A Must Visit: National Museum of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology houses different kinds of prehispanic artifacts like burial jars, weapons, and armory, crafts from the various ethnolinguistic groups and indigenous people, weaving looms, fabrics, native costumes, porcelain, ceramics, musical instruments, ancient writing script, and accessories.

Before, I thought that all of the item being exhibited in the National Museum was just located in one building.  Actually, there are three museums which were categorized into separate buildings, The National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of Fine Arts.

This blog is about the National Museum of Anthropology to give you a brief background on what you will see as well as a guide inside the Museum.

We had a chance to visit the National Museum because of the Baybayin Mobile App that I’ve developed. I’m currently doing my research and study about the historical value of the bygone ancient Filipino writing system. The Baybayin has its own designated room located on the 4th floor of the building along with Philippine textiles, Rice Biodiversity, and climate change.


We first visited the National Museum of Anthropology since Baybayin is located at that building. The museum is quite huge but can be toured around by less than 2 to 3 hours. If you are planning to visit, I suggest coming as early as possible since there are many people also visiting the place to avoid the long queue, especially in the afternoon. Apart from the valuable and historical things that you could see inside the museum, the building itself is already worth a visit.

The architectural design of National Museum was based on the greek architecture having big corinthians-styled pillars just like the Parthenon and Temple of Helen in Greece.

Here’s what you can see in each floor of National Museum of Anthropology


Ifugao house, library, and National Museum Offices are located on the ground floor. There is also a courtyard where the Ifugao house is located which is good for picture taking. 

National Museum Library


If you are fascinated with ivory, porcelain, and ceramics, I think the second floor fits you. The ivory trade treasure of San Diego, plates mostly came from China, ceramics, and different kinds of jar came from Thailand dating around the 15th century are also displayed on this floor.


The San Diego is basically a Spanish merchant galleon, sunk near the Fortune Island in Nasugbu Batangas in 1600 along with over 5,000 artifacts including Chinese porcelain, Japanese Katana, Cannons, and coins which were entombed when the ship went down. 

These are the Portuguese Cannons found in the San Diego Shipwreck.
Manunggul Jar

I often see Manuggul Jar only in the old 1000 peso bill before, but now I have seen it personally. Manuggul Jar is a burial jar excavated from a Neolithic burial site in the Manunggul cave, Palawan.


The third floor is much more of Mindanao-related crafts and Bangsamoro art from the national ethnographic collection such as musical instruments, native clothes, weapons, and armors. 

Maranao Armor and weapon
Swords and armour of early Filipino mostly used by Datus.
The Maranao tabu or drum is made of a carved wood with floral motif all over the body and lies on a carved wooden stand.
Kulintang: Maranao Musical Instrument
The Maranao korsi is a carved wooden chair with a carved niaga (fern) motif in front and an eagle on top of the backrest.
Antaka of War and Peace

National Living Treasures who have a great contribution to arts is also part of the exhibit on the third floor. 

One of them is Ginaw Bilog, a Filipino poet belongs to Hanunuo Mangyan tribe from Oriental, Mindoro. He was known for his efforts in preserving the mangyan poetry tradition of ambahan. He recognized as a National Living Treasure by the Philippines in 1993.

All of them have a priceless contribution to the country’s intangible cultural heritage. Their distinctive skills prove that Filipino is definitely world class.


One of the greatest archeological treasures in the Philippines is the large anthropomorphic jars found in the dense mountain of Pinol, Maitum in Saranggani province. These prehistoric large jars containing the remains of ancient people which was dated approximately 5 BC to 370 AD. Sounds amazing right? Yup, It’s amazing that there are people already living in the Philippines during that era although the Philippines is not “Philippines” at that time.

This is the diorama of the cave where they found those anthropomorphic jars.

These artifacts currently exhibit in National Museum. I highly suggest visiting the National Museum so you can see those jars up close.


Actually, we first visited the fourth floor for the purpose of our visit last time was to see the records of Filipino ancient writing system or better known as Baybayin. The fourth floor consists of Baybayin, Entwined Spheres, Women at Work, Biodiversity and rice climate change, Hibla ng lahing Filipino. 

The Artistry of Philippine Textiles

Weaving loom 

This is the weaving loom used to create clothes and colorful garments like what we commonly see from indigenous people from Cordillera province, Mindanao and other regions of the Philippines. As far as I know, the materials they used is mostly fine abaca fiber.


The National Museum of Anthropology has a room for Baybayin-related artifacts and records. What’s really amazed me is, they have a different collection of ancient writing system not only the Baybayin but also  Hanunuod and Buhid. Some were written in Bamboo and wooden idols.

Related Article: Baybayin Mobile App: An Ancient Filipino Writing System In A Pocket

The Laguna copper-plate inscription

One of the most precious treasures that will probably tell the lifestyle of early people who live here in the Philippines during 10th century AD is the Laguna Copper-plate, a thin piece of copper sheet with a written script found on Lumbang River, Laguna De Bay. The type of script used in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription has been identified as Early Kawi Script, which is basically a writing system that originated in the Indonesian island of Java.

The inscription on the plate was first deciphered by Dutch anthropologist Antoon Postma.

