I met a few travelers who likes to collect items they find meaningful and unique when visiting places. Some would collect coins, some ref-magnets, others would be a coffee shop mug. For Atty Dominador Buhain, co-owner of the popular text books and law books printer, REX Bookstore, his fascination with books led him to keep any literature he would encounter throughout his travel across 211 countries in the world and the 76 provinces in the Philippines. To house his collection, he built what he calls the Marikina Book Museum and Ethnology Museum. It certainly piqued my interest when I found out about it. Being a book lover myself, I’m interested to see what he has on his collection.
A Travel Collection
There were interesting totem poles featuring Filipino mythical creatures and folklore at the yard as we entered the compound at Marikina Heights, they were made of old electric poles no longer used. A third Cordillera-themed totem pole was recently added. The Book Museum facade was definitely an eye-catcher depicting the history of book printing from the early Buddhist scriptures from 868, the Doctrina Cristiana in 1593, the baybayin scripts, Tomas Pinpin (the first Philippines printer) of 1610, the book publishing act and some key books that made a name to REX Book store. The huge mural was painted by renowned visual artist from Baguio, Leo Aguinaldo. First time I saw this in pictures I thought they were embossed as it looks very much 3D.
Inside this 2 story building, there’s a wall-to-wall shelves of literature from each country he visited. It’s an interesting collection but it would have added interest if there were stories behind them on why he found them important as some were just collection of inflight magazines, brochures and flyers. The centerpiece for me is one of the World’s Smallest Book, Das “Kleinste Buch der Welt” from Germany measuring 3.3×3.3 milimeter printing the Lord’s Prayer in 7 languages as well as the miniature smaller-than-palm-sized books of Shakespeare’s works. Aside from those, other curious items were the thickest book and longest book in display. Molded feet sculptures can be found around the museum as these are replica of some of the board members of the REX Bookstore company. The giant foot in the middle is a replica from Atty Buhain’s foot.
The artifact contained in the Ethnology Museum section of the area impressed me with some unique ones like the Tabayag lime containers made from civet cat paw (and other animals) or bone marrows which I haven’t even seen in some museums like Bontoc. Most of the items here are from the Cordillera region, some from the Mindanao area. Professor Ike Picpican, the curator of St Louis Baguio Museum gave authenticity and rationalization to the items in this museum. A few items in particular, the headhunters’ trophy with base, the Tudoh (Wands of sorcery and vengeance) adorned with skull and feathers used by Mumbakis are rare items that can only be found here. There are less than 500 items in the collection here which, I was told is only 1/4 of his whole collection. This certainly was an unexpected highlight of the museum for me.
The Marikina Book Museum and Ethnology Museum is found at a 900sqm property inside Marikina Heights. The museum just opened last March 2013 and I find that there are still a lot of room to improve on. Like the sequence of the exhibit and some details on the items on display to make it more meaningful and not just a showcase of personal collection. But I’m glad that there’s another venue for learning here as the museum proponent encourages travel to learn and experience the world around us, as symbolized by the foot on their museum logo. An added attraction to the wonderful city of Marikina.
Have recently visited the museum March 2018. There are new areas of development. Additional pieces at the exhibit at the at the Ethnology Museum. The Cordillera and Mindanao exhibits are now at separate buildings. The new DDD building also holds impressive collection of athromorphic stones found at Gigantes Island. The upper floor displays an extensive collection of hats/headwear from around the world. If you haven’t been here for a while, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon in Marikina.
Location: 127 Dao Street, Marikina Height, Marikina City
Museum Hours: Tuesday to Sundays 9am-12nn and 1-6pm
Entrance Fee: Php 100/pax for a group of 5. Php 80 for senior citizens, students, researchers and Marikina residents.
For Contact and Reservations: (632) 570.4449
Email: [email protected]
Photography is allowed only at the yard area not inside the museum.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.