There’s no other place in the Philippines to experience larger-than-life teddy bears than in the first and only Bear Museum in Cavite province.
An interesting choice for a business, Bearseum is a gallery of customized plush teddy bears in a themed setting, usually life-sized or even doubly or triply bigger than a normal-sized adult. Its huge collection brings smile to children and childlike adults, says Bear Museum co-owner Lav Conseja.
“Bears are usually associated with happiness. Come to think of it, during courtship, the most popular gifts aside from flowers are bears. When a loved one is sick and confined in a hospital, we bring stuffs toys and most of the time, teddy bears are the first to come to mind to cheer the patient. Bears are always a constant when one thinks of happy thoughts,” Conseja says.
Bearseum opened in 2019 along the curvy stretch of Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road, near the famous Ming’s Garden. It shut down during the pandemic, as the crisis continued to gnaw on the business’ viability.
In May 2023, it relocated to Barangay Loma in Amadeo, Cavite after the owners decided to revive the business. The museum, restored to its full glory, houses a curated variety of teddy bears―from space-traveling “astro-bears” to mermaids, forest-themed and Asian-themed bears and king and queen bears. The establishment has over 300 bears in its collection.
At its new home, the business started on strong note since it opened on a summer break. Kids, with parents in tow, are a constant sight in the premises. Laughter now fills the once quiet barangay.
“They ask us why here. The place, although situated along the highway, is a safe place for kids. The highway is never busy, with low traffic of motorists, and the climate is cool and invigorating,” Conseja says.
She says before the pandemic, their lives as marketing executives took a turn from stressful to toxic―starting the day waging a war against EDSA traffic to late-night meetings with clients. Conseja and her business partners co-owned a marketing company that services multinationals. It also shut down during the pandemic after losing most of its clients.
The teddy bear museum was a group brainchild, she says. The concept is to offer a therapeutic staycation to people who are always overtaxed with work and a happy place for children.
“This is from where the concept of Bearseum started, patterned from our own needs and desire to come to a place where we can forget work even for just a weekend and return the following week with energy replenished, eager for another work week,” Conseja says, adding that in the previous site, the museum was fitted with six suites to accommodate guests.
Bearseum was an original idea that just popped and clicked, innocent of the fact that there may be other bear museums in other countries. The Bear Museum may not be the first in the world, but it is certainly the first and the only Bear Museum in the Philippines, says Conseja.
At the new site, the restored museum mixes with a new dining concept. It is a more logical business decision, having located in a town where residents still go “out-of-town” for quick coffee and snacks.
B cafe is the group’s foray into dining. Individually, the co-owners tried to venture into food service businesses, specifically fine dining.
Conseja, herself, used to run a fine dining restaurant in Tagaytay and a coffee shop called Cat Cafe, both of which folded during the health crisis.
Two of her partners―a wellness chef and his son who is a certified barista―are always physically present to help her man the cafe along with a handful of employees who are all locally-hired.
The cafe serves hot and cold beverages, several choices of pasta and panini sandwiches, that kids and adults alike are certain to enjoy.
Cozy and spacious, the cafe opened on Aug. 11, four months after the museum debuted.
Conseja says B Cafe serves the best coffee in town, better than the coffee served in famous coffee chain. The proprietary blend is a trade secret she carefully kept close to her heart.
B Cafe is also open for family and personal events, she says.
Keeping it local
One thing that the business owners strongly agree on is to keep all sourcing and procurement local– like the raw materials for the museum pieces and ingredients for the cafe.
Conseja, who is the face of the business, is also the creative mind behind designs of the cute and huggable bears. She’s found a plush toy maker who easily adopted the skills to make life-like or bigger-than-life teddy bears. Most of Bearseum’s items are customized, and the smaller ones are bought locally.
“The only imported bear we have is the inflated bear on the Bear Grounds, since we cannot find a local supplier who can create the specifications that we want,” Conseja says.
Her co-owners also plan to add a retail aspect to the museum concept by selling bears that can be fitted with different clothes. There is a also a plan to put up a restaurant that is not only pet-friendly, but treats pets as family members, with a special menu for pet guests.
“Well, these are all plans, at the moment. We will try to save up first, so we can have all these plans fleshed out. I might as well say that our group is quite the risk-taker. We take in risky projects because we are confident that the concept will fly,” Conseja says.
Right now, the museum is running the first of a series of promos. For the month of September, Bear Museum is offering the “9 sale” or the September Treat. On Tuesdays to Thursdays in September, children below three feet are welcome to try the museum tour for P99, below the general admission fee of P169. On weekends in September, the young children are encouraged to try the museum at P179, while the general admission is P259.
Truly, Bearseum stirs up a throve of fond childhood memories for the adults while creating new happy memories for the kids.
At this Cavite museum, a giant bear hug is just a day trip away.