Malacañang Museum, San Miguel, Manila
The “common people” were given access to Malacañang Palace and its grounds after the Edsa Revolution. It was a hot topic back then and it was compared to the term of Pres. Ramon Magsaysay who also reportedly gave access to the Palace to the common “tao”. I remember our high school field trip which included Malacañang Palace in our itinerary. EDSA being called a People Power Revolution was probably an attempt during the tenure of Pres. Cory Aquino to bring the Palace closer to the people by giving them access through a tour of the premises. It was also probably to show the previous regimes lavish lifestyle which included among the highlights was former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection as well as other personal effects of the previous occupants. It was a guided tour and one has a carpeted path to walk- on which was something similar to Casa Manila. It was made more interesting because the guide also discussed the architectural details of the palace like for example from the chandelier to the wood carvings. Although I cannot recall back then if there was a fee, but one could just line up and pass through security to see the Palace. There was also a gift or souvenir shop back then.
I’m not sure if they still have the Palace tour, but they do have the Malacañang Museum open to the public . It is located in a separate structure but still within the same grounds or compound. Although as mentioned in my related blog entry here, one would need an appointment to go to this museum or another alternative is to join a tour that includes San Miguel district. This is one of the few museums in the country that allows you to take photos, even inside the museum itself. Visitors go through a security check and all cameras are inspected (and I do recommend bringing a camera.)
The Malacañang Museum is located in a handsome building which was built sometime in the 1920’s during the American colonial period. It’s called the (old) Executive Building or the Kalayaan Hall. The structure is surrounded by trees and by a huge lawn. Behind it is the Pasig River. The structure is arcaded and has a vaulted ceiling on the ground floor.
The exhibit is divided into the different time lines in our country’s history and also includes the country’s different Republic periods including the different presidential memorabilia.
The exhibit hall has also several books and Philippine related books (on the long table) that one could see and flip over the pages. The museum I found out, also happens to be a library.
The hall above was used for social functions and I believe was called the Main Hall. Next to this hall, there are the State Rooms, where former presidents held office and conducted state affairs. All these seems to be well preserved.
Among the exhibited museum items that I found interesting are:
This Japanese occupation era poster highlights important dates in the country’s struggle for freedom. One can see the bondage of colonialism and the road marked by different dates. On top (sorry for the reflection) is something similar to Lady Liberty but wearing either a Balintawak or Maria Clara dress.
Still a World War II related item, is this relief showing the Battle of Bataan with smoke coming out of the barrel of a blazing canon.
A beautifully carved rendition of the First Mass held in the country and the beginning of the Spanish colonial period.
Surprisingly, a well preserve black board rendering of what looks to be a chalk drawn map and plan (maybe a battle plan) from the time of the 1986 EDSA Revolution. It is showing parts of San Juan, (Metro Manila) and of course EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Ave.) On the right hand side are data with the names of Ramos and Enrile.
A modern version of a letras y figuras similar in style to the ones that 19th century artist Jose Honorato Lozano made. It spells out Mrs. Marcos’ name complete with her maiden name. It depicts scenes and landmarks of Ilocos province and it also shows her accomplishments with the different projects that she ordered built. Like the ill fated Film Center, CCP and the Heart Center among others shown in this unique visual art.
Saving the best for last is this detailed rendition complete with mole, of the second longest serving chief executive after Pres. Marcos. A doll figure in a captain’s uniform of Pres. Arroyo (now congresswoman) with Jesus Christ in the background and which seems to be guiding her. One of the person in our group has to call our attention regarding this piece and declared it the best in the exhibit, hands down.