City of Manila

Malacañang from outside the gates

For a place as powerful and rich in history as Malacañang, it is somehow frustrating how much limited access an ordinary citizen has in visiting this place. While the restrictions are understandable given the importance of securing the country’s seat of power, it would have been nice if perhaps there can be some occasions when at least some more leeway can be given for citizens to get to see a bit more of Malacañang and the treasures the Palace holds.

Malacañan Palace, taken from the web

The ones on display right now at the Malacañang Museum at Kalayaan Hall are just a fraction of the rich art and historic heritage of Malacañang. The Palace building itself, AKA Malacañan, for instance holds some significant works of art like Juan Luna’s famed painting “The Blood Compact.”

Blood Compact by Luna (from Flickr) one of the many paintings on display at the Palace itself

Until we get to see more of Malacañang, for now we have to content ourselves with reading the excellent coffee table book “Malacañan: The Official Illustrated History” by Manolo Quezon, Pablo Alcazaren, and Jeremy Barns which is rich in photographs of the Palace of the old and of today.

At the same time, the Urban Roamer has to make do with what he has right now, which I hope would be of use to anyone who would like to know more about Malacañang.

Unfortunately, I could not find any good area map or vicinity map of Malacañang. I just had to do with customizing this shot from Google Earth of the Palace grounds and trying to point out the locations from what I know. So I apologize if the approximation of the locations are inaccurate. But it’s the best one can do.

But going back to the Malacañang complex, there are a number of other buildings on the complex that are of some interest. One of these is the Mabini Hall, located at the eastern end of the Palace complex, just right next door to St. Jude Church and Catholic School. Built around the 1930’s, this is the administration building which is where the Executive Secretary and some Presidential advisers and assistants.

Mabini Hall (from Panoramio)

There is also the Bonifacio Hall which was then the Premier Guest House which was used as office by Corazon Aquino and as residence by Joseph Estrada. Nearby the hall is a small mosque that was built in anticipation for the state visit of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, a visit that did not push through.

At the western end is the New Executive Building, which holds important history itself. This was actually where San Miguel Corporation (SMC) was first established and served before as the administration building of SMC. The government eventually bought the building as part of its expansion of Malacañang and was refurbished during the Corazon Aquino administration at a reportedly high cost that critics at the time dubbed it as the “Borloloy Building,” borloloy being the Filipino slang for lavish excessiveness.

Opposite the Malacañang complex, across the Pasig River is the Malacañang Park and Gardens, which also holds a golf course and a helipad. (I believe) Also located there is a small guesthouse called Bahay Pangarap, which would be Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s official residence once renovations are completed.

© The Urban Roamer

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