Hello, Museo Pambata!

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 One of Akira’s favorite stories is The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone. This story enjoyed a good rotation in our household, where she requested to have this story read for several nights in a row.

It was no surprise that on one Saturday, when we told her we were going to a museum, she got very excited and looked forward to looking for the ‘missing dinosaur bone’.

Unfortunately, we don’t have museums like in that story in the Philippines – but our little star had a great time in this museum all the same. This was our family’s first ever visit after all to Museo Pambata in Manila.

Lunch first!

We started the day off with a hearty meal at a classic Manila restaurant, Cafe Adriatico.

This place is a virtual museum in itself, well preserved and maintained for 37 years and counting. Most importantly, the food is still good as well.

Welcome to Museo Pambata

The first thing you’d see inside is the huge whale hanging on the ceiling.

After paying the admission fee, it’s time to explore!

This is in the Old Manila exhibit room. The mini replica of Binondo Church is like a huge doll house, a kid can fit inside.

Next, we went up to the ‘I Love My Planet Earth’ exhibit area.

Her favorite part is where the old kitchen appliances are, where she played house.

The exhibit area she loved best of all however, has got to be the Marketplace or the Pamilihang Bayan. This is where kids can pretend play to their heart’s content in accurate and very Filipino settings. There’s a carinderia, a pharmacy AND a watch repair shop setting – super Pinoy!

We stayed here a long time. She sold bread, fruits and was a fireman.

We managed to squeeze in a Dr. Seuss story inside the library, before making our way down and out the building. She was looking forward to playing outside and going down the slide, but as you can see, she did a double take as it was too hot.

Areas of improvement

This visit made my head whirl with ideas. I believe Museo Pambata has all the potential to go head-to-head with establishments like Kidzania and the indoor play areas in malls. It can start by focusing on its The Marketplace exhibit. It’s such a big hit with children Akira’s age where they can spend hours on pretend play.

But the museum also needs to invest on higher quality toys, props and costumes. Not everything needs to be made of plastic – the realistic steel pots and kitchen utensils in the carinderia setting is a good example. Wooden toys are all the rage, local artisans can be tapped for those. Not only will materials like these last longer, they also look so much nicer in pictures. And that’s the other thing with these kiddie establishments these days – they should make for great photo ops!

The Museo Pambata management can take a look at what commercial places like Kidzania and Kidzoona are doing, and apply what they can to the museum. Some areas can be sponsored, for instance, as long as the branding is strategic. Some areas meanwhile, are simply in need of a renovation, like the ‘I Love My Planet Earth’ exhibit and the mini garden. Wouldn’t it be amazing if kids can see all the vegetables from Bahay Kubo as plants?

As somebody who loves comics, it’s sad to see the Paglaki Ko (When I Grow Up) exhibit on writers and illustrators looking colorful and interesting, but kind of lacking in interactivity. Everything is just up on walls to read.

I also agree with my husband’s observation that some of the exhibits could really use a child’s perspective. Maybe the museum can divide the exhibits according to age brackets? This way the grownups can have a clearer idea on what exhibits would be more appropriate and enjoyable for their child.

Visit Museo Pambata today!

While Museo Pambata could really use generous sponsorship and a competitive marketing plan, a day spent here is still one of the best memories you can have together with your child. From the bottom of my heart, I believe it has what it takes to be a world-class children’s museum.

It’s possible that some families and parents have a negative impression of museums (museum = boring) so it’s the last thing they think of when it comes to a family bonding destination, but once they give Museo Pambata a try like we did, I’m sure they will realize that Museo Pambata isn’t that kind of museum at all.

There are areas for improvement certainly, but it doesn’t mean to say that we didn’t enjoy our visit. On the contrary! We stayed until closing time. This won’t be the last, Museo Pambata!

Museo Pambata is located along Roxas Boulevard corner South Drive, Manila

Call them at +632 523 1797 or 98

The museum is open on Tuesday to Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm,

and on Sundays 1 pm to 5 pm

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