When she accepted the position of president of Museo Pambata in 2019, Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco knew exactly whom she wanted to be by her side: Sofia Zobel-Elizalde, her classmate since Grade One and partner in many projects. “Sofia understands me and my ideas,” she explains, encapsulating their relationship in a nutshell. “I jumped in right away when Bambi invited me to join Museo because she always does things so well,” Sofia says, echoing the same sentiment. She was not prepared, however, for Bambi’s request for her to sit as vice-president. “I was shocked”, says Sofia, “but when she showed me her plans for the Bakuran [the outdoors of the Museo], I just had to say yes.”
The passionate women with creative minds took the reins of the children’s interactive museum, the first of its kind in the Philippines, at its most challenging period. Its 25-year lease with the City of Manila was in its last four years and the museum was facing a threat of being turned into a casino. It was also in need of a facelift, a youthful and modern vision and an infusion of funds. Overwhelming. Bambi, however, hit the ground running and faced the first item on the agenda: a new lease.
“As head of the board, I presented to the newly-elected Mayor Isko Moreno our concept of upgrading the space and bringing it closer to the future. He liked what we showed him and saw how it will benefit not only the children of the City of Manila but all Filipino children here and abroad. He gave Museo Pambata a new 25-year lease, renewable for another 25! Pretty much a lifetime!” Bambi enthuses, the excitement in her voice impossible to hide, seeing as how long-range planning is now possible and how investors would be more enticed to give.
And then came Covid-19. “When the pandemic happened, we decided to do the exterior first,” says Bambi. With the approval from Mayor Isko (Museo’s honorary chairman, Manila being the owner of the prime land on which stands Museo Pambata) who Bambi describes as “very supportive”, the restoration efforts all moved outside to the Bakuran (the Filipino word for yard).
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