Long Live! Year of Siyaka 822, month of Waisaka, according to astronomy. The fourth day of the waning moon, Monday. On this occasion, Lady Angkatan, and her brother whose name is Buka, the children of the Honourable Namwaran, were awarded a document of complete pardon from the Commander in Chief of Tundun, represented by the Lord Minister of Pailah, Jayadewa. By this order, through the scribe, the Honourable Namwaran has been forgiven of all and is released from his debts and arrears of 1 katî and 8 suwarna before the Honourable Lord Minister of Puliran, Ka Sumuran by the authority of the Lord Minister of Pailah. Because of his faithful service as a subject of the Chief, the Honourable and widely renowned Lord Minister of Binwangan recognized all the living relatives of Namwaran who were claimed by the Chief of Dewata, represented by the Chief of Medang. Yes, therefore the living descendants of the Honourable Namwaran are forgiven, indeed, of any and all debts of the Honourable Namwaran to the Chief of Dewata. This, in any case, shall declare to whomever henceforth that on some future day should there be a man who claims that no release from the debt of the Honourable…

The notes also mentioned the place Tundun which is now popularly known as Tondo, Puliran or Pulilan,  Mdaŋ (the Javanese Kingdom of Medang) in present-day Indonesia.
Baybayin Characters written on the window pane of National Museum of Anthropology.


Ground floor

  • Ifugao House / Courtyard
  • Office of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines
  • Office of the Archaeology Division
  • Office of the Ethnology Division
  • Office of the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division
  • National Museum Library

Second floor

  • Marble Hall
  • The San Diego: 500 Years of Maritime Trade
  • Garing: The Philippines at the Crossroads of Ivory Trade

Third floor

  • Of War and Peace
  • Manlilikha ng Bayan Hall (National Living Treasure)
  • “Lumad: Mindanao”
  • Faith, Tradition, and Place: Bangsamoro Art from the National Ethnographic Collection
  • “Kaban ng Lahi” (Archaeological Treasures)

Fourth floor

  • Reception Hall (Changing Gallery)
  • Rice, Biodiversity and Climate Change
  • “Hibla ng Lahing Filipino:” The Artistry of Philippine Textiles
  • “Baybayin:” Traditional Scripts of the Philippines
  • Entwined Spheres: Mats and Baskets as Containers, Costumes and Conveyors
  • Office of the Museum Services Division


Taking photos as many as you want is okay but I recommend to take time to read pieces of information and the story behind the exhibit item, not just stare at it. It’s rich in history and I’m sure you will definitely learn something new after reading that information. Going to the museum is not about looking for a good spot to take good photos and share it on social media accounts. It’s also a way to give value and interest to our cultural heritage. All of the displays are labeled with basic information.


  • All guests are required to sign in the visitor’s logbook before viewing the exhibits.
  • Firearms, food, bottled water, and ballpens are not allowed inside galleries.
  • Smoking is prohibited in the NM premises.
  • Touching artworks and taking photos of exhibit items for commercial purposes inside galleries are strictly prohibited.
  • Picture taking is allowed for souvenir purposes only. The use of flash photography is strictly prohibited.
  • Please also refrain from doing a wacky post on the exhibit items as a respect.


From around Manila: 

Option 1. Ride a jeepney along Rizal Avenue bound for Taft Avenue and asked to be dropped at P.Burgos.

Option 2. Take an LRT 1 Yellow Line going to Taft and get down at either United Nations or Central station, walk towards P.Burgos.

Option 3. From Lawton/City Hall area, ride a jeepney or walk towards P.Burgos. 

Option 4. Along Roxas Boulevard, there are FX that are Sucat-Lawton. You can ride this and asked to be dropped at Luneta/P.Burgos and walk towards Taft Avenue.

From Quezon City and Marikina:

Option 1. Take the LRT2 Purple Line and go down at Recto Station. From here, transfer to Doroteo Jose Station of LRT 1 Yellow Line and ride an LRT bound for Baclaran. Get down at Central Station. Walk along Taft Ave passing by Manila City Hall, until you reach P. Burgos. The building at the corner is the National Museum.

Option 2. From Cubao, you can ride a jeepney/FX that is bound for Quiapo and asked to be dropped at Rizal Avenue. Ride an LRT 1 bound for Baclaran via Doroteo Jose Station.
Get down at Central Station. Walk along Taft Ave passing by Manila City Hall, until you reach P. Burgos. The building at the corner is the National Museum.

From Commonwealth Ave

Ride a bus that bounds to Quiapo/Lawton, then dropped off at Manila City Hall. Walk along Taft Ave passing by Manila City Hall, until you reach P. Burgos. The building at the corner is the National Museum.

Direction from http://www.metromaniladirections.com/


National Museum opens daily except Mondays from 10AM – 5PM. Admission to the National Museum is permanently free of charge for all visitors, Filipino or foreign.

For more updates, you can check out their page: 

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Benjoe Vidalhttp://benjoevidal.wanderhacker.com
Benjoe Vidal is a full-time software engineer, part-time travel blogger, and a Hobbyist Photographer. Aside from writing codes he also loves to share and write his travel experiences. He hates describing himself and writing in third person. He is the guy behind this travel blog.

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