I was going to write about my trip to Moalboal and what led me to decide to go there but changed my mind as soon as I discovered Naomi’s Bottle Museum. It was the weekend, I had nothing to do but had to stay in Cebu because of work commitments the following week. I didn’t want to be stuck in the four corners of my hotel room so I decided to go on an adventure trip to Moalboal – no plans, no purpose, not even my scuba gear (and to think that I am going to a popular diving destination!).
So packed a few clothes – discovered I forgot to bring my swimmers, sunnies and sunscreen…what the hell, I will just buy from there, there’s bound to be a mall along the way – booked a hotel, organized my transport, checked that I got all my gadgets…and I was off in no time for a 3-hour trip to the southwestern part of the island of Cebu.
More about that trip on another post, but for now I want to talk about a rare find – a bottle museum.
I saw the museum when I went for my early morning jog (a new found obsession) around town and made a mental note to come back when it opened. The bottle museum is located about 200 meters to Panagsama beach in Moalboal and owned by Myrna and Lito Alvarez.
The Bottle Museum is a cross between “Letters to Juliet” and “Message in a Bottle.” This place is full of positive vibe and radiates a warm fuzzy feeling. When Lito Alvarez opened the gate to let me in, I felt a heavy weight had been lifted, as if Lito extinguished my worries as soon as he shook my hand and welcomed me. Myrna greeted me at the door and it felt like being welcomed back to my mother’s arms, her talking voice was like a warm embrace telling me, everything will be alright.
The museum is a shack with every nook and cranny filled with bottles, books, paper and the couple’s memorabilia. But what it lacked in space and order it made up for character that seemed to get imbibed by its visitors.
Myrna greeted me with a gift. She asked me to pick a scroll from a huge green bottle. This is the scroll of wisdom, sort of like the fortune inside a fortune cookie but much less cryptic and not as generic. I sat to read my scroll and got emotional at its content. Myrna said that no two scrolls are alike, each is unique and meant for those who picked them…and it certainly felt that way!
Lito said that it started when they moved back to the place and found that the resorts are having problems disposing their empty liquor bottles. At that time Lito had books from Spain that were given to him by his great grandfather and he was having problems with storage and didn’t know what to do with them. He then decided to tear the pages and put them in the bottles and called them wisdom bottles. The idea caught on and soon tourists were also donating books and magazines. Myrna started using the magazines as material for baskets and also started writing messages to put in them. She called these messages “Tsurtidogni” and they relate to everyday existence and serve to inspire the receiver. The messages were indeed very inspiring and dug deep into what I have forgotten and ignored. They spoke to me with such clarity, giving me directions and a renewed passion to pursue my course.
I will definitely come back to see Myrna and Lito to thank them for opening my eyes and rekindling my spirit by making me release the messages from my once lost bottle.