Tips and Guides

Good to Know: 8 Facts About Malacañan Palace

As we begin the countdown to a new leadership, read up on some interesting info about the country’s seat of power


In a few weeks, our country will be welcoming a new president who will take his or her seat at Malacañan Palace as the republic’s 16th commander-in-chief. While we await the results of the election, we invite you to take a trip down memory lane—and a virtual walk around the Palace—as we explore interesting facts about our new president’s official residence.

Illustration: Alyssa Roxas.

1 A storied name. There are multiple theories, among which have something to do with the Spanish words “mamalakaya” or fisherman (making it a place for fishermen); and “mala cana” or evil bamboo cane (as thick bamboo groves were believed to house evil spirits). 

2 A cluster of buildings. One gets the impression from every photo we’ve seen of the Malacañan Palace that it is just a single building housed in a sprawling compound. It was exciting for former Press Undersecretary Martin Crisostomo who worked for six years in Malacañan to discover that “it is actually made up of different buildings each from a unique time and with a distinctive look, with its own history to share.”

“The president’s residential building is just an image or a symbol of the ‘house of power.’ But as a person who had the privilege to work at the seat of power, Malacañan to me is a compound with a collection of buildings made to accommodate the expanding number of workers and officials serving the Palace,” Crisostomo adds.

In photo: The Reception Hall. Photo from Wikipedia.

3 A rich history. A Spaniard by the name of Luis Rocha was the first recorded owner of the property, which originally served as his country home. Rocha then sold it to a Spanish Army colonel in the early 1800s, and the property was sold to the government after the colonel’s death. It became the official palace of the Governor General after the 1863 earthquake felled the Palacio in Intramuros.

4 An array of design influences. The dominant use of wood, especially in the State Rooms which are used for state functions, reflect the design influences of the Spanish era. Sliding capiz windows and patios are also reminiscent of Rocha’s country home in the 18th century. A bit of western influence is also seen as the palace was improved under the rule of the Americans, with some of the wood changed to concrete and magnificent chandeliers added to its interiors.

“I feel that Malacañan has been renovated and improved president after president because the materials and architecture used in several parts do not belong to one time or era only,” says Crisostomo.

5 Regal elements. What elements make Malacañan Palace worthy of being home to the most powerful person in the country? Crisostomo names the Rizal Hall as the most majestic State Room in the palace.

In the National Geographic documentary directed by Marnie Manicad, Inside Malacañang, Manolo Quezon of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Management Office says the Rizal Ceremonial Hall is where oath takings happen, importance legislation is signed, and lying in-state of presidents take place. “[Among] its features are unique chandeliers carved in Betis, Pampanga; its three domed ceilings are gilded,” he adds.

In photo: Presidential Museum Walkway. Photo from Wikipedia.

6 A fortress. Up until the time of President Corazon Aquino, the Music Room was used as the First Ladies’ reception area. Today, private meetings with important guests of the president are held here. According to Inside Malacañang, the Music Room has no windows, and its walls and ceilings “exceed the normal specifications for thickness and load-bearing ability” compared to normal residences. This gives us a glimpse of how the palace is built like a fortress to protect the president and the First Family.

7 Odd favorite. In the same documentary, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III shares that his favorite part of the Palace is the basement, where Imelda Marcos’s vast collections are also housed. It was also where the Aquino family sought shelter during the 1989 coup d’etat. In describing the Palace, President Noynoy Aquino says, “It is ornate and tends to be quite dark. It’s too big; it emphasizes that it’s lonely at the top.”

8 Insider secret. Here’s something golf aficionados will find interesting: It has a tee-off area, and the green is located at the other end of the Pasig river. Crisostomo says, “The ball is supposed to fly across the Pasig river and over to the PSG Park. Cool!”

In photo: The New Executive Building. Photo from Wikipedia.

More on

5 Things To Do In Laguna

5 Things to Do in Antipolo

5 Beautiful Heritage Churches To Visit Around Metro Manila


Latest Stories

How To Vacuum Your Home Properly

Here’s how to avoid all the usual vacuuming mistakes. Plus, learn about a revolutionary new material that will help you bust all that dirt at home.

A Cozy and Modern Family Home in Quezon City

Works of art, beautiful fabrics, and a mix of old and new pieces bring this townhouse to life

5 Things To Never Clean With Baking Soda

This finely milled powder has its downsides, too

There's An Affordable Way To Keep Your Home Smelling Good 24/7

Say no to artificial fragrances with this three-step hack

A KonMari Reality Show Is Coming To Netflix

Will de-cluttering diva Marie Kondo's new show spark joy?

You Only Need P5,000 To Work On These Home Improvement Projects

The best part? These can increase the value of your space, too.

What's Inside The Vatican Walls?

Aside from having one of the largest collections of art in the world, the Vatican holds many other treasures

Meet The Architect Behind This Industrial-Pinoy Home

Inspired by the Bahay Kubo, this architect worked with industrial details and affordable building materials to create an inviting space

Is It Possible to Paint Over Tiles?

No one likes the sight of lackluster tiles. Know what to do with these tips from an interior designer.

A Sneak Peek at the New Clark City

A Singaporean consulting firm has been tapped for the development project

You Can Use Wallpaper On The Ceiling, Too

Talk about having a one-of-a-kind accent in your space

Rockwell's Glasshouse Is The Chicest Restaurant Out There

Fashion retailer Harlan + Holden's response to the global trend of lifestyle dining is this airy and beautiful restaurant
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!