By Rhea Vitto Tabora
If you are a local tourist or a foreign visitor who is coming to Manila only for a short while, Lakbay Museo is the best place to visit as the museum takes you to all 11 regions of the Philippines,” says Bobby Joseph, chairperson of the recently opened museum at S Maison in Conrad Manila.
The colorful and interactive museum, Joseph says, “offers a unique opportunity to witness the country’s festivals, traditional dances, costumes, and food all under one roof.”
Travel across the country
Lakbay Museo lets visitors experience the best of the country, appreciate the richness and diversity of Filipino culture, and, more notably, travel around Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao while taking photos in less than two hours.
Right at the entrance of the museum, a colorful jeepney, an airplane, and a vibrant vinta welcome guests, a reminder that the Philippines is an archipelago which visitors can explore by land, air, or water.
“Paano ka maglalakbay?” asks the display, letting guests choose their mode of entrance—either by riding the jeepney, climbing the airplane and sliding down, or walking through the vinta.
Featured destinations include Tondo streets complete with carinderia and sari-sari stores, Calle Crisologo in the heritage city of Vigan, the Ivatan house of Batanes, the vibrant Pahiyas Festival of Lucban, the Sto. Niño Shrine of Tacloban, the world-famous Mayon Volcano, the Mindanao royal house with traditional clothing and musical instruments on display, and the underwater scene depicting the Visayas region’s rich marine resources and stunning beaches.
“This is the first Philippine interactive millennial museum,” beams Lakbay Museo president Lawrence Tan.
True enough, here, guests can go around interactive exhibits and have a sensorial experience of the Philippines—unlike in most museums where touching the displays are strictly prohibited.
Visitors are allowed to, say, balance a stack of palayok (they’re made of rubber) on top of their head, swim in a giant rice bowl, sit on a beautiful giant clamshell, touch various traditional textiles and tapestries, do the iconic lava walk inside the small tunnel of Mayon Volcano replica, or snap photos beside the 120-plus mannequins wearing authentic Filipino attire.
The museum has well-trained staff always ready to explain the Instagram-worthy displays and share interesting information about each station.
Interestingly, Tan says, 90 percent of the staff working at Lakbay Museo are out-of-school youth. The company also employs a PWD (person with disability) and a senior citizen.
The museum also aims to raise environmental awareness. “We used recycled materials for most of the structures and displays here,” claims Tan. “We used over 4,000 rubber slippers, over 300 pieces of old rubber tires, old rubber mats, and other recyclable materials.”
There are also empty plastic bottles on display on the ceiling of the Visayas region station, a reminder for travelers to not just mindlessly throw plastic waste anywhere so that the destinations can still be enjoyed by the next generation, explained Ronaldo Salazar, a very knowledgeable and friendly staff at the museum.
The interactive museum also showcases lifelike replicas of over 600 local dishes and delicacies.
Among the food displays are adobo, sinigang, and lechon, as well as regional dishes such as sinanglaw (beef innards stew from Ilocos), kansi (a beef shank soup from Bacolod which is a cross dish between bulalo and sinigang), and laswa (Ilonggo boiled vegetable soup).
Also present is a replica of Cebu’s famous Taboan Public Market which showcases a huge collection of dried fish, from boneless dilis and dalag baybay to tuyong lapad and dried ayungin; as well as Ilocos region’s “Instagrammable” longganisa and empanada installation.
Museum-goers can also learn more about regional variations of vinegar (from Sukang Iloco to Sukang Paombong), different coffee beans (from barako to alamid), and rice grain varieties (from Mountain Province’s ominio to Ifugao’s minaangan).
“We hope to do food tourism event starting with NCR and then the other regions so that we can feature and be proud of our diverse cuisine and the people who prepare them,” says Joseph.
Joseph is known in the hospitality and tourism industry for his tourism advocacies, one of which is the Save Manila Bay project which he launched in January 2019 in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Manila.
He reveals the young entrepreneurs of the Millennial Concept Factory, Inc. invited him to be their chairman and mentor. “I told them I will not impose any fee for my services,” he shares. “They can tap on my connections and expertise in marketing and management. I’m happy to make the Lakbay Museo a part of my advocacy in tourism.”
Lakbay Museo offers a collage of experiences. “I hope that you give me a chance to prove to all Filipinos that they need to come here and enjoy the cultural shows, the tradition, the costume, and the food,” invites Tan.
The museum is located at S Maison in Conrad Hotel Manila at the Mall of Asia complex. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (last call is at 9:00 p.m.) The entrance fee includes 12 chips which guests can use as payment for different local treats and snacks inside the museum. Goods normally cost around one to four chips each. Go to www.lakbaymuseo.ph.
Photos by Rhea Vitto Tabora