City of Manila

Roamer at the Palace: A day at the Malacañang Museum (Part 2)

The second level of Kalayaan Hall by itself has a colorful history; it is just proper that this particular area holds a lot of memorabilia related to Malacañang’s history.

Probably the most important area in this level, and perhaps of the whole Kalayaan Hall as well, is the Quezon Room, which used to be the Executive Office of the President of the Philippines. First used by Manuel Quezon, (after whom the room was made) it was was where the President would hold formal and official business. (today, these functions being held at the Palace building itself)

the president after Quezon Room was made

The centerpiece of this room is the old presidential desk, where presidents from Quezon to Marcos sat on and made decisions that have affected our country’s. It is said that it was on this same room where Ferdinand Marcos made the declaration of Martial Law in the country.

the old presidential desk
the chair where the most powerful in the country once sat on

Across the Quezon Room on the other end is the Roxas Room, which was used mainly by Manuel Roxas before for his Cabinet meetings, hence the name and the nature of the room mostly filled with Roxas memorabilia.

At the right is the Qurino Room, which was known as the Council of State Room where the President would meet with his advisers to discuss matters of the state.

But perhaps the most important area in the Museum other than the Quezon Room is the former Social Hall where gatherings and social functions were held before. It has now been converted as a big room filled with books, (the Museum by the way is also a Library which is a surprising fact)

Also on display are the various gifts given by various heads of states who visited the country before, as well as during state visits of the president to other countries.

And of course, various memorabilia of our country’s presidents.

Ramon Magsaysay’s polo barong
bust of Diosdado Macapagal
Ferdinand Marcos
a gown worn by Imelda Marcos
memorabilia of Corazon Aquino

One particular area which is of great significance is the balcony where Marcos made his “last stand” at the closing of the 1986 People Power Revolution.

the classic shot of Marcos’ last address in Malacañang in 1986. (courtesy of Getty Images)
marker at the balcony commemorating that event

At the end of the social hall is the Old Vice President’s Executive Office, now a room aptly dedicated to the Vice Presidents of the country.

the gallery of Philippine Vice Presidents

Right opposite the room is the staircase leading to the eastern end of Kalayaan Hall filled with some interesting pieces.

“letras y figuras” painting of Imelda Marcos, highlighting her achievements as First Lady: from buildings like the CCP and Philippine Heart Center to the Metro Aides that she put up when she was “Governor” of Metro Manila
the Philippine presidential seal during the time of Ferdinand Marcos
Corazon Aquino gallery

Back at the ground level, on the eastern end of the hall is the Press Office, where small conferences are still being held from time to time, as well as a studio used for the President’s TV programs.

gift of the Philippine Everest team who successfully climed Mt. Everest in May 2006

From what I understand, some pieces at the museum will be transferred to the National Museum, particularly the ones that are related to the Marcos administration (like the Letras Y Figuras painting of Imelda) out of “respect” to President Noynoy Aquino. I just hope that at least some, if not all, of those affected memorabilia be left where they are right now. After all, Marcos, no matter how we view that administration, is part of history that cannot be denied. Most importantly, the museum should be insulated from all things political and let it do its job of creating an unbiased perspective of things that will help in the formation of free thought among the people.

Most importantly, I hope President Aquino would maintain the museum for the present and future generations. Considering that the buildings in the Palace grounds can be used anytime for some function or as an office, it would be such a waste that such a landmark as the Malacañang Museum would be put to the sidelines.

This would have to be one of my most favorite spots in the city that one should not miss, even despite those appointment hassles. The experience of stepping in the country’s most prestigious place and looking at history itself is a priceless experience that everyone should enjoy.

For Part 1

Many thanks to Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks for the tour around Malacañang Museum. You can contact him through the link for details and reservations for the tour.

© The Urban Roamer

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