It was raining but still there was a man outside the museum handing out leaflets. I went back later and discovered this treasure of a museum.
The Chinese community in Manila is prosperous but insecure, a privileged minority. Many times, they keep quiet and get on with their business. Yet, there is much to be proud of in their history and contributiion to Filipino society. Their prosperity, insecurity and importance are obvious from every single exhibit here.
I was lucky to be there at the same time as a group of middle school students. Their enthusiastic museum guide was very welcoming, and proud of her heritage, and invited me to join her group. Instead I made my own way around, eavesdropping on her explanations. Her remarks, added to what the exhibit labels said, told a fascinating story.
The museum, in an old merchant house, covers three floors, the third floor containing more publicity of the contribution of individual Chinese-Filipinos to society and public welfare than actual museum exhibits.
Like other successful minorities, the Chinese community in the Philippines has thrived in spite of barriers put in their way by the various rulers of the country. In fact, in many cases the restrictions have made them stronger. Their fascinating story is seldom told. You could spend a long time in Manila and hardly be aware of it. Here it is on proud display.
I was glad I took the museum slowly. Its story is rather subtle and is revealed by careful consideration of what is being said and not said. Try to have a museum guide tell you sttories, too, if you go.