Malacañang Palace

The Malacañan Palace, commonly known simply as Malacañang, is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the Philippines. Located at 1000 J. P. Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila, the house was built in 1750 in Spanish Colonial style. It has been the residence of every Philippine head since Rafael de Echague y Berminghan. During the American period, Governors-General Francis Burton Harrison and Dwight F. Davis built an executive building, the Kalayaan Hall, which was later transformed into a museum.

Originally a summer house by Spanish aristocrat Don Luis Rocha, the house was sold to Colonel Jose Miguel Formente, and was later purchased by the state in 1825. Since 1825, Malacañan Palace became the temporary residence of every Governor-General. During the Spanish–American War, Malacañan Palace became the residence of the American Civil Governors, with William Howard Taft being the first American Governor resident. During the American period, many administrative buildings were constructed and Malacañan Palace was refurbished. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine President, was the only head of the state who did not reside in Malacañan Palace, instead residing in his own home, the Aguinaldo Shrine, located in Kawit, Cavite. The palace was seized by rebels several times, starting from the People Power Revolution, the 1989 coup attempt, where the palace was bombed by T-28 Trojans, the 2001 Manila riots, EDSA II and the May 1 riots.

The palace has been the residence of eighteen Spanish Governors-General, fourteen American Civil Governors and later all the President of the Philippines after independence, with the exception of Emilio Aguinaldo.

In Philippine politics, "Malacañang" has become a metonym for the presidency, the executive branch and the government.


The official etymology from the 1930s says that the name comes from a Tagalog phrase "May lakan diyan", which means "There is a nobleman there", as it was the home of a wealthy Spanish merchant before it hosted the Nation's chief executive. The Spanish themselves, on the other hand, say that the name came from the term "Mamalakaya," referring to the fishermen who once laid out their catch on the river bend where the Palace now stands. A more mundane claim is that the Palace actually got its name from the street where it was located, the Calzada de Malacañan.

The Rocha family cherish a legend that would have the word “Malacañan” as directly attributable to Luis Rocha himself. In a 1972 interview conducted by Ileana Maramag, Antonio Rocha related that his illustrious ancestor would take siesta in the house that he had built and that the Sikh watchman would hush noisy passers-by. Malakí iyán or “he is a big man” he would say, gesturing towards the house at the sleeping tycoon who would not be amused at being prematurely roused. In this way, the house and its immediate area came to be named.

Malacañan is on the right bank of the Pasig River, and there is a Tagalog word referring to “of the right,” which is malakánan. The river is somewhat long and meandering, with a correspondingly lengthy right bank. However, the river at Malacañan divides around the Isla de Convalecencia as it does nowhere else along its course. Hence, the need to make a distinction between left and right would seem to be most relevant at this very place. Perhaps then, Malacañan’s origin is as a point of reference in the lively and ancient traffic on the water of the Pasig river

Whatever its origin, the word Malacañang is indisputably Tagalog. Because the Spanish language avoids using "-ng" as the final sound of a word, the word Malacañang was Hispanicized into Malacañan. The Spanish version of the name was maintained during the American occupation of the Philippines from 1898 until 1946, despite the fact that "-ng" as a final sound is very familiar in the English language. "Malacañan" remains to this day an official English name for the Palace. However, during the presidency of Ramon Magsaysay in 1953, the Philippine government changed the name to Malacañang: Residence of the President of the Philippines in honour of Palace's historical roots.

Starting in 1986, during the presidency of Corazon Aquino, the distinction was made between Malacañan Palace as the designation for the official residence of the President, and Malacañang as shorthand for the Office of the President of the Philippines. The restoration of the designation Malacañan Palace was reflected in official stationery, and signage, including the backdrop for press briefings and conferences featuring the Pasig River façade of the Palace. In practice, official documents personally signed by the President of the Philippines bear the heading Malacañan Palace, while those delegated to subordinates and signed by them bear the heading Malacañang.


The Spanish Captains-General (before the independence of New Spain, from which the Philippines was directly governed) and then the Governors-General of the Philippines originally resided in the walled city of Intramuros, Manila, until an earthquake leveled the Palacio del Gobernador (Governor's Palace) in 1863. At this point, Malacañang Palace, a summer home originally built in 1750 by Spanish aristocrat Don Luis Rocha, then subsequently sold to Spanish Col. Jose Miguel Formente in 1802, and then purchased by the state in 1825, became the temporary residence of the Governors-General. Governor-General Rafael de Echague y Berminghan, previously governor of Puerto Rico, was therefore the first Spanish governor to occupy Malacañang Palace.

When the Philippines came under American rule following the Spanish-American War, Malacañang Palace became the residence of the American Governor-General. In 1900, William Howard Taft became the first American Civil Governor resident. The palace was expanded, and an Executive Building was added by Governors-General Francis Burton Harrison and Dwight F. Davis. The complex reverted to the President of the Philippines upon the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth on November 15, 1935. President Manuel L. Quezon became the first Filipino resident of Malacañang Palace (President Aguinaldo lived in his house in Cavite and took office at Barasoain Church); since then it has been the President's official residence. After his inauguration on December 30, 1953, President Ramon Magsaysay issued an Executive Order formally changing the name from "Malacañang Palace" to "Malacañang: Residence of the President of the Philippines." The new nomenclature rapidly caught on and was maintained until informally abandoned during the Marcos administration. During the administration of President Corazon Aquino, for historical reasons, government policy has been to make the distinction between "Malacañan Palace", official residence of the President and "Malacañang", Office of the President.

The Palace was made famous as the home of President Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, who were its longest residents, from 1965 to 1986. As First Lady, Mrs. Marcos oversaw the reconstruction of the Palace to her own extravagant tastes, including the former San Miguel Brewery Buildings which was demolished upon expansion, paving way to a park near the San Miguel Church. Following a student uprising that nearly breached the Palace gates in the early 1970s, martial law was declared, and the complex was closed to the public. When President Marcos was deposed in 1986, the Palace complex was stormed by the local populace, and the international media subsequently exposed the excesses of the Marcos family, including Mrs. Marcos' infamous collection of thousands of shoes.

