Urban Adventures: Myth of the Human Body Museum (10.23.10)

On one of the rare occassions that I find myself awake on my commute on a bus I saw this host and Drew on morning tv talking about plastination. You know, the process of preserving the dead by adding some formula that will make them stiff as plastic and not decompose? Yeah that one. Instantly I thought of a wonderful change of plans on a Saturdate. I've always been in the haunt of finding good places to go in the metro and this I wanted to see. I never had the chance to know where and how much was the entrance fee because I slept on it waiting (commercials and the interview/roaming of Drew and the other host was cut into different parts) but knowing that it existed is enough.

So after hopelessly searching for the details on the net without ever knowing that the exhibit was named as such (the title), using broad queries such as taguig, plastination, exhibit, museum, dead, corpses I really thought I wasn't going to find it. I was so glad when I really found their website and the details I was so needing, for instance a landline.

What I really like about EDSA is that the trick of not getting lost is finding the nearest MRT station. There is no way for you to get lost when it is your benchmark. So with the power of google maps, I tried looking for the said exhibit and how far it was from the nearest MRT station. Not good. I've only went so far in Taguig back when I was college visiting a friend who lived there with the company of other college friends so I don't remember a thing about the directions. There was a time though just this year that I was assigned at Taguig but it doesn't go much further than Market! Market! and when I looked at the map it was a bit far from my benchmark. Not being deterred by this roadblock, I just called the curator for directions instead.

After the call I get to write down Guadalupe, jeeps infront of MCDO, Gate 3 and CWSLAI. I really thought it was easy when we got there but we looked obviously lost on which jeep we should take. So we ended up in a taxi. First one don't have an idea where and the second only know Bayani Road. Good enough.

Traversing the road I saw on our right Market! Market!. So we are near there after all! Why did the map told me that it was so far and --- fine. I don't know how to read maps and what was actually the distance of point A to B.

The taxi went on and we are both trying to look at the places where our landmark must be which was CWSLAI. Imagine saying that a couple of times. It's like reciting ABCDEF. It doesn't make sense what that is right? It's so embarassing repeating it numerous times. Who knows what the driver must have thought of me. Anyways, on my side of the window I saw another marker. I remember the curator saying that the building has Gods and Goddesses sculptures. There it was! And to verify it more, there's C-W-S-L-A-I! It exists, yey!

 After the cab dropping us off, the guard kindly ushered us on the left side of the building where you get to buy the tickets. Lookie I am visitor 202!

When we came in, we are greeted by tour guides all for our own. I forgot if they let us pick anyone but one suddenly said, "Are you ready to go in?"-- like as if we have to prepare ourselves for what we should be seeing. Like a horror house only well lit and in my mind I was imagining that I might get nightmares in the tone of his voice. When we said yes in unison (is it still unison when there is just the two of us?) he gave out the rules: No photography (haha DSLR wannabes might die) and no touching of the specimens (duh, why would you touch a century old dead?!!).

Ground floor houses the specimens who are into sports. Tour guide also gave a primer on how plastination was done (he was scanning and reading the wall print) and I found myself nodding vigorously. Maybe because I don't really care about how it was done and was just itching to see the rest. He also mentioned that they used Greek Gods to represent the parts/systems of the body in the exhibit. Being an old lover of mythologies I hate being lectured on who Heracles was and Zeus and argh. I started eyeing the stairs.

After a minute or so, we went up alone (he said to watch out for the lowered beam which when I got I don't even  need to duck) to be greeted by another tour guide. This time I was getting interested but unfortunately my least remembered part. I now forgot what was on this side but I remembered two things: he kept on ushering us quick by saying "now moving on..." after successfully saying the medical names of the bone structures we have no idea how to verify and to add to the confusion he has braces. It's like he's saying a tongue twister all along.

Next part was... was... I think it was the respiratory system or something. I do remember that we now have joined a family of 3 (mom, dad and son, who was probably our age too) where being parents and all who are more concerned about health, are curious at every little thing. At the circulatory system where they have the all-vein guy they discussed for eternity while both me and my date are arguing the nail-like shape of the veins on the tips of the fingers. I just urged him on to look at the oversized hearts preserved in their own diseased glory.

(Borrowing a line from one of our tour guides) Moving on, It's like a whirlwind of dead and more dead and tour guides reciting more medical terms I have no possible way of memorizing in an instant. I don't even have an idea how many we've passed before we got to the most uncomfortable part (there was digestive and the circulatory systems not so sure which came first) -- the reproductive system.

If it wasn't for the mom I would be more uneasy. It's not comfortable seeing a piece of err... the female genatalia in it's full glory (it even has hairs T_T) nor was it with the males when the three people in my group are men and one of them is probably at the same age as my dad (or older). It's like this feeling that I get whenever I'm watching two people torridly kissing on tv, with both parents on my side. Really awkward.

After that we got to the brain section (oh oh they had a multimedia presentation on the reproductive system or more like the miracles of pregnancy before I forget) where I learned that when someone dies you first lose sight, then hearing then touch. The rest is just a blur. There was also a 'bonus' like specimen, a full body of a child vertically dissected into 3. This may sound gruesome, but seen in that kind of butchered state she really looked like meat. I brushed it off my mind before I become vegan.

Then there's the section where they have fetuses in different stages of growth. Most fascinating was seeing them in cylinders showing blood, one of them, if you may so visit will not miss, the scariest bright red fetus I've ever seen. Looked like a rocker's idea of an album cover.

Fast forward to elsewhere we saw the only part of the museum where you can only take pictures, but only at the right side. On the left was the the MRI like dissection of a woman suspended in mid-air (missing a leg and an arm I theorized to my date who noticed the missing parts was intended so they don't need to hook more parts anymore) and on the right was the tarpaulin as seen here:

After seeing those we came back to a small little room that the family we were with went in instead of what me and date did of going on. There We get to do some inking on paper which you can take home as souvenir and not make parts of your own in clay as I previously thought much cooler. But let's just make do of what we have. Thankfully it's just the 5 of us. Imagine what it would be like if it's a field trip. Here's a scanned copy of my work:

In the end I realized how unprepared I am to even get pregnant (I think seeing how a woman's internal organs temporarily move upwards to accomodate a baby is too graphic for me) and how scary a stomach of a person with an ulcer looks like. Sadly we should have gotten more out of it if they thought that not all visitors are medical students who would get what the jargons they are saying. It's flattering to instantly assume that we are still students (hehe) but doing so will not make an exhibit whose initial purpose is to promote health and wellness friendly in the general public. Not everyone needs to be well-versed in medical terms just by visiting an exhibit.

I also disapprove having the last part of the exhibit with the most number of tour guides who are mum on what we are currently looking and had dumb looks and didn't know what they were doing. I don't even have an idea why they're there in the first place. I was expecting them to tell us what's this fetus is, and the development stage and not just ogle with us over the specimens.

Verdict? I will say I'm not thoroughly satisfied. I did see plastination in Ripley's episode before and it was more stunning. Remember that rider and the horse? That was cool. Or maybe just sensitive tour guides who gives time to their visitors to ponder on the specimens. They're there all the time but we aren't. Besides, there aren't any much of visitors that day too.

As you can see on the ticket above, you have until April next year to decide on whether you wanted to go or not because for 350 that's the best you'd get.


  1. may i know the website?.. thanks.. =)

  2. huh . grabe nung pinuntahan nmen yan !! natatawa ako