It’s funny how parents would go far and wide just to bring their kids to some place magical. Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Splash Island in Binan, Laguna. Ocean Adventure in Subic Bay. But at the heart of Metro Manila, just beside the Manila Ocean Park and opposite the Luneta Park, is a place specifically created primarily for kids — the Museo Pambata.
“Primarily” for kids, yes, but those who are young-at-heart are definitely not ruled out. On the other hand, while it’s true that grown-ups are very much welcome here, I still don’t know what to think of a group of adults going around the place. But you won’t care, would you?
Anyway, I had an excuse, bringing my son to the Museo Pambata on a slow Sunday afternoon. We went early, hoping to be ahead of the line (we thought there should be a line or something) and to avoid the crowd (we though there should be a crowd). So we arrived at around 12:30 noon and immediately noticed groups of kids and adults milling around the gate. We’re late, I thought. Turns out the gate doesn’t open until 1 pm during Sundays.
So, to save you the hassle of coming much earlier that the opening hour, here’s the schedule: Tuesday to Saturday (8-5 from August to March, then 9-5 from April to July) and Sundays (1-5 in the afternoon).
Outside of the Museo Pambata building is a little playground for kids. What makes it “big”, at least in my opinion, is the real Huey helicopter that has been converted into a slide. The building where the Museo Pambata is housed is itself historic, having been constructed in 1910 (left photo, above). This is a typical American architecture at that time, just like the Post Office Building and the National Museum.
There’s a number of scale models at the Museo Pambata, maybe because kids love little versions of everything. Upon entering the building, you’ll be greeted by a scale model of the King of the Road, the Jeepney. There’s the Lencio House, circa 1930, which is a typical middle class house located in Manila (left photo, above). There’s the Bahay na Bato, a typical 2-story residence of upper and middle class families during the early times. There’s the Ifugao house outside the museum.
The Tranvia is found in one room, together with the scale model of the Binondo Church, complete with piped-in mass songs. At the center of the room (just above the manuscripts of the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, novels of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal) are Philippine flags in the process of evolving to its current design. At the other end is the scale model of the Spanish Galleon, the star of what we learned in school as the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.
What about that firetruck? It’s found in the adjacent area, together the scale models of a sari-sari store, fruit stand, rice store, fish stand and the shoe-repair stand.
Almost everything at the Museo Pambata, in fact, are scale models. One of the exceptions is the Giant Piano. The kids could step on the keyboard and make music with their feet (imagine Tom Hanks’ character playing the huge piano in the movie “Big”). Another musical instrument that kids could play is the kulintang. It’s gratifying to know that the Museo Pambata allows kids to handle and play with the “toys”, and not just look at them from a distance. Indeed, as stated in the Museo Pambata website, it’s a hands-on discovery museum for children.
Then there’s the section that I call the “game room”, also known as the “Paglaki Ko” section. Here, kids could play basketball, sweat a little at the wall-climbing, err, wall, and look at a few sports equipment on display.
The adjacent is the “science room,” which is just my label for it, filled with gadgets and tools that should ideally encourage kids to love science. This is where the giant piano is found, together with the Singing tubes (tapping the opening of the tubes with a paddle to produce sound), the Disc-o-Rama (where kids step on the foot pad to activate a pattern), Symmetroscope (kids peep through a hole to see patterns), and my personal favorite, the robot arm (lower-left photo, above). Kids could manipulate the robotic arm to go up and down, left and right, as well as pick up something.
It’s funny how parents would go far and wide just to bring their kids to some place magical. Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Splash Island in Binan, Laguna. Ocean Adventure in Subic Bay. But at the heart of Metro Manila, just beside the Manila Ocean Park and opposite the Luneta Park, is a place specifically created primarily for kids — the Museong Pambata.
There are other sections in the Museo Pambata that are not described here. Maybe we’ll include more descriptions here, but maybe that’s unwise because you may have nothing else to discover when you and your kids go there. The building isn’t as imposing as the National Museum and people, myself included, may regularly pass by the area without noticing the Museo Pambata. But, as they say, appearances can be deceiving. It’s a place where kids could run around and enjoy (at just P100 entrance fee). Go ahead, go to Museo Pambata.