Six years ago during the Pasinaya arts festival, the Urban Roamer had the opportunity to visit Museo Marino in the City of Manila, a maritime-oriented museum Associated Maritime Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), a prominent seafarers’ union in the country. At that time, this roamer remarked that it was the only museum in the country dedicated to the Philippine maritime industry and the Filipino seafarers, which comprise a sizeable portion of the global maritime workforce.
Recently, however, I came to know there is actually another maritime museum in the country, also within Metro Manila (Pasay to be exact). It would take another Pasinaya for me to visit this one, the Museo Maritimo.
Located along Roxas Boulevard right near the corner of Arnaiz Avenue, (formerly Libertad) Museo Maritimo is located within the campus grounds of the Asian Institute of Maritime Studies, which manages the museum. AIMS is actually a young maritime school, established in 1993 but has grown considerably to become a prominent maritime school in its own right.
This museum could have possibly predated Museo Marino by a month as the museum had its launch in March, a month before Museo Marino opened. Though I’m not sure if the opening of the museum was on the same month as well. Age aside, what is undeniable is that Museo Maritimo is actually larger in area as it is housed throughout the seven floors of AIMS’ lighthouse-inspired building which was constructed back in 2005 as part of AIMS’ expansion. Well, sort of but I will explain it later on.
The main museum area is located at the building’s sixth floor, where one can find exhibits relating to global and Philippine maritime history. One prominent attraction there is the statue of a Father Odorico of Pordenone, a Catholic priest from the Franciscan order who purportedly landed in the Philippines, in what is now Bolinao, Pangasinan, in 1324, predating Magellan’s landing in Homonhon by almost 200 years, and even celebrated Christmas mass there. But while Father Odorico is a real person, his purported landing and mass in Pangasinan has been deemed by many historians as “fake news” so his presence in the museum is a red flag.
Other than that, the exhibits on that floor are nice, balancing both global and local maritime perspectives, from the balangays and the Galleon Trade to old navigation equipment and replicas of items from the Titanic.
But what makes this maritime museum unique is the interactive experience wherein visitors get to experience what it’s like being a seafarer. The main exhibit hall for instance has a large ship’s wheel found in the ships of old wheel that visitors can try out.
The lower floors of the building offer a more immersive experience as visitors can check out the tools and facilities that are actually being used in today’s maritime education, including a representation of what a ship’s bridge would look like. The ground floor also has a large (albeit not life-sized) replica of a typical vessel, and its engine room inside, providing visitors with a better understanding of a ship’s inner workings.
Unfortunately, these facilities are open only on weekdays when classes are being held and the Pasinaya was on a weekend so tough luck for this roamer there. A possible good excuse for a revisit in order see the facilities up close.
All in all, Museo Maritimo is a nice interactive museum to visit, albeit its weekday-only schedule and limited availability of many of its facilities can be a drawback especially for weekend warriors. But the museum is hard at work in improving its services and facilities so here’s hoping for an improved experience ahead.
For more information and to book a visit to Museo Maritimo, visit their Facebook page for details
The Urban Roamer expresses his gratitude to the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Museo Maritimo for opening the museum’s doors during CCP’s Pasinaya arts festival 2023
Acknowledgements to the Asian Institute of Maritime Studies