History and Culture
5 Interesting Facts About the Malacañan: Home of the Philippine President
Choose Philippines | Jun 30, 2016
We have elected a new president, which means Malacañang Palace will welcome a new tenant who’ll be staying for six years. Malacañang has been the official residence of the presidency for approximately a century now; it has been through a lot over the years and its walls have served as the background to some truly remarkable stories. With its rich history, there’s so much to talk about Malacañang. Let’s run through a few things that you may not know about it.
Emilio Aguinaldo was imprisoned in Malacañang.
The Philippines’ first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, never resided in Malacañang. Instead, he was imprisoned there. Since the Americans were in charge of the building back in 1901, they held Aguinaldo here for a few weeks after being captured.
When Aguinaldo was president, he resided in his private home in Kawit, Cavite. Malacañang only became the official residence of the presidency after the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Former President Manuel Quezon was the first Filipino resident of the Palace.
The Marcoses gave it an extravagant facelift.
Since the Marcoses spent more than two decades residing in Malacañang, they were responsible for turning the presidential building into a real palace. Former first lady Imelda Marcos supervised the renovation that started in 1978; and it addressed problems such as leaky roofs and unstable floors. Of course, it also accommodated Mrs. Marcos’ lavish tastes. New suites were built, while older areas received significant face lifts. Pretty much all the rooms were bullet-proofed and air-conditioned. The overhaul was inaugurated in May 1, 1979, right in time for the Marcos couple’s silver wedding anniversary.
The extent of the excessive makeover was only revealed after the Marcoses were overthrown in 1986. It was then revealed that Malacañang housed luxurious fixtures such as a sunken bathtub with a mirrored ceiling and an altar with 19th-century religious statuary of ivory with gold-embroidered robes.
Only Gloria Arroyo has resided inside Malacañang since the President Marcos.
Due to the excessive revamp Malacañang received during the Marcos dictatorship, the succeeding president, Cory Aquino, opted to distance herself from the opulence by residing in the nearby Arlegui Guest House instead. Former President Fidel Ramos did the same; while former President Joseph Estrada chose to occupy the Premier Guest House. President Noynoy Aquino mirrored his mother’s decision by residing in Bahay Pangarap, where he also held office. Only former President Gloria Arroyo made Malacañang her home during her tenure.
Is it haunted?
There have been rumors about Malacañang being haunted. This isn’t surprising since it’s already more than a century old and has been home to several presidents now. In the past, several staff members claim to have seen ghosts of former presidents roaming around Malacañang. Moreover, former presidential daughter Imee Marcos stated before that she saw the ghost of former President Quezon in the study. The tales of paranormal activity is one of the reasons why President Duterte refuses to inhabit the presidential residence.
Which is it, really: Malacañan or Malacañang?
The Philippines’ seat of power is widely known as “Malacañang.” But throughout history, there has been confusion as to what exactly it should be called—Malacañan or Malacañang. In the Spanish colonial era, Spanish-language books spelled it as “Malacañang,” but the Americans changed this to “Malacañan” when they got here. It wasn’t until 1953 when former President Ramon Magsaysay reverted it back to “Malacañang.” During former President Corazon Aquino’s time, she decided to settle this matter once and for all. For historical reasons, she wanted both names to be used. “Malacañan” was to be used to refer to the official residence of the President while ”Malacañan” was to be used to pertain to the official office of the President.
So does that clear things up or make it more confusing?
Photos from Wikimedia and ABS-CBNnews.com. Story based on the article published by CNN Philippines.
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[Part 1 of 3: Aguinaldo to Roxas]
[Part 2 of 3: Quirino to Marcos]
[Part 3 of 3: Corazon Aquino to Benigno Aquino]