Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016
The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center



Enjoying a tour of Marikina City can be done in so many ways. I did mine via The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center's "Book + Food" promo which had me savor home-cooked Filipino dishes for lunch at Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe and recharge for late afternoon snacks at Bubba Lab. In between was a 1 to 3-hour guided tour at the museum and everything happened within a short distance of participating destinations in the charming village of Marikina Heights. The neighborhood, after all, used to be one sprawling hacienda and the presence of a museum is a modern accent that's more than just a glossy attraction. It's a sanctuary for wisdom where visitors can actually read books from open shelves and even do research.

Having learned from my group's tour guide that the 900 square meter establishment is owned by Atty. Dominador Buhain, chairman and president of the REX Group of Companies, I found it sensible that someone of his stature in the publishing industry has decided to open a museum. It was noble of him to share a portion of his personal collection to the public after being cited in 2010 by the Most Traveled People Organization the accolade of being one of the most traveled persons in Asia.

The hand-painted mural of the museum's facade
Spacious even with the large collection of books
A building that houses the ethnology center next to the James Dean-inspired cafe
The Baybayin-decorated entrance of the book museum

One of The Most Traveled Persons In The World

To date, he has far exceeded the minimum requirement of 100 countries by the Travelers’ Century Club of which he's a member. He has visited 221 countries so far and he's determined to visit 104 more that include islands and territories that are independent, making him one of the most traveled persons in the world!

Explored The Philippines First

The fact that he first weaved through the whole Philippines as a young man before venturing abroad at age 21 to tour other countries hit a soft spot in my personal advocacy of exploring my own country first. Walking through the structure that houses various books collected from his world travels, I got the sense of being in the right direction.

A wooden statue depicting the ritual of collecting human skulls
Attractive Facade and Inviting Interior

I just got past the interesting museum facade where a couple of murals depict the rich history of printing and publishing in the country on one side and in the world on another. Done by world-renowned visual artist Leonard Aguinaldo of Baguio City, the entrance to the book museum was an attractive statement. Inside, the space is crisp. Almost immaculate. The setup is spacious and not intimidating given the copious number of books on display. Like an altar where books of different sizes, categories, and subject matters are enshrined, the interior welcomes natural light beaming from the ceiling center down to a massive foot sculpture made of marble. It turned out that it was formed from the likeness of Atty. Buhain's right foot which he deems as symbolic of his aspiration to travel. The unusual center-piece from Romblon seems to mimic the replicas of the museum owner's favorite pairs of shoes that can be spotted across the entrance outside.

The massive foot sculpture made of marble from Romblon
Maranao crown and handkerchief

Here are three interesting aspects of the place that you can appreciate for a guided tour soon:

1. Extensive Collection of Books You Can Read From Open Shelves

Although the books are behind glass panels, they can be accessed by visitors straight from the shelves once something interests them like a beverage behind a see-through fridge of a convenience store. Here, displays can be freely read. A full-on research can also be done for an additional fee other than the standard P100 admission fee (P20 less for senior citizens).

2. Rare Collection of Personal Books and Mementos On Display

At the second floor of the book museum, visitors can find a collection of special and limited edition books ranging from an old bible that scholars used for translations of its other versions to a set of super tiny books.

3. Fascinating Collection of Northern and Southern Philippine Artifacts

Serving as the establishment's ethnology center are two buildings that welcome visitors from the main entrance gate.

At the left side of the property, particularly at the ground floor, is the building that houses the owner's personal collection of well-preserved artifacts from the Northern Philippines. As a curator of the St. Louis Baguio Museum, Ike Picpican lent his expertise in giving authenticity and rationalization to the displays that include the owner's favorite finds from the Cordillera Region. Obtained from a period in Philippine history's past when there were less rules about owning salvaged articles and whatnot, the collection is touted to have more rare pieces that define the ethnicity of this specific region than other museums in the country.

The interior of the building that houses the Southern Philippines artifact collection
The personal collection at the second floor of the book museum; (top center and right) Various books
A chess-like game mat from Southern Philippines

At the right side of the property is the building where visitors can find similarly rare souvenirs that the collector managed to have from Southern part of the Philippines. From a unique chess-like game mat to an ornately decorated set of ancient weaponry, the collection will not fail to fascinate even the modern city dweller who's stuck in electronic tablets and fancy gadgets.

The James Dean Cafe

Book Publishing Industry Development Act

We have a lot to thank Atty. Buhain for when it comes to our country's printing and publishing heritage. Being the proponent in fighting against the monopoly in the industry which led to the legislation of several policies that include the Book Publishing Industry Development Act or Republic Act No. 8047, the development of the book publishing industry has taken shape through the formulation and implementation of a National Book Policy and a National Book Development Plan.

With the presence of The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center in Marikina City, the shoe capital of the Philippines finally added a fitting attraction that redefines its image. Kids and adults can visit for travel stops at the museum and then find inspiration to explore the world after the guided tour. Life can be fulfilling in any order.

The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center

Official website of The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center

Address: 127 Dao St., Marikina Heights, Marikina City, Philippines
Phone: (02) 570-4449

Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe

Check out my Book + Food promo tour of Marikina City:

Dining at Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe
Snacking at Bubba Lab

Check out my other Marikina City blog posts:

On Foot In Marikina City
Dining At Yohel's Bagnet Station

More Photos Below:

The interior of the building that houses the Northern Philippines collection

(top left) The lizard-top design of a Rice Container; (bottom left) The Cordillera sun god; (right) The Kaleleng Player


  1. Pwede po ba magdala ng dslr or phone sa loob? Thank you!


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