D'Bone collector museum turns two

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

FRANKLY speaking, I don't accept invitation to speak before a group. But recently Darrell Dean Blatchley - more popularly known as Uncle D - invited me to be one of the guests on the second anniversary of D'Bone Collector Musem, Inc. which is located at the Bucana in Davao City.

What made the invitation tempting was the opening of the extension of the museum. "When it opened last year," said Uncle D, who is the museum's curator and owner. The museum had only 150 specimens displayed in 250-square meter of space. Today, it has 750-square meter of display and over 500 specimens.

That makes the museum of having the largest collections of bones not only in Mindanao but throughout the country. "The Philippines is home to 27 species of whales and dolphins," Uncle D pointed out. "Worldwide, there are 83 species. My museum has 13 species and 27 specimens."


The museum's center of attraction is the 41-foot sperm whale skeleton, one of the 4-known assembled sperm whales in the Philippines. It is also one of the less than 50 in the world.

D'bone collector museum in Bucana, Davao City
D'bone collector museum in Bucana, Davao City (Photo by Henrylito D. Tacio)

"We have added a whole new wing dedicated to land animals in the second floor," said Uncle D, who speaks the dialect like a native (having spent almost half of his life in the city). "We are currently redoing the Ocean section, which is located at the third floor."

The museum adds new specimen on the average of one or two a week. "We do not purchase native animals for several reasons," he said. "It is illegal. Also, most of them are endangered. If we purchase native animals, it may encourage more 'deaths' of the endangered species."

According to Uncle D, the museum works in tandem with the local government units and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources "to educate the public on the animals that are found not just in the Philippines but from around the world."

Since the museum opened last year, more than 20,000 people have been to the place. Visitors were not only from the Philippines but also those coming from Europe, the United States, Asia, and the Middle East. "The museum is adding the already good ecotourism image of Davao City and the Philippines," Uncle D said.

Assisting Uncle D and his wife, Mary Gay, in the cutting of ribbon were two well-known Davao personalities: ex-councilor Pilar Braga and Aida Rivera-Ford, the founding president of the Ford Academy of Arts.

I met Uncle D some three years ago. Last year, he told me about opening a museum on animal bones in the country's largest city. I thought he was just kidding. But I was wrong. He did open the museum, a dream he was pursuing for several years.

I asked Darrell what was so special about bones. People, after all, want to see the real thing - not just bones. But he replied that once the bones are buried, they will be gone forever. "The mission of the museum is to educate, with the goal that the bones will serve as ambassadors of the living," he said.

In addition, the bones can inspire people to change for the better.
For every bone you can see in the museum, there is a story behind it. How did he get the bones? What is the reason of the death of the animal? What can we do to save those of the remaining species that may soon disappear from this part of the world?

At one time, I wanted to feature Darrell in the Hero section of Reader's Digest, but my editor asked me what makes him a hero? A hero is a person who saves someone from accidents or anyone who has done something for the good of mankind.

Darrell may not have save a person but he is saving the animals which most people don't pay attention to. These animals are part of our environment. Each has a purpose why God put them with us. Without them, our life in this world would not be much of a paradise.

You may not see animals in cages like those I saw in a zoo in Melbourne, Australia. You may not even see these animals roaming around the forest, just like what I had witnessed when I had a safari in Durban, South Africa.

The bones and skeletons of the animals displayed in the museum were intricately constructed for people to see how they were when they were inside the body of the animal when it was still alive.

I have seen a lot of museums around the world. And one of the best you get to see are those found in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, the D'Bone Collector Museum Inc. - a registered non-government organization - can compete with those in the Smithsonian.

The museum is open from Mondays to Fridays. Entrance fee is P50 for adults and P40 for children and students.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 30, 2014.


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