After the People Power Revolution, the Palace was reopened to the public and was converted into a museum. Presidents Aquino and Fidel Ramos lived in nearby Arlegui Mansion but held government affairs in the Executive Building. After the Second EDSA Revolution, security in the Palace was tightened due to attempts against the government. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo resided again in the Palace and was known for founding the Malacañan Museum (formerly Kalayaan Hall). Aquino's son, President Benigno Aquino III currently resides in Bahay Pangarap, a nearby villa beside the Pasig River while keeping the Palace open to the public.

The Palace Halls
Entrance Hall

Official visitors to Malacañan use the Entrance Hall. Its floor and walls are of beige Philippine marble. Straight ahead are the doors to the Grand Staircase leading to the state reception rooms. On the left is the Palace chapel. The passage on the right leads to Heroes Hall.

The doors leading to the Grand Staircase depict the Philippine legend of Malakas (Strong) and Maganda (Beautiful), the first Filipino man and woman who emerged from a large bamboo stalk, according to Philippine mythology. The present resin doors were installed in 1979, replacing wrought iron and painted glass doors from the American period depicting Lapu Lapu and the other Mactan chieftains who felled Magellan.

A pair of lions used to stand guard on each side of the doors to the Grand Staircase. The lions were originally at the vestibule of the Ayuntamiento Building in Intramuros. They were apparently discarded during the 1978-79 renovations. Wooden benches dating back to the American Regime that were in the Hall were transferred to the private entrance that lead directly to the living quarters of the Palace.

Heroes Hall

From the Entrance Hall, one walks through a mirrored passage hung with about 40 small paintings of famous Filipinos painted in 1940 by Florentino Macabuhay.

The adjoining large room was originally the Social Hall, intended for informal gatherings. It was renamed Heroes Hall by First Lady Eva Macapagal, who commissioned Guillermo Tolentino to sculpt busts of national heroes.

In 1998, the National Centennial Commission installed three large paintings specially commissioned for the place. The one in the vestibule is by Carlos Valino, while the two others are by a group of artists headed by Karen Flores and Elmer Borlongan.

The painting in the vestibule is chronologically the second of the three, depicting events of the Propaganda Movement (Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Jose Rizal, etc.) and the Philippine Revolution from the formation of the Katipunan by Andres Bonifacio, the sewing of the Philippine flag, the Proclamation of Independence at Kawit, and the Malolos Congress. At Heroes Hall itself are the other two paintings.

As one enters from the vestibule, the painting on the left shows key events from the earliest times (arrival of the ancient Filipinos and the Manunggul Jar) through Lapu Lapu and the death of Magellan, the Muslim resistance to Spanish rule, the Basi Revolt, and Gabriela Silang, to the 1872 martyrdom of the priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora.

The painting on the right begins with the Battle of Tirad Pass and Gregorio del Pilar and other events of the Filipino-American War, the Independence Movement under Osmena and Quezon, events of the Japanese Occupation, and the Presidents of the Philippines all the way to the Marcoses, President Corazon Aquino, and President Ramos.

The Hall, as large as the Ceremonial Hall directly above, received a mirrored ceiling in 1979 and for the rest of the Marcos era was used not only for meetings and informal gatherings but also for state dinners in honor of visiting Heads of State.

Among the distinguished visitors entertained in this Hall by the Marcoses were the President of Mexico, the Prime Minister of Thailand and Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom. Dinner was usually followed by a cultural presentation, after which formal toasts were offered by the President and the guest of honor.

Grand Staircase

Past the Malakas and Maganda doors of the Entrance Hall is the Grand Staircase, made of the finest Philippine hardwood and carpeted in red. Its walls are made of tiny pieces of wood, assembled to simulate sawali panels. These were put up in 1979 replacing stucco and hardwood panels. At the top of the stairs is the landing that serves as vestibule to the Reception Hall.

The Spanish and American Governors General and Philippine Presidents and their visitors used this staircase. (Or, to be precise, the staircase that used to be there before the Marcos reconstruction.) There is a story that Jose Rizal's mother, Doña Teodora Alonzo Mercado, went up these stairs on her knees to beg then Governor General Camilo Polavieja for her son's life. The staircase is narrower than it used to be.

A legacy of the Spanish regime are unsigned portraits of Spanish conquistadors Hernando Cortes, Sebastian del Cano, Fernando Magallanes, and Cristobal Colon, hung at the balcony around the stairs. At the end of the balcony a magnificent harvest scene by Fernando Amorsolo hangs.

A large painting of the Nereids (sea nymphs) by noted Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla, donated by Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, noted San Francisco social and civic leader, of the Hawaii and California sugar Spreckels, used to hang in place of the Luna. A case of Marcos war medals, subsequently alleged to be fake, took its place towards the end of the Marcos Regime. The case continued to be on display, empty, for some years thereafter.

On the left as one reaches the top of the stairs, is the famous 'The Blood Compact,' still in its original carved frame. It was painted by Juan Luna in 1886 and given to the government in return for the artist's scholarship in Spain. The painting shows the Spaniard Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and the Bohol Raja Sikatuna drinking wine with drops of their blood. The model for Sikatuna (the helmeted man shown from behind at left) was Jose Rizal and the model for Legaspi (the Spaniard seated facing the viewer) was Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, Luna's uncle in law. Turning right, one sees the grand vista that is the length of the Reception Hall and the width of the Ceremonial Hall beyond.

The door on the left leads to the private quarters of the Presidential families. This wing contained the private dining and living rooms and two guest suites, used for meetings and waiting rooms in 1986-2001 when Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos lived in the Arlegui Guest House and President Estrada lived in the Premier Guest House. President Arroyo and her family live in this wing. The door straight ahead leads to a corridor that surrounds the inner court within the private quarters.

