The Malacañang Museum tour is an immersion into Philippine history not accorded by books or Internet search. Collections of artifacts from the presidency of Emilio Aguinaldo to the present were curated for public viewing in the Presidential Museum and Library, currently housed in Kalayaan Hall. The tour provides a peek into the inner chambers and legacies of the 15 Filipinos who at one time or another held the highest office in the land. This explains why the public will not see Imelda’s fabled shoes or her European Masters’ art acquisition.
To secure a guided tour, the Inquirer Art Club went through the same procedure as anyone else: a) accomplish a reservation form downloaded from the museum website; b) submit the online form at least seven working days before the preferred time and date; and c) confirm by e-mail or phone call if the request has been approved. Foreigners must attach a photocopy of their passport’s main pages to their reservation form.
Guided tours are held Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are at P50 for adults, and P30 for students and senior citizens. Visitors must come on time and follow the smart casual dress code. Taking photos is allowed in the museum, but cameras are inspected at the entrance.
The museum’s contact details are (02)784-4286 local 4945 or 4645 / fax no. (02) 784-4286 loc 4722. You can also e-mail them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.malacanang.gov.ph
Crossing J.P. Laurel Street to Kalayaan Hall Built in 1921, Kalayaan Hall, elegant with its high-arched windows typical of the Renaissance-revivalist architecture, is Malacañang Palace’s oldest building. The largest room on the second floor, renovated and renamed Maharlika Hall during President Ferdinand Marcos’ time, served as venue for state dinners and citizens’ assemblies until 2002.
Today, it is the main gallery of the Presidential Museum and Library that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo initiated and President Aquino expanded. Memorabilia such as clothing, gifts and documents of current and past presidents of the Philippines are displayed here.
6 state rooms and 3 historic rooms of Kalayaan Hall displays memorabilia of 15 Philippine presidents
Ground floor office On a wall, paneled in hardwood with carvings by the renowned Filipino woodcarver Isabelo Tampinco, hang photographs of each Philippine president starting with the first Commonwealth President, Manuel L. Quezon. A visitor passes by the office before taking Malacañang Palace’s grand staircase.
Revisiting Sept. 23, 1972 President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in a nationwide TV broadcast in this room while sitting in this chair.
Used to be called the old Cabinet room where the American-era Cabinet and Council of State met from 1920 to 1939, it was renamed after President Sergio Osmeña who served from 1944 to 1946.
First Ladies Gallery The old Executive Secretary’s office has been converted into a showcase of the First Ladies’ memorabilia and their projects where they had a say, including the settings of state dinners.
Quezon Executive Office
Constructed between 1937 and 1939, it served as the executive office for presidents from 1937 to 1981. Named after Quezon, who was the first to use it, the room has an imposing crystal chandelier and is said to be the first air-conditioned room in the country.
Quirino Council of State Room
Completed in 1939 with Commonwealth-era conference table and Czech crystal chandelier, this was where then Vice President Elpidio Quirino took his oath of office in 1948 after the sudden death of President Manuel Roxas. Carlos P. Garcia also took his oath of office here in 1957 after the death of President Ramon Magsaysay in a plane crash. All treaties under the administrations of Roxas and Garcia, and conventions between the Philippines and foreign governments were signed in this room. In 2003, it was renovated and named after Quirino whose Amorsolo portrait now graces the room.
Roxas Cabinet Room
Built in 1937, it was last used by Roxas for Cabinet meetings. The room was named after him in 2003. Today, it is preserved as a meeting room with objects from the early part of the Third Republic, including a Roxas portrait by Amorsolo.
Cory Aquino Gallery Another room features the memorabilia of the 11th and first woman President, Corazon Aquino. On display are photographs, awards she received during and after her presidency, and her paintings.
Old Vice President’s Office
Done in 1939, these rooms served as the Vice President’s offices until martial law in 1972. It is located in the eastern part of the second floor.
Main Hall and Library-Gallery of Presidents
This used to be the location of eight guest bedrooms dating from the American era. First Lady Imelda Marcos renovated and transformed the place into one large room in 1968, calling it the Maharlika Hall. It was from its front west balcony that President Marcos took his last public oath of office and his farewell speech in February 1986 amid a people power revolt that ended his 21-year rule.
Today, it is the main hall of the Presidential Museum and Library with a side Gallery of Presidents’ memorabilia, objects and state gifts to the country’s presidents. Foremost of these gifts are two works of art: a classical nude sculpture carved in solid marble and a large oil mural by a European artist said to be a contemporary of Felix Hidalgo.