One of the things that I did during my free-time (meaning weekdays when JG is at work and I’m too lazy to do chores) was visit the National Children’s Museum or in Filipino “Museong Pambata”. Just like the Rizal Park and the National Museum, these are the places I neglected to visit before we left for post. But because we live near the DFA I have no excuse, because such places are like one jeepney ride, minutes away.
I have vague memories as a primary school student about visiting a place for kids, but I’m really not sure if this was the same place. As I am not sure, I decided why not visit. It’s a small old building just right beside the US Embassy in Roxas Blvd, an old historical place that was originally the location of the Manila Elks Club built around 1910. The original building was destroyed in the war, rebuilt in the late 40’s, and was turned into the Museum in 1994.
It’s mostly an interactive kind of Museum, with themed rooms, that is meant to help kids get into History, Economics, Science, even in the environment and the possible career options in the future.
It was an interesting visit for me, since I considered it a psychological exercise to see if my inner-child is active and well. Of course I wasn’t planning on acting like an over-curious, sugar-hyped toddler, but it was fascinating how I considered the exhibits, as a 30 year old.
The Maynila Noon (Manila in the past) is the history part that shows some exhibits on culture, turn of the century features, etc. There’s a miniature version of Spanish era inspired home with antique furnishings, an old tram, and a small-scale of the Manila Cathedral. They said kids can dress-up in historical costumes for a more memorable experience, but the interactive part is where the kids can learn about our National heroes. I wasn’t really sure about the approach though, because displayed are big pictures of said personalities and in front of each portrait is a landline phone where you would pick up and hear recorded voices of the heroes telling you about them.
There weren’t many kids when I went, but the few that were there, did not have the patience to listen to a weird sounding guy over the phone talk about himself. As an adult thought it would’ve been much better if you could actually have a conversation with them. I would’ve totally flirted with Jose Rizal over the phone like a teenager playing phone pal with her older crush. Of course I do have serious questions, like if it the rumor was true that he wasn’t really all up on the revolutionary ideas of most the his other counterparts in the room.
My seven year old version would have found it cool to get a chance to get inside a huge gapping mouth and explore the insides of a human throat in the Anatomy/Science room. However 30 year old me who has grown to dislikes people who talk to you while they are chewing, or worst while they’re foaming in the mouth mid-toothbrushing (sic), finds it gross. I also would like to suggest that this would be a perfect place to teach kids about gender sensitivity and reproduction, but I’m not really sure what the proprietors of the place’s stand on that issue.
In contrast little me would not have batted an eye at the greenhouse of plants outside, but my grown-up version who hates the fact that she does not know the names of half the greens she cooks and eats and is now considering aesthetic options for future landscaping endeavors sure found the place highly informative and useful.
The market place area would be fun place to take your kids and teach them about everyday stuff. Or if your kids are a bit more advanced you could take the chance to teach them about supply and demand, or the pros and cons of starting your own business in the Philippines.
There’s also the Paglaki Ko (When I Grow-up) Room, a great place to get a feel of what your little ones would be partial to when they go for a chosen career path. I can imagine JG shaking his head should our would-be children incline to go towards the artsy, unstable, no-benefits available, kind of work.
But I did find it truly awesome to have seen an originally manuscript of a story-telling bit in Batibot (this is the Sesame Street version of my generation in the Philippines). Not only did it speak to the frustrated writer in me, but it was also interesting for a Mass Communication degree holder such as myself.
The Environment part seemed a bit vague to the interpretation, but I believe this area is where taking part of the tour comes into play. It really isn’t much if you would just be walking around but the interactive and educational aspects of it I think would really come together with the Museum guide’s presentation.
I wasn’t sure what they meant to say, but one part was thought-provoking in showing the difference of how kids played before compared to present day. One side showed a room with computers and the media related stuff kids do for fun today; on the other side are traditional toys like the Sungka. On the floor is painted, “Ganito Sila Noon” (This is how they were before).
Another confusing part of me is the “Children in the Global Village”, which is supposedly meant to show different kids of cultures from all over the world. The funny thing is most of the stuff in room are mainly Singapore in theme. Nothing against Singapore of course, it’s just that what happened to the other 140-plus options?
The Children’s Right’s section is just a big wall that shows all the important rights of kids, like the right to a name, an education, and the right to be safe and free. But the area I think is used to hold special talks and exhibits. The museum is also open to hold parties and other activities for a fee. Which I think would be a good alternative for a unique venue. But I word of caution though, my cousin had his son’s party there and rumor has it that their charge isn’t on the competitive side. But hey, your little one’s special day would certainly be different, not to mention educational. If also visit on the third Saturday (I think?) you will also get a chance to watch the Bayanihan dancers (Cultural/traditional Dance group).
So it was all in all a really good way to spend two hours, and I highly recommend that you do as I did and find out how you being a grown-up with all the worries and responsibilities of being an adult balanced on your shoulders would find a place made for the simple and innocent minds of children. Whether or not you are the very least in-touch with your inner-child if you find the Museo fun or interesting; or if you’d completely transformed and hardened from experiences and hardships that for some people believe aging brings inevitable.
If you’re sure that you’ve turned into the latter, I don’t think being that way is something you can’t turn-off, for an hour or two, why not?