Reception Hall

Visitors assemble in this impressive room prior to a program or state function at the Ceremonial Hall beyond, or while waiting to be received by the President or the First Lady at the Study Room or the Music Room on the left, or before entering the State Dining Room on the right.

This room was the largest of the Palace before the 1979 renovation. Old photographs show President and Mrs. Manuel L. Quezon receiving guests close to the top of the Grand Staircase at New Year's Day 'at home' and other affairs. A Rigodon de Honor, a formal dance of Spanish Regime origin, would begin Balls, giving the most important couples present the opportunity to show off clothes and jewelry. Some ladies in that bygone era wore ternos only once.

Easily the most outstanding feature of the Reception Hall are the three large Czechoslovakian chandeliers bought in 1937. These have always been treasured and during the Second World War, were carefully disassembled prism by prism and hidden for safekeeping. They were taken out and reassembled after the war.

Official portraits of all Philippine Presidents are on the walls, from Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the Malolos Republic, to Benigno Aquino III, painted by Fernando Amorsolo, Garcia Llamas and other noted artists. The portrait of President Arroyo first hung in this hall was photograph taken by Rupert Jacinto. That of President Ramos is unique on three counts - it is on a narra plank rather than on canvas, the likeness as well as the decorations along the sides are painstakingly singed on the wood and it was a gift of the artist, Gaycer Masilang, a prisoner serving a life sentence.

An elaborate ceiling was installed in the 1930s, carved by noted sculptor Isabelo Tampingco who depicted vases of flowers against a lattice background. Large mirrors, gilt sofas and armchairs, and Chinese bronze pedestals holding plant and flower arrangements decorate the Hall. The Tampingco woodwork was curved and in some eyes gave the room a coffin shape. This is supposedly why in the 1979 renovation, the Tampingcos were replaced with two facing balconies.

Ceremonial Hall

This room, the largest in the Palace today, is also known as the Ballroom, used for state dinners and large assemblies, notably the mass oath takings of public officials begun by President Ramos. The upholstered benches are lined up for guests on such occasions. When the room is used for state dinners, the benches are removed and round tables set in place. Orchestras sometimes play from the minstrels' galleries at two ends of the hall.

Three large wood and glass chandeliers illuminate the Hall. Carved and installed in 1979 by the famous Juan Flores of Betis, Pampanga, the chandeliers are masterpieces of Philippine artistry in wood.

The Hall used to be much smaller and was in effect merely an extension of the Reception Hall. It had a coved ceiling similar to those of old Philippine homes, and glass doors opening to verandahs on three sides overlooking the Pasig and Malacañan Park. Many an al fresco party was held here, with round tables set on the azoteas and verandah for dinner and the Ceremonial Hall, doors thrown open, cleared for dancing. Fireworks lit the skies promptly at midnight from the Park across the river at New Year's Eve parties. The azoteas, verandas and the intimate pavilion in the middle were combined in 1979 into the present enormous Ceremonial Hall.

A recurring Palace ritual is the presentation of credentials when a new Ambassador arrives. During the Marcos Administration and prior to the 1979 renovation, new Ambassadors presented their credentials in an impressive ceremony. A flourish of trumpets accompanied the arriving Ambassador as he mounted the Grand Staircase and marched the full length of the Reception Hall. The yellow-gold curtains to the old Ceremonial Hall were parted to reveal the President standing alone at the far end, with members of the Cabinet lined up on the left. The Ambassador presented his documents of credence to the President, who handed them to the Foreign Secretary. The President then delivered his welcome speech and offered a champagne toast to the head of state of Ambassador's home country. The Ambassador then delivered his response, offered a toast to the President, and after small talk, left in another burst of trumpets.

Presidents Corazon Aquino and Ramos were less formal, receiving new Ambassadors in the Music Room without ceremony. The old rituals were revived by President Estrada, when an arriving diplomat disembarked from his car at General Solano Street and boards what is called a chariot, a luxurious open jeep where the occupant stands on a red carpet holding onto a stout bar while progressing up J.P. Laurel Street to the Palace grounds. He received military honors in the garden outside the main entrance and to fanfare, is escorted up to the Reception Hall. He marched through two columns of guards in gala uniform to present his credentials to the waiting President.

State Dining Room

The State Dining Room is used mainly for Cabinet Meetings. In the past, this was where Presidents dined with state guests and official visitors. A long adjustable table could accommodate up to about fifty guests. The President would sit at the center of the table and the First Lady across from him. The best glass (Irish Waterford and French St. Gobain) and china (Limoges and Meissen) were brought out on special occasions. The chandeliers are Spanish, from the Ayuntamiento de Manila as are the gilded mirrors that seem have been here since the Spanish Regime. When Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in Palanan, Isabela he was jailed in what is today the State Dining Room.

Before the 1935-37 renovations, this room was the ballroom of the Palace. It was also where General Emilio Aguinaldo was kept prisoner after his capture by the Americans.

One of the most dramatic scenes in Palace history occurred here. In The Good Fight, President Quezon wrote that "in April 1901, I had walked down the slopes of Mariveles Mountain, a defeated soldier, emaciated from hunger and lingering illness, to place myself at the mercy of the American Army." Suffering from malaria, he was also instructed to verify that Aguinaldo had in fact been captured. In Quezon's words,

... I was ushered into the office of General Arthur MacArthur, the father of the hero of the Battle of the Philippines. ... ... told General MacArthur in English what I had said in Spanish, namely, that I was instructed by General Mascardo to find out if General Aguinaldo had been captured. The American General, who stood erect and towered over my head, raised his hand without saying a word and pointing to the room across the hall, made a motion for me to go in there. Trembling with emotion, I slowly walked through the hall toward the room hoping against hope that I would find no one inside. At the door two American soldeiers in uniform, with gloves and bayonets, stood on guard. As I entered the room, I saw General Aguinaldo the man whom I had considered as the personification of my own beloved country, the man whom I had seen at the height of his glory surrounded by generals and soldiers, statesmen and politicians, the rich and the poor, respected and honored by all. I now saw that same man alone in a room, a prisoner of war! It is impossible for me to describe what I felt, but as I write these lines, forty-two years later, my heart throbs as fast as it did then. I felt that the whole world had crumbled; that all my hopes and dreams for my country were gone forever! It took me some time before I could collect myself, but finally,I was able to say in Tagalog, almost in a whisper, to my General: Good evening, Mr. President.

