New series begins on PH biodiversity, natural historyBy Jeremy R. Barns
About 20 years ago, in the mid-1990s, a vision for a National Museum Complex was established and it was planned that the grand neoclassical buildings at Rizal Park would house galleries of fine arts, ethnographic and archaeological artifacts, and the natural history of the country.
In the years since, the National Art Gallery and the Museum of the Filipino People were inaugurated in the Old Legislative building and the former Department of Finance building, respectively.
Now, with the announcement by President Aquino on Oct. 29 of the hand-over of the Department of Tourism building to the National Museum, we can finally look forward to the creation of the final component of the museum complex—the National Museum of Natural History to highlight our outstanding heritage of geology, natural resources and biodiversity.
As planned, the new museum will house the national geological, paleontological and zoological collections, as well as the National Herbarium with botanical specimens of Philippine and regional flora.
It will exhibit in 10 galleries the full range of the geological history, mineral wealth and ancient forms of life of the country. It will also survey plants and animals indigenous and unique to the archipelago across various habitats, from the cloud forests of the mountaintops to the reefs and deep trenches in our waters.
How did our islands evolve? What kinds of fossils do we have? Why is the Philippines so rich in minerals? Why are there so many unique species? What are they and how are they special? What has been the relationship of Filipinos with the mountains and rivers, lakes and islands around us—through time and in the present day?
These are the fascinating questions that the National Museum of Natural History hopes to answer for everyone.
Certainly, the sheer diversity of flora and fauna in the Philippines—
considered one of the foremost “megadiverse” countries in the world—should be a source of wonder and pride to all Filipinos. It should also make the new museum one of the most exciting educational, scientific, cultural and tourism projects ever undertaken.
We also hope that greater knowledge, awareness and appreciation of biodiversity in our country will promote the conservation and protection of the species and habitats that form a major part of our patrimony as a nation.
In connection with this flagship project of the National Museum, which has been spearheading the documentation and study of rocks, minerals, plants and animals of the Philippines for 112 years since 1901, the series “Nature Notes” is being launched today in this section, in partnership with Inquirer in Education, to give readers, particularly teachers and students, interesting facts and stories about the natural wonders that abound throughout our islands.
We are very grateful to the Philippine Daily Inquirer for this space and we hope you enjoy the contributions by geologists, botanists and zoologists of the National Museum that you will find here every week.