NEARLY six years after it was condemned due to its dilapidated state, the Malacañang sa Sugbo is set to have a facelift and a major transformation.
According to a press statement issued Saturday, July 13, 2019, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino has already received “verbal approval” from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez III on plans to authorize the National Museum (NM) to transform the Malacañang sa Sugbo into a local tourist attraction.
The historical building’s transformation is in time for the quincentennial commemoration of Ferdinand Magellan’s arrival in the Philippines, which will be celebrated in 2021.
Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas, chairperson of the NM board of trustees, wrote a letter to Dino expressing interest in reestablishing the presence of the Malacañang sa Sugbo.
In a letter dated June 20, 2019, Bernas said the Malacañang sa Sugbo will complete the roster of regional museums in Central Visayas under the supervision of the NM.
Aside from the one located in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, the NM is also set to open its branch in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental in 2021.
The NM also plans to handle the funding for the maintenance, repair, restoration, conversion, and operation of the building once Malacañang sa Sugbo is turned over to its management.
“I personally consider the ongoing absence of the NM in the international gateway and educational, cultural and tourism hub of the central Philippines to be incomprehensible and have made rectifying this glaring deficiency one of my top priorities as chairperson.... I am informed that the agency’s current MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) appropriations are sufficient to cater to necessary security and basic maintenance in the current fiscal year, and that management and technical staff are ready to formulate a detailed program for necessary infrastructure and equipment capital outlays in time for the 2020 budget,” wrote Bernas.
Dino, for his part, wanted the century-old building to be managed by an organization or agency with the financial capability to retrofit the structure.
He wrote to Medialdea last July 8, asking for consideration and approval of Bernas’ request. He also plans to send a separate letter to Dominguez to formally put the request into writing.
“It must be noted that there exists no national museum in Cebu, which is at odds with Cebu being the queen city of the south, and the main hub for education, business, and economy outside of Metro Manila.... I believe that restoring the Malacañang sa Sugbo to its former glory and making it a national museum would not only protect our cultural heritage, but would enrich the Cebuano culture, and stand to be a showcase to the whole world,” Dino said.
Formerly known as Aduana building, the edifice was originally built to house the Bureau of Customs.
In 2004, Bernas’ mother, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, converted the building to Malacañang sa Sugbo but it has been idle since the end of her administration in 2010.
The Malacañang sa Sugbo was heavily damaged when the Visayas was hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in October 2013. (RTF with PR )