Two paintings dominate the room. The larger is a fiesta scene by National Artist Carlos Botong Francisco - a pair of tinikling dancers, a serenade, churchgoers, boatmen, and other vignettes of rural life.. Commissioned for the Manila Hotel, it originally hung in one of the Hotel lobbies but was transferred to Malacañan in 1975. The other painting is an early Amorsolo rural scene.

The room was widened and a mirrored ceiling installed in 1979. Previously, there was a long dining table at center and the decorations consisted of heavy crimson velvet curtains, large gilded mirrors and elaborate chandeliers.

Beyond is a smaller room, just as long but narrower than the dining room. Intended for Cabinet meetings and film showings, the room proved rather small and was rarely used as such. The room, called the Viewing Room, was more frequently used to hold buffets for people meeting in the State Dining Room. Another 1979 innovation, this occupies what was a verandah overlooking the Palace driveway and garden.

Rizal Room

Formerly known as Study Room, this was where Presidents from Quezon to Marcos and then Ramos received their daily stream of callers. There is a large chandelier from the 1935-1937 renovations. President Arroyo made it into a conference room with the Council of State table of the Commonwealth as centerpiece, until she finally restored the room to its original function. The room today has been restored to its traditional function as the President's office. Of interest is the presidential desk used by all the Presidents from Quezon to Marcos (Marcos had an ornately carved top added to the desk in 1969). President Arroyo restored the use of the desk since most of her predecessors, including her father, used it.

The Music Room

Room usage changed over the years. A bedroom during the American period, it was turned into a library and reception room during the Commonwealth; after the War, it eventually became the Music Room. First Ladies customarily received callers in this room. A Luna masterpiece, 'Una Bulaquena' hangs above the grand piano. 'A Cellist,' painted by Miguel Zaragoza, hangs as its pendant across the room above the sofa. The wall niches now hold Chinese trees and flowers made of semi precious stones, where there used to be Guillermo Tolentino sculptures representing the different fine arts and later, large Ming and Ching porcelain vases. A supposed Michelangelo, a stone head, was once here.

Mrs. Marcos decorated the room in mint green. She would sit on the antique French sofa and the visitors on the armchairs. On rare occasions, small concerts were held here, featuring famous Filipino and foreign musicians.

The room immediately behind the Music Room was fixed up by Mrs. Marcos as her office. It later became President Fidel Valdes Ramos' private office. The room beyond it was originally a small sitting room and was converted by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada into his own office. President Arroyo decided also to use the room as her office at first. Today the room is used by the President to receive visitors.

Private Quarters

The Palace has always been impressive, particularly the grand reception rooms. Presidents' families have not always been happy, however, over the domestic concerns of bedroom size, privacy, closet space, ventilation, color scheme, and so on.

Each new presidential couple took their pick of the available bedrooms, each President frequently avoiding the bedroom of his predecessor. A President with many children or grandchildren usually had problems, particularly when a foreign head of state arrived, expecting to be invited to stay in the Palace such as when Indonesian President Sukarno visited President Quirino shortly after the war.

The Pasig River, cleaner in the 19th century, had by the 1970s developed a foul odour and became the breeding ground for mosquitoes. The series of renovations and repairs of a century resulted in unstable floors and leaky roofs. Allegedly paranormal activity was also reported as occurring in the Palace, including one that some identified to be the long deceased valet of President Quezon, who occasionally ministered to favored guests.

With three grown children, leaky roofs, noisy air conditioners, and cramped space, the Marcos family decided to expand the Palace in 1978. As with most renovation projects, one thing led to another until the entire façade of the Palace towards J.P. Laurel Street was pushed forward, as were other sections. The bedrooms of President and Mrs. Marcos were enlarged and suites were built for their children Ferdinand, Jr., Imee, Irene, and their niece Aimee. The private living room was expanded and the entire private quarters generally added to or enlarged resulting in the present-day structure.

The rooms are large and impressive, furnished expensively and equipped with central air conditioning and air filters, but are not quite the stupendous rooms that 'in comparison make Versailles Palace look like a hovel,' as a foreign observer declared. The Spanish Period Malacañan probably centered on the small, open-roofed inner court that leads to all areas of the private quarters.

Many personalities have stayed at Malacañan over the years. It is recounted that the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, dropped by in the 1920s to play polo. Another guest in April 1901 was Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, who was taken to the Palace for a few weeks after his capture at Palanan, Isabela. American and Asian Presidents have stayed at Malacañan on visits to Manila.

The rooms opening to the Grand Staircase were the Dining and Living Rooms and Guest Suites of the Marcos period. These became meeting rooms during the Ramos and Estrada administrations and reverted back to being the private quarters of the Presidential Family under President Arroyo.

Reception Room. This was the Family Dining Room of Presidential families until the 1979 renovation. It used to have a magnificently carved ceiling, coffered in the Filipino-Spanish style. The famous painting of Fabian de la Rosa, 'Planting Rice,' used to hang on one wall. Other paintings, notably those by Fernando Amorsolo, were here and in the adjoining room.

The room beyond was used by the Marcos family variously as Private Living Room and a chapel and then became Meeting Room No. 1 in the Corazon Aquino, Ramos and Estrada presidencies. A large Botong Francisco painting of dancers is on one wall. Brought from the Manila Hotel, this artwork is pair to the one in the State Dining Room.

