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A Malacañang Dream: Connecting with Philippine Presidents

After the Hortikultura Extravaganza Tour where I was able to see the house of former President Manuel L. Quezon, I found myself standing in front of the Malacañang compound ready to see what is inside the palace where the the country's most powerful people have lived. 

Malacañang Palace may not be as spectacular as England's Windsor Palace or America's White House, but it matters to set foot to this house as a native of the Philippines.

As offices were transferred into bigger spaces inside the compound, the old Malacañang Palace has been turned into a museum displaying artifacts that tell the bloody history of the archipelago. 

The Malacañang Museum and Library is open to public for those who want to see actual national memorabilia from all presidents, from Emilio Aguinaldo to the current Benigno Aquino.

After getting all our stuff checked for security purposes, our tour guide welcomed us into a hall containing campaign paraphernalia of national candidates and election results. It was only that time that I learned that former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada won by a huge difference.

When I saw the surname “Yolo”, I was reminded of my Grade 3 teacher Carmen Soliba back in Sagada, Mountain Province. According to my teacher, Yolo was one of the favorite politicians then.

Another hall contains a portrait of first ladies. I learned from the tour guide that the First Lady is being chosen by the President, so it does not necessarily mean that the wife of the president instantly wins the title. As per the current president’s case, he failed to name the First Lady, given that he is a bachelor (although he could name any of her sisters).

I thought the First Lady is only for ceremonial case, but we were told that the First Lady has also political responsibilities. I remember the tour guide at Quezon’s house saying Dona Aurora Quezon established the Philippine Red Cross as the First Lady.

Another hall has the table used by former President Ferdinand Marcos when he declared Martial Law. An old television set also sits at the corner playing footages of the Martial Law declaration. The tour guide identified the balcony where Marcos gave his final appearance after getting inducted as the winner of 1986 Presidential Election and fleeing to Hawaii due to the gigantic people power happening across the street.

Seeing that balcony, and a picture of the dictator standing in that same balcony with his ever-charismatic wife Imelda gave me a quick review of my history subjects in the academe.

A wide dance hall contains clothes of presidents and books. I giggled when I saw the green dress of former President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo she used when she took presidency after Erap’s fall.

I asked if the clothes were bought from the family of the presidents. According to the tour guide, these were given cooperatively like in the case of Quezon wherein his grandson Manolo Quezon provided the items.

All halls were given a name, but I do not like to remember these names because any president can literarry re-baptize the halls making the public confused.

We were led to a hall for the current president. Since PNoy has a limited number of items, tribute materials to her mother Corazon Aquino were put on display instead.

What is essential for me that afternoon was to get the clarification between the Malacañan and Malacañang terms. Malacañang refers to the residence of the president while Malacañang is the entire presidential office. 

As I step out of the Malacañang Museum, I felt I am truly connected to the country. Since I am raised in the mountains that is miles and miles away from the central government, my history is much different (no Spanish colonization, no Tagalog language, and we only know Gloria as the president because it was only her who visited us regularly). 

Thanks Deo de Guzman of RMN DZXL 558 Manila for arranging the tour- upon the request of fellow blogger Evo Contrivida.

Check out these pictures courtesy of Evo who was our official photographer during the tour:

Just like me, you can also tour Malacañang. Read through the text in the picture below courtesy of the presidential website, then CLICK here to know more.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


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