Friday, April 12, 2013

A Visit to Museum of Natural History, U.P. Los Baños

 * Museum of Natural History logo

  * Museum of Natural History staff briefing us about the place and its beginnings

Museums will always be treasure places for knowledge, regardless of field and scope. And one museum visit we did about a year ago definitely gave more than stock knowledge.

 * human fetuses

* animal fetuses  

* all about frogs and toads! 

 * MNH through the years 

The Museum of Natural History (MNH), founded in 1976, is found on the general area of Mount Maquiling within the jurisdiction of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. The place is commonly called ‘Forestry’ since the College of Forestry and Natural Resources is near this place. Now our visit was not the usual one as it was part of a youth activity I have recently joined. We started with a short orientation from a staff of the museum (unfortunately I have forgotten her name) then proceeded to do our own interpretative dance for the song “Ang Lahat ng Bagay ay Magkaugnay” (not sure about I exact title). Bu I enjoyed the ‘dance’ as I don’t usually do that, even when alone.
   * shells, rocks, and fossils

The tour inside was not without a challenge as we held later a short quiz bee on what we have learned inside. But I am staying from the subject. Let me discuss what are found in this museum.


* shells, rocks, and fossil

The museum’s name is of course an apt one since what’s inside is essentially from nature. We were greeted by information about frogs and amphibians, preserved human and animal fetuses, as well as preserved shells, rocks, minerals, fossils, and other ‘ancient stuff’ found on and under the ground.  It should be noted however that not all of the displayed items are real. Some of them are replicas already since the originals are either: 1) too fragile already or, 2) prone to degradation or disintegration if exposed for a long period of time. But these are just conjectures; my short notes for this visit failed to tell me the reasons.


* microbes, microbial products, and the microscope

But replica or not, it was still amazing to see and realize at the same time that much can still be learned from our surroundings. Old rocks? Think again. They may be from some distant period of the earth’s existence that only archeologists or other experts can name.

 * insects and insects and insect

But MNH is not limited to rocks or fossils. Even small stuff is their concern as well. So microbes and bacteria (I cannot discuss the similarities or differences) occupy a space inside the museum replete with information about them and how they are being put to good use. It was also good to refresh one’s mind with the operation the ubiquitous microscope. Then there are also some products featured to show that much can still be gained by cultivating those things found in nature.


* insects and insects and insects

And so you may also ask the question: how many Philippine insects are there? MNH can tell you that. Too bad my photo of the answer is quite vague (see accompanying photo in this blog post): is it 20,940 or is there an additional digit before the number 2? Anyway, leaving the numbers game, one can simply look up and admire literally hundreds of balang. This art work, aptly named “Balang” is a mixed media in a glass case art done by OL Eusebio, EA Cosico, and VJ Calilung in 1995. This work, when we did this visit, is already hung on a wall. But I remember seeing it laid on a big table the first time. The sad part of this was several parts of the artwork are already gone or in some areas the baling are already disintegrating. I believe repairs can still be done on this one.


* fungi, plants, and trees 

 * San Pablo, strong! 

    * a view of the tall tress outside

Plants and trees have also their respective places inside the museum. Medicinal plants in the country, the museum has them. Forest types in the country, the museum has them too. Fungi cannot be ignored as well. All in all, it’s like seeing nature simplified or miniaturized.

* our first visit to MNH

Final Thoughts

In retrospect, I may consider MNH as one of the establishments which can birth to my love, however naïve, for science. I first visited this place 11 years ago (see an old photo of ours above) and I remember making lengthy notes (for our notes and observations will be graded later on) during the visit. And I got a good grade (not so high, that is) but it was accompanied by a remark from our biology teacher saying that such traits I exhibited during the trip can be used in the future. Well, I may not have taken a biology degree but definitely the affinity to the sciences remains.

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