BANAAN MUSEUM: Where Pangasinan's Past, Present and Future Meet

I am a Pangasinense and I admit that I do not have sufficient knowledge about my province.

I was in Grade 6 when I saw the map of Pangasinan for the first time in our classroom. I was delighted when I found my town, Anda. Some of the municipalities and cities are familiar to me, but most of them are not.

I counted all the cities and towns and I said to myself they are many. I was dreaming before that I would have visit in the future. 

After eighteen years, I have not fulfilled it. With its 44 municipalities and four cities, the province is wide and as a busy person, going to these places is a challenge for me.

Reaching these places is the only way for me to learn about Pangasinan—its culture and history.

When I was in elementary, I was a contestant for geography, history, and civics several times. I have read many things about the Philippines from the time of Lapu-Lapu until the presidency of Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.

Unfortunately, the quiz does not include local history as main component of the competition. I have learned being a Filipino, but I am clueless about being a Pangasinan native.

In my thirty years of existence, there is something missing in my identity. I want to learn more about my roots. I want to embrace everything about Pangasinan, my home.

That is why, I went to Banaan Museum in Lingayen, Pangasinan.

The provincial museum was opened to the public September 11 last year. I tried to book for a visit during the break in October, but it did not prosper. I had the chance to be there during the December holiday break.

For those who are planning to visit it, one must undergo online reservation. I left our house early as it takes more than two hours to get there. The facade was alluring. It was a welcome feast for eyes. That impression made me think there are lots of things that I can observe inside the building. I was right.

I went alone, and I needed to join other people for a group tour.  I was with a group of balikbayan. What amazed me was the matriarch of the family used to study there when she was a school kid.

Before it became a museum, it is called Casa Real. It is one of the oldest buildings in the capital of the province. It used to be a seat of power, a court, and a school. Being with someone who used to roam in that place was a bonus. It was a nice scene to see that she brought her grandchildren who grew up abroad for them to know the roots of their family.

Aside from them, there were also a group of teenagers who opted to spend a day understanding the province rich history. 

We started our museum tour at Gallery 1- Where Asin and Bolo Embraced. The tour guide relayed the etymology of Pangasinan’s name. I learned before that the name means the land of salt. The additional learning I got from that gallery was the place Caboloan that has something to do with a place rich of bamboo. This and Pang- asinan form the province’s modern- day territory.

Then, we were brought to Gallery 2- The Shape of our Homeland, one of my favorite galleries. As a map lover, I enjoyed gazing on big sizes of maps showing the six legislative districts of Pangasinan.

There are eleven galleries housed in the building. There is an art gallery for contemporary artists. Moreover, there are history galleries showing folk stories, Pangasinan- Chinese relations, local heroes, the province’s involvement in World War II.

Another gallery that I love is Gallery showcasing the literary works of Pangasinan writers.

The one-and-a-half-hour tour and Php 200 were not wasted. Truly, the museum’s name was justified. Banaan, a Pangasinan word which means “meeting place” is the right word to describe how Pangasinan’s past, present, and future converge.

I went alone, but I went home with the rich heritage of more than 3 million Pangasinense. I learned about the past. I learned about the present. And I learned that I am the future that my province needs. I am truly proud Pangasinense.

(This article was first published by White Sand, the official publication of Tondol National High School under Features section.)

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