Sunday, July 26, 2009

Learning a bit of history and finding fascinating details at the Malacañang Museum

malacanang museum old executive office ceiling detailThe first and last time i was in Malacañang was way, way back when i used to cover the news beat as a junior reporter for the Manila Standard. That was when Cory was president. In the ensuing years, there was little that interested me to go back to the grounds. riding the Pasig ferry a year or so ago, I saw the palace again, resembling the image on our twenty peso bill, only more expansive. It was photo-worthy but taking pictures was prohibited. About 2-3 weeks ago, i got another chance to revisit Malacañang, thanks to the invite of Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks, whose street walking historical tours will now include the area of San Miguel and Malacañang museum. And this time, cameras are allowed, wohoo!malacanang museum groundsOur starting point was at the La Cocina de Tita Moning along San Miguel street. This beautiful old house owned by the Legardas has served as an old-world fine dining restaurant for the past nine years but I digress. A short walk to the freedom park and we find ourselves at the Palace gates. Security is expectedly strict, with all bags subject to inspection and cameras have to be checked in and affixed with the PSG seal before entering. We were in luck because president GMA was actually around. she greeted us cordially while on her way to an adjoining hall.malacanang museum hallIvan regaled us with stories about the rooms, taking us from the old executive office and quirino rooms downstairs to the very big, very impressive museum hall upstairs, all the time presenting us with a virtual timeline of Philippine history from the pre-Spanish times to the American liberation right up to the present.malacanang museum trunk detailAs a photographer, I was torn between listening to Ivan's anecdotes and taking in so much details of the place. The museum is a veritable treasure chest of priceless memorabilia -- from a signed copy of El Filibusterismo (by no less than Rizal himself) to the peacock feather dress of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos. Coffeetable books were aplenty and there were more books on the shelves.malacanang museum hallway magsaysay statueAfter 4 hours of walking through the museum, we repaired to La Cocina for a "fine-dining-style merienda" of chicken galantina, tanglad iced tea, pudding and one of the best paellas I've ever tasted. a tour of the old house concluded the walking tour. It's a very enjoyable afternoon, if you'd ask me. certainly worth a whole lot more than a trip to the mall. it's also a shame to be living in Manila and never ever stepping into Malacañang or perhaps, not knowing its colorful history. For all its chaos, Manila has its lovely charms. So if you feel like taking a trip through time, back to the nostalgia of old Manila, why not come along with Ivan Man Dy (yep, he's the guy who showed Anthony Bourdain those nice Binondo eating places for his "No Reservations" episode on Philippine eats) for his "Power, palace and a shot of beer" tour of Malacañang Museum and the San Miguel district. And yes, a shot of beer is included in the itinerary.malacanang quirino room independence day posterFor details: visit www.oldmanilawalks.com, email fun@oldmanilawalks.com or call (632) 711.3823/0917.3291622 • tripods are not encouraged in the museum • wear comfortable footwear; no short shorts allowed for the tour. it's best to wear comfortable casual clothes.
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