Suites. Bedroom suites (one baptized by Mrs. Marcos as the King's Room and another the Queen's Room) open from the former private dining room, between which is a small skylit room that used to be a courtyard. These are furnished with large canopied beds, gilded wardrobes and the like. The King's Room leads to the balcony over the main entrance, from which Pope John Paul II blessed a waiting crowd during his 1981 Philippine visit and which President Arroyo confides was her bedroom as the young daughter of President Diosdado Macapagal.

Discotheque. A third floor, added in 1979, has a roof garden and discotheque. Reached by elevator, the disco is immediately above President Marcos' bedroom. It was complete with strobe and infinity lights, fog equipment, and the latest in music equipment. A wide waterfall-fountain plays on the terrace outside the disco and steps lead up to a rooftop helipad. It has apparently been disused since 1986. During the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, it was renovated into a Music Hall.

Mabini Hall

It began as the Budget Building with the creation of the Budget Commission (now the Department of Budget and Management) in 1936. After World War II, it housed, for a time, the Supreme Court, as the Ayuntamiento de Manila had been destroyed during the Battle for Manila in February, 1945. In the postwar years it was later expanded on either side to form a greatly enlarged Administration Building containing the majority of administrative offices in the Palace compound. Plans to demolish it and build a high rise building in its place after it was gutted in a fire in 1992 were completely dropped due to budgetary constraints. President Fidel V. Ramos supervised its reconstruction as a spartan but well-ventilated and lit office complex, and renamed it Mabini Hall.

It is the current Administration Building. A New Executive Building was also built by President Corazon Aquino in 1989. Additionally there are other, smaller buildings. Across the river is Malacañan Park, which contains a golf course, recreation hall, park, billets for the presidential guard, as well as a Commonwealth-era presidential resthouse (Bahay Pangarap), which serves as the current residence of President Benigno Aquino III.

Administration and Executive Buildings

The central portion of the Administration Building or Mabini Hall, the large structure on the left upon entering Gate 4, was built shortly before the Second World War for the Budget Commission. It was enlarged after the war, with wings on both sides and top floors added. It houses the Office of the Executive Secretary, some units of the Department of Budget and Management, and offices of Presidential Assistants and Advisers. Some offices in this building, particularly those of the Office of Media Affairs, were invaded by an unruly mob on the evening of February 25, 1986, during the storming of Malacañang that capped the 'People Power Revolution.' The Old Executive Building or Kalayaan Hall, elegant with its high arched windows, was constructed in 1920 and enlarged over the years until 1939. The Building held the Office of the Press Secretary and other offices on the ground floor till early in the Arroyo administration. Maharlika Hall is on the second floor, a large room used for socials and meetings. An elegantly paneled office on the second floor used to be the President's Executive Office until President Marcos began to use the Study Room (now Rizal Room) of the Palace itself. Until 1972, the second floor was a warren of offices, including those of the Executive Secretary and the Vice President. This was where former United States President Dwight Eisenhower worked here as a Major in the U.S. Armed Forces and military adviser to the Commonwealth government. On the other side of the Palace grounds, beyond the President's Residence is the New Executive Building, christened 'Borloloy Building' by columnist Luis Beltran at the time it was refurbished. This was the administration building of San Miguel Corporation until bought by government. Mmes. Ramos and Estrada, as well as various Presidential Assistants and Advisers held office in the building. Across the street is a Spanish colonial period house, adapted to office use as the 'Ugnayan Building.'

The Presidential Study

It is the official office of the President, equivalent to the United States' Oval Office of the White House. It is currently on the second floor of the Palace itself, while the old Executive Office at Kalayaan Hall (the old Executive Building) has been renamed the Quezon Room. The desk is the presidential desk in use since the Commonwealth of the Philippines, when the official desk of the American governor-generals was brought to the United States; it was used by all presidents from Quezon to Marcos (officially until 1978, then in his private study), restored by President Ramos, used by President Joseph Estrada, and restored once more by President Arroyo.

New Executive Building

In 1936, President Manuel L. Quezon first proposed the purchase of the nearby San Miguel Brewery as additional office space. President Ferdinand E. Marcos initiated plans to transform it into an integral part of the Palace. However, it was under President Corazon C. Aquino that its reconstruction and refurbishing as the New Executive Building took place. Its architectural elements deliberately pay homage to the Palace of the Third Republic. Its utilitarian nature, however, made possible much needed additional administrative space, although its newness and lack of proximity to the Palace led to the resumption of the use of the Palace itself by Aquino’s successors, starting with President Fidel V. Ramos. Currently, it houses the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, Presidential Communications Operations Office, and the Malacañang Press Briefing Room.

Kalayaan Hall

The Renaissance-revivalist architecture of Kalayaan Hall, now the oldest part of the Palace, combines the histories of the American, Commonwealth, and Second and Third Republics, on the grounds of the picadero pavilion of the Spanish period. It once glittered with Romblon marble embedded into the concrete of its façade, but subsequent coats of white paint since the 1960s have obscured this. Kalayaan Hall is today one of the most intact pre-war public buildings in the Philippines and has withstood the test of time, serving as link between the old and the new. The precast ornamentation, elaborate wrought iron porte-cochere and balconies, the loggias and high cellings ideal for the circulation of air under tropical conditions, all created a building of imposing appearance. For generations, the executive functions of the Philippine state were conducted in this building. The main hall at the second floor of Kalayaan Hall was once the location of the guest bedrooms during the American era, and then of offices for the Office of the President during the Commonwealth. In 1968, it was cleared and renovated to form a large room called Maharlika Hall. It became the site for State Dinners and Citizens’ Assemblies during the Marcos administration. It was from the front west balcony of this hall that President Marcos took his last public oath of office and delivered his farewell speech on February 25, 1986. It was subsequently used as the Office of the Press Secretary until 2002, when it was transformed into the main gallery of the Presidential Museum and Library, with parts of the old state dining table in the center, as well as the Gallery of Presidents, which is composed of objects and memorabilia – including clothing, personal effects, gifts, publications and documents – pertaining to the fifteen persons who have held the Presidency.

