After-Yoga Learning Trip to the Book Museum cum Ethnology Center in Marikina

Feeling relaxed and a bit Zen-ned from the yoga session we had at the Community Fitness in Pasig, myself, Christine and Ferdz—who was also our Yogi teacher that morning—decided to do some urban exploration. “I have a barber appointment in Marikina plus a friend is inviting me to try out the James Dean Café, you can come with me” Ferdz told us. So, off we went to the city known for its shoe industry, city-wide bike lanes and a thriving food scene.

the entrance to the  Book Museum cum Ethnology Center in Marikina
Groovy sighting near the entrance of the Book Museum 

My first time in a Book Museum

After our stop at the barbershop for Ferdz’ haircut, we proceeded to the James Dean Café—Pornhub viewers, Dean is different from James Deen alright—which was named after the 1950’s Hollywood idol who starred in classic films such as East of Eden, Giant and a Rebel Without a Cause before a car accident took his life at a young age.

Lively murals near the entrance of the Book Museum
Turns out the café is owned by REX Bookstore founder Mister Dominador Buhain, and located next door to it, is a Book Museum housing a stunning collection of rare volumes spanning genres of World literature.

Printing press at  Book Museum cum Ethnology Center in Marikina
An old printing press machine is also displayed in the Book Museum
According to one of the staff of the Book Museum who also stood as our guide, Mr. Buhain opened the museum in 2013 because he wanted to share his collections of books collected from his worldly travels. A life of endless journeying that took him to at least 215 countries in the world and all of the provinces of the Philippines. It has become a habit of his—an expensive yet fulfilling one—to score a rare book as one of his travel souvenirs.

First edition Harry Potter book. Photo courtesy of Travel Habeat 
The entrance to the museum was already popping with visual pleasure. There is a statue of Mr. Buhain’s parents standing atop a stack of concrete books and a wall featuring a stunning spread of vibrant murals depicting Marikina's several landmarks and cultural symbols—painted by distinguished Filipino artist Leo Aguinaldo—leading to the entrance.

Miniature books and other limited edition collections

I am a proud book junky and if ever I have any material things I’d bring in a tiny home by the beach, it would be my the titles stacked on my shelves. Imagine finding myself inside a book museum, reading titles that says first edition and even the ones that are too small to read. Indeed, because Mr. Buhain’s impressive collection includes miniature books.

Miniature Shakespeare book at  Book Museum cum Ethnology Center in Marikina
"Each substance of a grief has twenty shadows" - King Richard II. Miniature Shakespeare books
Among the tiniest books you can see here are the Lord's Prayer printed in Gutenberg Museum and all of 3.3 mm x 3.3 mm in size, the smallest edition of The Little Prince and a collection of William Shakespeare's 40 published works all in their miniature editions. 

Another tiny book. 
Other limited and first edition copies includes Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Doctrina Christiana—considered as one of the earliest books printed in the Philippines and several more.

The smallest book in the world. The Lord's Prayer
The smallest book in the world. This is the Lord's Prayer book

The Ethnology Center’s Cordillera artifacts

After being wowed by the Book Museum’s worldly collection of literature works, the guide led us next door to another fascinating room. This time, another museum doubling as an Ethnology Center focusing on the history, culture and people from the Cordilleras and Southern Philippines, awaited our eager minds.

A wooden carving depicting an Ifugao Head Hunter
Inside, one can see an impressive set of Cordillera and Southern Philippines artifacts—which includes numerous 7th-10th century stone sculptures found in Gigantes Islands. The guide told us how these items displayed are very important for Mr. Buhain to impart to visitors. "He wants more people to learn the culture of the Cordillera people through these artifacts devoid of foreign influence".

Levy Amosin and Gretchen Filart playing chess
An old Maranao Chess Board
There's a life-sized Lungon or the Wooden Coffin prevalent in Sagada back in the old days when the locals used to bury their love ones on hanging coffins. There are also a collection of necklaces, head crowns, and other body aesthetics worn by the feared Igorot Head Hunters of many centuries past.

Levy Amosin and Celine Murillo playing knives out
Old knives used by the Maranaos
The manner to which Mr. Buhain collated all these historical and cultural items reminds me of similar meticulous curating done by Don Ado in his family’s museum at the Villa Escudero. The Southern Mindanao collection displays the weapons, jewelries and clothing worn by the royalties of various tribes in Mindanao.

Aph Cruz of Gigantes Island shows of sculpted stones
There at least several dozens of prehistoric sculpted stones discovered in Gigantes Islands displayed at the Ethnology Center
On our way out, a rack caught our attention. Colorful headwear and hats not only from the Philippines but, from all over the world are displayed. Caps, bonnets, sunhats, fedoras, trilbies, boaters, you call it what you want, it’s all there in different shapes and colors.

World hats Book Museum cum Ethnology Center
Just some of the many worldly hat collections inside the Book Museum cum Ethnology Center
The three of us; me self, Christine and Ferdz agreed that this Book Museum cum Ethnology Center in Marikina is a much underrated place that more people should know about. The amount of information housed inside its walls are astounding and may serve valuable knowledge not only to young students, but to grown-ups as well.