National Museum of Anthropology (Formerly Museum of the Filipino People), Manila

There are many things to do while at Rizal Park in Manila. If you’re a history buff like me, then visiting the museum is a must!


With it’s tall, white-washed Corinthian columns and wooden doors, the grand-looking Museum of the Filipino People is hard to miss. Part of the National Museums of the Philippines, it houses the anthropology and archaeology divisions, spanning five floors (only four are open). Entry was PHP150 (RM15), which also allowed us access to other museums (Planetarium and National Art Gallery).


It was close to empty on a weekday, so we had the place to ourselves (Hence, the above mucking around for photos. Don’t worry, we didn’t touch anything). There were tours going around, conducted in Filipino. Food and drinks were not allowed inside so we had to leave our bottled water somewhere.


A section of the museum was dedicated to artifacts recovered from the sunken San Diego galleon. A Spanish trading ship built in Cebu and supervised by European boat-builders, it was hastily converted into a warship against invading Dutch troops in 1600. But because it was never built for fighting and there was too much stuff on board, the ship listed and sank without firing a single shot.

The ruins were discovered 400 years later in the 1990s about 50ms deep outside of Manila Bay, and massive efforts were undertaken to retrieve and conserve artifacts onboard. The ship had been sleeping, untouched for centuries, with many of the items still intact. (Above) Some jars and urns used to store food/water/other essentials for the more than 300+ men onboard the San Diego.


An old Spanish-style helm. Idk why but they remind me of chickens. Some of the artifacts still had bits of coral attached to them.


Exhibit detailing how the Spaniards came to the Philippines and spread Christianity – which is prevalent throughout the islands today. More than 90% of the population are Catholic.



The Philippines was a rich, trading outpost – carrying everything from spices and exotic wares to ivory. 


Chinese carvings, beads, amulets and bracelets carved from ivory. Poor elephants   20160205_104826-tile

A smaller section of the museum was dedicated to the preservation of local plant and small wildlife/insect species. This included a showcase of dried and pressed flowers and leaves, preserved butterflies/beetles, and



Pickled lizard. My worst nightmare. OMG LOOK AT THE ONE AT THE BOTTOM IT IS SMILING EVILLY


There was a nicely lit chamber with stained glass and chandeliers. After the gloomy dark of the exhibit area, this was like an ‘intermission’. A colourful, graffitied part of the Berlin wall (gifted to the museum by Germany) sits in the middle.



Moving on, the exhibits had more local stuff, explaining to visitors on the local cultures and customs of the Filipino people pre and post-Spanish era. I was fascinated by this titty jug oddly shaped urn that seemed to have nipples.


Perched on top of burial urns were small figurines of men in boats. This reminds me of the River Styx in Ancient Egyptian lore.


Statues of heads. Their odd features and aesthetics convinced the fiancee further that ancients were, in fact, aliens. 😀


Bags and containers used by local tribes.

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There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ethnic groups in the Philippines – with their own beliefs, cultures, art and history. They still live a way of life free from Western influence, so researchers study them to gauge how life was like before colonization.


One thing is for sure – them tribes sure have an amazing fashion sense. Vibrant colours and patterns were embroidered onto their clothing, emphasised with funky beads every hippie/hipster would die for.

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Traditional musical instruments


Anthropologist Professor E, explains.

“Here is a flying grasshopper hippo hybrid, carved from centuries old wood and considered a guardian of the galaxy.”


The ancient Filipino text, or ‘BayBayin’. 


Rice is a major staple in the Phils (they eat rice with everything!) so it’s no surprise that they had a section dedicated to that as well.


Traditional textile machines. The cloths produced reminded me a lot of the Pua Kumbu by Malaysia’s Iban community.

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We wandered around downstairs where the research labs are and was greeted by this. 😀 Someone has a sense of humour.


Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines

Open: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Free admission on Sundays.

Ticket prices: 150PHP (Adults), 50PHP (Students)



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