Manila’s pioneer interactive children’s museum stays ahead of the curve with engaging exhibits and activities for kids, parents, and educators alike.
Museo Pambata rings quite a bell for Manila locals, and rightly so. The brainchild of Nina Lim-Yuson, an early childhood educator, visited the Boston Children’s Museum in America during the 90’s and dreamed of putting up a similar place back home for Filipino children. Nina took note of how her 4 children had enjoyed themselves while trying out the museum’s hands-on exhibits. Upon returning to Manila, she took it upon herself to take the first steps that would lead to creating a team (and a very supportive Board of Directors) that would bring her Museo Pambata to fruition. We could say Museo Pambata (MP) set the stage for other children’s museums to start being put up around the Metro. Despite their appearance, MP manages to remain head-shoulders-and-hips-high over water by staying true to its nationalistic roots. All in all, Manila is a much more kid-friendly place thanks to the variety that all these institutions provide as a collective group.
The colorful section that is the Storyteller’s Corner
Museo Pambata’s new Storyteller’s Corner is a welcome addition to the museum’s Paglaki Ko (Career Options) theme room. The theme room is part of 8 theme rooms that co-habitate within the Museo, the other 7 being: Kalikasan (Environment), Maynila Noon (Old Manila), I Love My Planet Earth, Katawan Ko (My Body Works), Pamilihang Bayan (Marketplace), Bata sa Mundo (Children in the Global Village), and Karapatan Hall.
Since Museo’s opening in December 1994, the Old Manila Room and the popular Pamilihang Bayan Room remain largely unchanged, but provide young ones a chance to look into their native culture and history. The latter proves to be Museo’s most popular (according to their visitor surveys) because children are free to engage in imaginative scenarios in a marketplace setting.
The Paglaki Ko room enjoyed its own overhaul last July 26 with the addition of the Storyteller’s Corner, whose aim is to show the Museo’s young and impressionable guests that becoming a storyteller, or “kuwentista”, is a relevant and respected career option today.
The July 26 launch had live storytelling sessions featuring Ms. Gagatiga (accompanied by Jay Gomez, musician), and a joint storytelling performance by Bodgie Pascua & JK Anicoche
Beside other enterprising professions (both in the Museo and in the outside world), writers and illustrators can now tell stories in fewer characters and reach more audiences in one click. Improved access to modern mediums of expression came with the big surge in the use of the Internet and social media.
Allowing children to see what it takes to pursue various careers, MP is continuing on its path of trying to provide an answer to “What can I be when I grow up?”. They provide children with interactive activities that will keep their spirits up as they discover a bit more of themselves along the way.
The Science Room (taken in 2011)
The Storyteller’s Corner is set with a storytelling stage, mirror wall, a big book, and a viewing area. There are many generations of children have been influenced by their school trips to the Museo (myself included), and it’s wonderful to see that they have done well to keep up with the times.
Aside from pushing for the development of all sides of the child’s mind, Museo Pambata (MP) also started developing programs that focus on broader topics, i.e. child’s rights and disaster preparedness. These programs are also brought outside the walls of the Museo: MP has held and participated in numerous workshops in and out of the country. A gleaming example is the MP’s initiative in putting up the Asian Children’s Museum Conference. The conference aims to gather professionals of different backgrounds to discuss topics on children. Now called the Asia-Pacific Children’s Museum Conference, its 4th installment is slated to be in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Museo holds many events for their visitors every month, and this September they kick-off targeted activities in preparation for the annual Children’s Art Festival. Art For All, An Inclusive Child to Child Children’s Art Program is reminiscent of last year’s Kwentong Pambata: Para sa Bata, Gawa ng Bata, which was part of the Creative Writing session that the MP held for participants during last year’s Art Fest.
Last year’s Arts Fest celebration included activities that covered these 5 branches of Art: Dance, Music, Visual & Theater Art, and Creative Writing
This year, however, Art for All desires to address the lack of artistic and creative opportunities for children in extreme poverty. The venture’s originality lies in the fact that child facilitators, not adults, will be reaching out to the child beneficiaries.
The impact: children who know how to care for and respect their fellow children. The project will then be documented, and published as a handbook/manual on child-to-child approaches to art, which can help create modules on art education for children and for adults in the child education industry.
MP keeps its event calendar full with appearances from notable guests: like French painter Henry Lamy (for Feb’s Arts Month), and crochet artist Aze Ong held her first biggest exhibit at Museo’s Karapatan Hall (for Women’s Month).
Teachers are reminded that they are always welcome to enter the Museo for free during museum hours, as long as they are able to present their PRC and School ID. However, with September being National Teacher’s Month, teachers can enjoy an additional 5% discount on all MP products (at the Pasalubong Giftshop), as well as a free gift when they visit.
With Museo Pambata giving us a hundred-and-one reasons to visit for the coming –ber months, it seems a perfect excuse for families to come and have a truly enriching experience while enjoying one another’s company.