The Malacañang Museum

The Malacañang Museum is the official repository of memorabilia of the President of the Philippines it located in Kalayaan hall. It features exhibits and galleries showcases the heritage of the Presidents beginning from Emilio Aguinaldo to Benigno Aquino III, as well as the artwork and furniture from the Palace collections. It is located inside the Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall, the old Executive Building built in 1920

The Former Presidential Museum

The Quezon, Osmena, Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, and Garcia Rooms of the Presidential Museum under the Ramos and Estrada administrations occupied the suites formerly allotted to the Marcos children (Ferdinand, Jr., Imee and Irene) which open from the inner court corridor. Most of these rooms were added in 1978 when the J.P. Laurel front of the Palace was moved forward.

The first in the series was the Magsaysay Room, furnished as the entrance lobby to the private quarters. The Garcia Room was a game room, containing chess sets that President Garcia owned and which were lent by his family. These and the other President's rooms included portraits, furniture and memorabilia on loan from the President's families.

The former bedroom of Ms. Imee Marcos had a beautiful antique gilded arch made by Isabelo Tampingco, carved to represent a coconut tree complete with fruit and leaves. Shelves held her collection of 19th century French porcelain dolls. At one time, now Senator Ferdinand 'Bong Bong' Marcos lived elsewhere and used his room to practice golf. Nets were hung on all walls to catch flying balls.

Laurel Room. The Marcoses made this room into a library with bookcases on all sides. It was used to exhibit memorabilia of President Jose P. Laurel.

Aguinaldo Room. Furnished as a dining room with the Malolos Congress table borrowed from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and an original flag used during the Philippine Revolution (captured by an American soldier and returned, decades after, by his descendants), this room was at one time the Marcos Family Chapel. Antique and modem religious images were arranged around the room, including figures of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz. There was an exquisite silver altar frontal, probably dating from the 18th century. President Marcos had numerous devotions, including one to Blessed Martin de Porres.

The Ramos Room. The dressing room of Mrs. Marcos adjoined her bedroom and has windows opening to the garden and J.P. Laurel Street. Together with the large walk-in vault for valuables, it is now used to display Ramos memorabilia.

The Marcos Room. The room contains Marcos memorabilia, including a whiteboard on which is drawn a map of Camp Crame, evidently used in February 1986 to devise or present a plan to attack the Enrile-Ramos forces. This was the bedroom-sitting room of Mrs. Marcos. Almost as large as that of President Marcos', it had a large bed with pina cloth bedspread and cushions. From the canopy was hung a mosquito net, arranged in Spanish Regime style. A railing surrounded the bed, reminiscent of the state bedrooms at European palaces. There was an Austrian Bosendorfer grand piano, regarded as among the best concert pianos in the world. A similar piano was at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The bathroom (not open to visitors) is accented in green malachite, the bathtub surrounded by a mural of Olot Beach in Mrs. Marcos' native Leyte province. Concealed doors lead to a walk-in safe that once contained Mrs. Marcos' fabled jewels and to a staircase leading to the ground floor room that contained Mrs. Marcos' clothes and accessories, including ternos and the much publicized 3,000 shoes (actually 1,500 pairs). The Quezon bedroom was on this site.

The Macapagal and Estrada Room. Memorabilia of President Macapagal and exhibits on President Estrada were exhibited in this large room, formerly the bedroom of President Marcos. With windows to the Palace garden and the Pasig River, the room used to have a large bed with an elaborate headboard and a round canopy that held a mosquito net. The Palace, ironically, needed mosquito nets - it must have been tough to catch even one in such large and high rooms. A desk, video equipment and medical paraphernalia completed the room's furnishings. President Marcos apparently liked to have his grandchildren sleep with him in this room, on mattresses laid out on the floor.

The en suite bathroom (closed to visitors) is large, its bathtub surrounded by a mural of Paoay Lake which is near President Marcos' native Batac. The view is the same as that seen from the Presidential Rest House, 'Malacañang ti Amianan' or Malacañang of the North.

The Corazon Aquino Room. This was the Marcos Family Dining Room, with a kitchen alcove behind a sliding screen. Mrs. Marcos liked to cook and frequently did so in this kitchen for family members and close friends. With numerous family recipes, she liked to improvise. Bacalao was a favorite.

Bonifacio Hall

The first major change after the imposition of martial law was the transformation in 1975 of the servant’s quarters to what would become known as the Premier Guest House. The building would become the temporary residence of the Marcos family in 1975, when repairs were made to the Palace after a fire, and during the rebuilding of the Palace in 1978 and during the refurbishing and repair of the Palace in the remaining years of the Marcos presidency. President Corazon C. Aquino used this building as her office from 1986 to 1992. The Ramos administration relegated this building to secondary status despite its integration into the New Executive Building. It was renovated in 1998 as a residence for President Joseph Estrada and his family. In 2003, President Gloria Macapagal– Arroyo renamed this building Bonifacio Hall in honor of its plebeian roots. It presently houses the private office of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The Premier Guest House

The glass fronted building across the garden from the Palace's main entrance has a checkered history. Originally built by the American Governors General as servants' quarters to screen off Malacañang from the brewery (San Miguel) next door, the building was remodeled into the Premier Guest House in 1975, for use during the IMF-World Bank Boards of Governors Meeting. The Marcoses lived there while the main Palace was being reconstructed in 1978-79, again after a Palace fire in 1982, and when the air purification system was being improved in 1983.

Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos held office in the building. Unknowingly, President Corazon Aquino's office was the bedroom of President Marcos at the time that Ninoy Aquino met an untimely end in 1983. It became Presidential office and residence under President Estrada. His and Mrs. Estrada's bedroom was on the second floor, where Pres. Marcos' bedroom and President Corazon Aquino's office were. Pres. Estrada's office was on the ground floor.

