Bringing back the grandeur of Malacañang ti Amianan
PAOAY, Ilocos Norte—In true Marcos fashion, the family’s vacation house in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, has been given a face-lift, bringing back the grandeur that the Malacañang ti Amianan (Malacañang of the North) once radiated in the 1970s when the Marcoses reigned.
The two-story mansion, built by the Philippine Tourism Authority or PTA (now the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority) in 1977 in time for then President Ferdinand Marcos’ 60th birthday, is one of several structures that the government put up on a 57-hectare lot that Marcos supposedly owns. The other structures include the Maharlika Hall, Paoay Sports Complex and an 18-hole golf course.
And following Marcos’ fascination with numerology, the summer house has been converted into a museum and boasts of seven rooms, Marcos’ supposed lucky number. These rooms—Study, Agriculture, Diplomacy, OFW (overseas Filipino workers), Culture, Nation Building and Family—provide a glimpse of history and iconic images of the Marcos era.
Before the dictator was ousted from power by a people-backed military uprising in 1986, the Ilocos structure with a panoramic view of the Paoay Lake was exclusively used by Marcos family members and guests. It sits on a 5-ha lot in Barangay Suba, accessible only by private or rented vehicles.
That the mansion has an air of exclusivity is readily apparent by its location.
A Canadian tourist who first visited the place in August showed no surprise when told that no ordinary folk could get near it at the time Marcos’ government had control over it. “It is deep into the village with no visible means of public transportation,” he said.
The property was later opened to the public as a museum after the 1986 People Power revolt, housing well-preserved Marcos memorabilia from elegant interiors, beds and furnishings—all reminiscent of the lifestyle of its occupants.
The PTA, which built the lakeside property for tourism purposes, had control and administration of the Malacañang ti Amianan until President Aquino turned over its supervision to the provincial government in December 2010.
Gov. Imee Marcos, the late strongman’s eldest daughter, had the structure refurbished as one of the provincial government’s tourism centerpieces, drawing hundreds of sightseers at any given day.
The property again underwent renovation and has been converted as a Malacañang Museum in time for Marcos’ 95th birthday on Sept. 11.
Eric Zerrudo, director of the University of Sto. Tomas’ Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, was commissioned to put together significant periods during the Marcos years to remind the public of Marcos’ public programs.
The Study Room features extensive book collections, some of which Marcos authored. The Agriculture Room gives a glimpse of the agriculture programs that had made waves in the 1970s, including rice production under the “Masagana 99” project. That period also saw the construction of various dams across the country.
The Diplomacy Room provides a history on Marcos’ foreign and international trade relations, primarily with Asian neighbors.
The Nation Building Room describes the rise of infrastructure programs that linked Ilocos Norte to Zamboanga City through bridges and roads. It was during the 1970s that the Maharlika Highway (also known as the Pan-American Highway) and bridges, such as the Patapat viaduct in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, and the San Juanico Bridge that links Samar and Leyte, were built.
The OFW Room is a tribute to Ilocano overseas workers who are spread across the globe. It mirrors typical Ilocano travelers bringing with them the usual “pao-it” (things carried as keepsakes for relatives), ranging from blankets and amulets to canned “bagoong” (fish paste).
The Culture Room is a preview of the era of cultural renaissance which former First Lady Imelda Marcos once upheld. Imelda now represents the second district of Ilocos Norte in the House of Representatives.
Zerrudo said the Family Room shows the former president wearing a different hat, from one who is perceived as untouchable to a simple man. “Malacañang [ti Amianan] was the only structure he personally [supervised]. This was his dream house,” he said.
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