Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mountain Province : The Bontoc Museum

The Outdoor Museum
When traveling to the capital town of Bontoc in the Mountain Province, one has got to check out the Bontoc Museum. The Bontoc Museum began as a small collection of gifts from people in the different barrios of Bontoc, Mountain Province to Sister Basil Gekiere, one of the first Belgian sisters who began her missionary work in Bontoc in 1931. Many years later, a cultural worker who saw her modest collection suggested that Sister Basil put up a museum.

In 1975, the initial collection was temporarily set up in a room at the Sister's Convent and opened for public viewing for the first time. This gave the villagers a chance to see the objects in a new light. The building as it stands today was constructed in 1980 by William Brasseur, then Bishop of the Mountain Province.

Museum Facade
Over the years, the museum collection expanded and more objects were acquired from the different provinces of the Cordillera region. The collection now includes artifacts, ritual objects and heirloom pieces from different ethno-linguistic groups of the Cordillera.

Local Cherry Tree and a Rice God
The range of artifacts in the museum started out as being mostly from the Bontoc and Kankane-ey communities in the Mountain Province. However, when the Bontoc Museum opened to the public in 1980, the range of objects already included those from the indigenous communities in other Cordillera provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao, Benguet and Abra. The extensive repository that it is today has made it one of the few ethnological museums in the country.

Outdoor Pieces
Similarities in certain aspects of the people's cultures are revealed in the basic forms of crafts that were created for specific uses. Handwoven cloth, tools and wood, rattan and bamboo crafts, among others, reveal remarkable craftsmanship with designs ranging from the very rudimentary to the highly elaborate. While some types of crafts may have been outgrown their usefulness, certain art forms still persist and continue to develop.

A Weaver, a Bulol and a Coffin
The museum also has an invaluable heirloom collection of centuries-old Chinese porcelain and stoneware dating back to the Sung, Ming and Ching dynasties. Artifacts and heirloom pieces such as beads, jars, plates, bowls and other exquisite ceramics from different parts of the Cordillera region affirm the early trade relations which upland people had with lowland Filipinos and foreign merchants.

Widow's Hut
My favorite spot in the Bontoc Museum is the outdoor museum which is a representation of a traditional Bontoc village showing key aspects of village life. It has traditional Bontoc Hut, a pig pen, a rice granary, an ato and an olog among others. It also has a huge local Cherry Tree in the middle and is surrounded by herb garden and various mountain plants.

Bontoc Hut for Kadangyan
Today, the museum plays an important cultural and educational role, helping to deepen other people's appreciation for the distinct richness of the Cordillera people's way of life.

Note: Information in this post courtesy of The Curator, Bontoc Museum. The Bontoc Museum is located at 2616 Bontoc, Mountain Province. You may inquire/call them at (074) 606-8084.


  1. The outdoor museum looks interesting. Is there an antrance fee?

  2. I agree. From the time I first visited this museum, which was in the mid 90s, the collection has expanded and even the museum itself and its surrounding has undergone wonderful enhancements.