy, with rooms exhibiting everything from miniatures to life-sized cartoon, animation, video game and movie-based characters. The main attraction and favorite photo op spot is the 18-foot Optimus Prime bust created by Abet Valdecanto, the largest in Asia. The owner encourages visitors to bring their best cameras for optimal picture taking with the toy displays.
Yexel’s Toy Museum. 52 Sampaguita Rd, Las Piñas, 1740 Metro Manila, Philippines. Entrance Fee: P300 per person.
Tagaytay is proving to be popular with the weekend crowds once again, especially for those based in the south looking for quick getaways.
For kids and kids at heart, the Puzzle Mansion, home of the world’s largest collection of jigsaw puzzles, is always a favorite stopover in Tagaytay in between food-tripping. The museum houses the extensive and ever-growing collection of solved puzzles owned by Tagaytay local and jigsaw puzzle aficionado Gina Lacuna. The former family resthouse was converted into a gallery/museum and bed & breakfast after Lacuna was awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records last November 2012 for having 1,028 solved puzzles.
These aren’t your run-of-the-mill jigsaw puzzles either. The collection contains puzzles with tiny and irregularly shaped pieces, 2D and 3D puzzles, puzzles made of wood, and puzzles recreating famous landmarks around the world. You can also find a framed piece of the largest commercial puzzle in the world (17 feet tall by 6 feet wide) composed of over 32,000 pieces.
Visiting the Puzzle Mansion place may just inspire you to buy your own jigsaw puzzles (there are lots to choose from at their souvenir shop) to take home and solve with the kids during the rest of the weekends spent in quarantine.
Puzzle Mansion, Purok 4 Cuadra, St. Barangay Asisan, Tagaytay City. Entrance fee: P100 per person.
If you’re already in Tagaytay, you might want to take a side trip to Gen. Trias in Cavite to check out the GBR Museum, located within the 180-hectare Gateway Business Park. This museum houses a collection spread over five galleries, mainly offering a glimpse back at 19th and 20th century Philippines through photographic exhibits, antique books, and other memorabilia.
Aviation geeks are in for a treat as the last two galleries within the museum are devoted to aviation history and development told through paintings and aircraft scale models. The “World Aviation History Exhibit" which “traces the evolution of air and space transportation from the Wright Brothers' ‘Flying Machine’ to commercial and combat aircrafts, to NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle.” The exhibit contains 47 colored in-flight aircraft paintings executed by Stan Stokes, an artist from the USA who did similar paintings for the Smithsonian Institute.
GBR Museum. Gateway Business Park, Brg. Javalera, Gen. Trias, Cavite. Entrance fee: P100 for adults, P70 for children and P80 for senior citizens. Foreigners: P250 (adult), P200 (children).
NOTE: Museums are still closed in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) under current IATF guidelines. Entrance fees quoted were pre-COVID and are subject to change.
(Additional photos courtesy of Yexel’s Toy Museum on FB)