The front of the building facing the garden is a two-story high reception area, with a staircase in the center that leads to the corridor above. The President's office was on the ground floor, near the stairs. On the floor above were bedrooms and the family dining room.

Palace Guesthouses

There were various other guesthouses in addition to the Premier Guest House.

One is located on Arlegui Street half a block away, a remodeled and enlarged 1930s mansion owned by the Laperal family. It later housed the Japanese Embassy, the National Library and the Presidential Economic Staff, one of the agencies that was later merged with another to constitute the present National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Mrs. Marcos doubled the size of the mansion when it was converted to a guesthouse; it now has two towers where it used to have one. Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos lived here during their terms of office.

Two Spanish Regime houses on Gral. Solano Street were bought by the Marcoses in the 1970s and remodeled also into guesthouses and office of the Marcos Foundation.

The Goldenberg Mansion (so called after the previous owners) was informally referred to by Mrs. Marcos as the 'big antique.' A historic structure built by the Eugster family (probably Spaniards long returned to Spain) about a hundred years ago, it was the office of the Marcos Foundation, a cultural heritage structure. It was a combination residence and shampoo factory when bought by the Marcoses and exquisitely restored by Architect Leandro Locsin in 1971.

It held Mrs. Marcos' collection of excavated porcelain and pottery, Ban Chieng prehistoric pottery from Thailand and Filipiniana book rarities, and treasures such as a statue from Angkor and Chinese jade furniture.

The Teus house next door was purchased and converted to a guesthouse in 1974, under the supervision of decorator Ronnie Laing. It has a large living-dining area that held a display of antique European silverware (since sold at auction), including some by famous 18th and 19th century silversmiths Paul de Lamerie and Paul Storr. Much of these were apparently given to the Marcoses on their silver wedding anniversary.


The extensive grounds of Malacañang comprise one of the few parks in Manila, with tropical shrubbery, century old acacia trees, and even a balete or two. The acacias are festooned with the cactus like 'Queen of the Night.' The broad lawns, lush trees and greenery indicate how Manila may have been when it was less populous and times were more leisurely.

The public garden now known as 'Freedom Park' fronts the Administration and Executive Buildings. It has statues symbolizing the four freedoms (religion, expression, want and fear), that were brought to Malacañang from the Manila International Fair of the 1950s. The statues were long forgotten at the cogon field that Rizal Park then was, when First Lady Eva Macapagal retrieved them. An Art Deco fountain of the 1930s still plays near the main Palace entrance. Cannon and lampposts dating from the Spanish Regime accent odd corners.

There is a little mosque by the river, beside the Premier Guest House, built for a state visit by Libya President Ghadaffi, who never arrived. A bamboo teahouse, built in 1948 as a rest house, no longer exists, but it used to be by the river, near where the swimming pool now is.

Malacañang Park, across the river, adjoins the Mabini Shrine and the former quarters of the Presidential Security Command and of the National Intelligence and Security Agency. The Park used to be rice fields and grasslands of Pandacan, since the 1930s developed to its present form. It boasts a Recreation Hall, a small golf course and 'Pangarap,' a guesthouse where Dona Josefa Edralin Marcos lived for some time. The first tee of the golf course is at the main Palace grounds. A golfer is expected to clear the Pasig, to hole no. 1 on the other side.

Featured in Malacañang legends is the large balete at the main entrance and its reputed resident capre. Usually lit with capiz globes, it is hung with multicolored star lanterns at Christmas. Just once, it was lit with thousands of flickering fireflies, captured in some distant town where fireflies still abounded and released as a grand ephemeral gesture of a present for the then First Lady.

Malacañang Park and the Bahay Pangarap

Malacañang Park was created when rice fields on the south bank of the Pasig River across from the official residence of the President of the Philippines were acquired on orders of President Manuel L. Quezon in 1936-1937. Intended as a recreational retreat, the main features of the planned complex for the park were three buildings: a recreation hall used for official entertaining, a community assembly hall for conferences with local government officials, and a rest house directly opposite the Palace across the Pasig River which would serve as the venue for informal activities and social functions of the President and First Family.

The buildings constructed by the Bureau of Public Works were the product of designs by Architect Juan Arellano and Antonio Toledo. The prewar park contained, in addition to the rest house, community assembly hall, and recreation hall, a putting green, stables, and shell tennis courts.

President José P. Laurel had the putting green expanded into a small golf course after an assassination attempt on him in Wack-Wack golf course. The existing gazebo in the golf course dates to the Laurel administration.

President Manuel Roxas further improved the golf course in Malacañang Park as well as maintaining a truck garden as part of the food self-sufficiency program of his administration.

During the administration of President Ramon Magsaysay An estero was filled in joining the properties of Malacañang Park and the Bureau of Animal Industry, as part of a GSIS housing project for presidential guards and other workers.

The Park grounds were refurbished through the efforts of First Lady Eva Macapagal in the early 1960s. She renamed the rest house Bahay Pangarap (House of Dreams). In the subsequent presidency of Ferdinand E. Marcos, Malacañang Park became increasingly identified with the Presidential Guards. It was during the Marcos administration that the Bureau of Animal Industry building became the headquarters of the Presidential Guards (today as the Presidential Security Group). Gen. Fabian Ver gained jurisdiction over some of the historic buildings, including the recreation hall, which became (and remains) the PSG gymnasium, and the community assembly hall which was turned into the presidential escorts building.

Under President Fidel V. Ramos, the Bahay Pangarap was restored and became the club house of the Malacañang Golf Club (the old Club House had become the residence of President Marcos’ mother, Mrs. Josefa Edralin Marcos). Restoration was supervised by Architect Francisco Mañosa at the initiative of First Lady Amelita Ramos and inaugurated as the New Bahay Pangarap on March 15, 1996 as an alternate venue for official functions in addition to recreational and social activities.

