“I knew that man during my younger years. When I see that bust, I can still imagine him speaking to me” said Pastor Hermie, our guide for that day as we ventured to the farther south regions of Culion Island on a motorbike. He was referring to the grotesque bust figure greeting visitors of the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archive after a flight of stairs to the 2nd floor. Just the thought that the figure was an actual leper sent a chill on my spine as I imagine his mummified figure. Stories such as this is common in Culion Island, whose present inhabitants are one way or another are 2nd or 3rd generation descendants of the thousands of leprosy patients who lived on the island. Its hard not to talk about the leprosy stigma that has befallen Culion when visiting the island and a good starting point to learn more about it is a visit to the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archive within the General Hospital compound.
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.
There’s a curious little icon on the map of an old fort. It meant that there’s a historical site, sitting on the north eastern side of El Nido, just right smack in the town of Sibaltan. I would ask some people in El Nido town but not many people know about the significance except my landlord where I’m staying. “There’s a Balay Cuyonon Museum there you should see. It tells all about the history of the place”. When we got settled in Sibaltan’s Guard House, our caretaker, Bulanday led us to the grounds of the museum situated by the beach.
When in Melaka, it’s not enough to admire the many shophouses lining up in Jonker Walk. There are several shophouses turned museums in Melaka that it’s worth walking inside one of them to get a deeper insight on Melaka’s history and culture. One that I would highly recommend visiting is the Cheng Ho Museum found near the tail end of Lorong Hang Jebat before the bridge. With a floor area spanning 55,000 square feet, occupying about 8 units of old shophouses dating back to 1786 and three floors of artefacts, it is considered as the largest museum in Melaka.
While Imee Marcos was speaking about tourism and Ilocos region during lunch at Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center, I can’t help but feel the affinity I have with the Marcos Family. No I’m not in any way related in blood nor do I glorify whatever late president Marcos did. But growing up with parents who were Marcos loyalist got to me, more so that I’m named after the president with the same birthday. That’s why Ilocos Norte has that soft spot. And visiting places where the Marcoses used to live was like visiting a distant relative.
I was careful not to step into the water getting as close as possible to capture my subject. It was early morning and the light was perfect. The placid water only interrupted by the slow moving boat while a gentle mist lifts up on its surface. A boy, probably at least ten in age, sitting on the edge of the lake signature narrow boats was tending the nets. It’s a familiar scene on this part of the world known as Lake Sebu, yet a welcome and relaxing sight for a city dweller like me.
Our coach sped through the scenic lights of Macau-Taipa bridge coming from Macau Central. It didn’t take long before we stopped and alighted our coach again. Joao led us to a waterfront park with steel benches by the lake. Afar we could see the towering buildings of the City of Dreams at the Cotai Strip. Despite the dimness it was nice scenery. I could sit down on one of those benches and just space out.