Officially opening to the public in May of 2018, the National Museum of Natural History in Manila has since seen long lines at its gates. Housing five stories of curated galleries of preserved fauna and flora are the old building and courtyard of the Department of Finance. Metro Manila Chapter of Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI), under the Secular Humanist Advocacy Development & Education (SHADE) program, gathered the HAPI kids in the morning of August 24th for a memorable, guided tour of the new museum.

Tree of Life

The museum’s iconic Tree of Life, an infrastructure that serves as elevator and centrepiece of the old courtyard, welcomed the HAPI kids with its towering height that stretches up to the rainforest canopy-inspired roofing. Hanging wide on the courtyard walls are paintings on canvas of three animals endemic to the Philippines: the tarsier, the eagle and the water buffalo. At the foot of the Tree of Life is a replica of Lolong, the gigantic crocodile of Agusan Marsh fame in the early 2010’s. Lolong passed on while in captivity by the local government.

Pantheon of Knowledge

Every storey showcases an aspect of the natural world — from animal kingdoms and thematic environments to realistic installations. Under the management of the National Museum of Fine Arts, the new museum complements the public galleries of the National Museum of Anthropology which stands right across the expanse of Rizal Memorial Park. HAPI kids marvelled at the taxidermy used to give the animals a lifelike effect, and the passion used by the interior designers to give the public a very immersive experience in each gallery.

Child’s Play

Before the museum visit, the HAPI kids enjoyed some two hours of fun time at the adjacent public playground. A landmark that has transcended generations of children in the capital, the playground saw the August 2018 program of Kids Nutrition Campaign where the kids had generous servings of freshly baked pan de sal and homemade menudong baboy (Filipino-style pork stew). The early morning fun time was intended to develop physical activity and close ties among the HAPI kids, their foster guardians and the teen volunteers.

Until its first free Humanist school is built, HAPI commits to continue developing advocacies that promote the well-being of the common Filipino, regardless of political and religious backgrounds. SHADE shall continue to be an agent of secular education in the Philippines where religious fanaticism and superstitious beliefs still persist. Humanists believe that critical thinking and thorough understanding of our natural world is the key to enlightenment and the eventual abolition of religion. For donations to this cause, please see details below:

McJarwin Cayacap

Writer
Photographer
Graphic Designer
Metro Manila member

Currently in between careers, he busies himself with anything that works for the good of humanity. Other than being a Humanist, he is a realist, an art aficionado, a frugal foodie and a weary wanderer. He looks forward to working in the central government.