In 2008, the historic Bahay Pangarap was essentially demolished by Architect Conrad Onglao and rebuilt in contemporary style (retaining the basic shape of the roof as a nod to the previous historic structure), replacing, as well, the Commonwealth-era swimming pool and pergolas with a modern swimming pool. It was inaugurated on December 19, 2008 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at a Christmas reception for the Cabinet. Administrative Order No. 251, issued on December 22, 2008, placed the administration of Bahay Pangarap under the Internal House Affairs Office of the Office of the President of the Philippines.

Malacañang Park has always been a recreational park, and is not a military facility. The facilities and area of the PSG are distinct from the demarcation of Malacañang Park (see attached map, circa January 23, 1940, soon after its completion, delineating Malacañang Park, including Bahay Pangarap).

President Benigno S. Aquino III thus becomes the first President of the Philippines to make Bahay Pangarap his official residence, although previous presidents have stayed there. Despite living at his private residence at the start of his term, he has since occupied the house as of August, 2010.

Malacañang Grounds

Laperal Mansion or the Arlegui Guest House. The Laperal Mansion is located along Arlegui Street. When World War II broke out, it served at one point as the residence of the speaker of the National Assembly established by the Japan-sponsored Second Philippine Republic who happens to be Benigno Aquino Sr., the grandfather of current Philippine president Benigno Aquino III. It also served as the chancellery of Germany in the country when it was still under Nazi rule. When the war ended, it served for a short while as the National Library. It may be around the postwar era that the Laperal family got to acquire the property but in 1975, they got kicked out of the property by presidential security as the Marcos government confiscated it for “security reasons”. Now property of the Office of the President, the house became the office of the Presidential Economic Staff (precursor of today’s National Economic Development Authority) before First Lady Imelda Marcos decided to expand the house to grander proportions in order for it to become a guesthouse.

Then People Power Revolution erupted in 1986 ousting former president Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino assumed the position of the presidency. As a symbolic gesture, she refused to live in Malacañang as her predecessors have; she chose to stay in the Arlegui Guesthouse instead. Her successor, Fidel Ramos, followed suit and also made Arlegui his residence. During Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term, the house became the Office of the Press Secretary.

Legarda Mansion was built in 1937 by Doña Filomena Roces Y de Legarda, the Legarda house was one of the first art deco houses built in Manila. In this house, Alejandro Legarda (son of Doña Filomena) lived with his wife Ramona Hernandez, and their four children. Doña Ramona was well-known for her lavish parties, the Legarda house is a tribute to Doña Ramona (Moning), as it houses La Cocina de Tita Moning, a fine dining restaurant that aims to recreate the wonderful parties of Manila’s most elegant era, using heirloom recipes of the Legardas, served on antique china, glassware, and silverware. The living room with paintings by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and Juan Luna, Don Alejandro’s collection of antique radio equipment, a dressing room showcasing the memorabilia of the Legarda women, and the dining room where banquets are held.

Goldenberg Mansion built sometime around the 19th century by the Eugster family. served as home of the Spanish Navy Admiral and the Spanish Royal Navy Club from 1897-98. When the Americans arrived, the house served as the home and headquarters of the US Military Governor Arthur MacArthur, father of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. This also served as the session floor of the Philippine Senate for its historic first session in 1916. Later on, it was bought by cosmetics manufacturer Michael Goldenberg (hence its name) and was eventually bought by the Philippine Government under the Marcos regime in 1966.

National Artist and Imelda Marcos’s favorite architect Leandro Locsin did the restoration of the house which became the home of a lot of antique furniture, pottery, and books from here and other parts of the world. Until now, it is still used occasionally for official functions. It’s a shame though that access to this place is restricted and not many get the opportunity to see artifacts like Chinese jade furniture, European chandeliers, rare Filipiniana books, even a prehistoric Thai pottery piece to name a few. If you’ve been to Malacañang Museum and have marvelled at the treasures there, what more if one gets to see what’s inside the Goldenberg Mansion.

Teus House. Nothing much is known about it except that it was bought by the Marcos government around the same time and was converted into a guesthouse in 1974. A well-known Manila decorator named Ronnie Laing supervised the interior design of the mansion and when the Marcoses’ silver wedding anniversary was celebrated in 1979, the anniversary gifts coming from friends were kept in this house. Some of these gifts can still be found in the house. Unfortunately, we cannot be able to view these treasures due to restrictions in place, as with the other Office of the President-owned houses in the area.

Valdes Mansion along San Rafael St. in San Miguel, near the Plaza Aviles/Freedom Park. Unlike the aforementioned mansions, it has not been as much preserved from the looks of it. Nevertheless, it currently serves as one of the offices of the Palace security.

Presidential Broadcast Staff Radio Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM) was organized in 1986 following the peaceful EDSA revolt. Before 1986, the organization that existed was Radio-Television-Movies, and adjunct of the National Media Production Center which was based in Malacañang. In 1987, Executive Order No. 297 dated 25 July 1987 was signed and issued by President Corazon C. Aquino, creating the Office of the Press Secretary and cites under Section 14 (Attached agencies) the creation of the Presidential Broadcast Staff (Radio-Television Malacañang).

Executive Order No. 297 designates PBS-RTVM as the entity with the sole responsibility and exclusive prerogative to decide on policy / operational matters concerning the television medium as it is utilized for the official documentation of all the President's activities for news dissemination purposes and video archiving.

PBS-RTVM is involved in television coverage and documentation, and news and public affairs syndication of all the activities of the President, either live or delayed telecast, by national or local, government or private collaborating networks

San Miguel Church was constructed in 1630s as an act of gratitude by a Spanish governor-general who had miraculously escaped death on a military campaign. The church also ministered to Japanese Christians fleeing persecution under the Tokugawa Shogunate, and since many of these exiles belonged to the samurai, or the warrior class, the church was dedicated to Saint Michael. The present church, notable for the beautiful symmetry of its twin bell towers, followed the model of European Baroque architecture.

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