Malacañang of the North: Ageing Reminder of a Dark Regime

Being the home province of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who was born in Sarrat - Ilocos Province held almost the same amount of power as the ones enjoyed by the few in Manila. One true representation of it was the symbolic Malacañang of the North - which by any other name, would pass as an ordinary summer house built in true heritage fashion, highlighted by its Spanish colonial architecture. 

Malacañang of the North

But, the Marcoses as history jotted down is by no means any ordinary family. Being previous owners of this mansion, which sits squarely on a flat green lawn overlooking the tranquil Paoay Lake, makes it a very significant landmark that stood witness to the years, of what many refer to as the dark regime. 

Monette Santillan when she is still with Marky
My girlfriend Monnette at the steps of the mansion © Nomadic Experiences
Known by its other name “Malacanang Ti Amianan”, it is said to be a gift by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos, to Ferdinand Marcos on his 60th birthday. While most historians would include this mansion as among the many symbols of the former first family's excess, the current Mansion stands as an ageing reminder of that eventful regime that lasted for more than 20 years (1965-1986).

Malacañang of the North

While one could still see the finer details of the house, you get a feeling the furniture and the interior are far recreations of the past and it now only exist as a museum run by meager funding. Still, some surviving mementos like the old pictures of the Marcos family, the portrait painting of the former first couple, the lavish stairwell and the wide-eyed view of the scenic Paoay lake, kind of brings forth a series of images that depicts what it was like during their heyday. 

Malacañang of the North

I can imagine the late President retreating to this lakeside mansion to escape the fiery political movement snowballing in the 70's, deep in his thoughts and burying his attention on his many books. Today, the mansion serves as a museum and for a small entrance fee (10.00) you get to tour the house with a guide who is obviously a fan of the Marcoses, but still dishes out some fascinating facts about the Marcos regime. 

Among those displayed as part of the Marcos memorabilia are the Code of the Agrarian Reform of 1971 which includes "The Tenant Emancipation Decree" or the Presidential Decree # 27 which states "Decreeing the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of the soil, transferring to them the ownership of the land they till and providing the instruments and mechanism therefor". Sounds promising but issued during the Martial Law, historians pegged it as a vision that contrasts the reality of that time. 

What is amazing about it though is, the Code of Agrarian Reform of 1971 is the only law ever done in handwriting with President Marcos penning Presidential Decree # 27 with his own handwriting. 

The second floor consists of a large space that could double as a dance hall. Knowing Imelda Marcos' penchant for partying I'm sure it has seen some of the grandest celebrations of the time. While not as big as I expected, the Master bedroom is highlighted by a window that opens up to the majestic view of Paoay Lake. 

Some of the rooms at the ground floor houses some displays that represents the way of life during much of the 70's and the 80's. Of course, like any museum in the Ilocos region, expect no mention of the corruption, cronies debauchery, the political unrest and freedom deprivation. Looking at it you would think the 'Bagong Lipunan' (New Society Movement) program of Marcos went smoothly. I love the fact about the farmers being supplied with radios to play Nora Aunor songs of patriotism and the farming novelty song "Ang Magtanim ay di Biro". 

I always thought that the late President Ferdinand Marcos had a great vision for the Philippines. He got the bright mind to implement a radical change in our society. He may have succeeded in his first few years BUT somewhere along the way things got meddled and went Kaput. My curiosity is always piqued by these turn of events in our history and by visiting places such as this, gives me a new perspective at how history turned out during those years and how I wish it could have veered toward an entirely different route. 

This is a part of my Ilocos Roadtrip Series that also include the following:

The Baroque Church of Paoay

The Heritage House of Villa Angela

Charging at the Mad Max Vibe of La Paz Sand Dunes

Where to Stay in Laoag: Balay de Blas

- Bantay Church Bell Tower

- A Pit-stop at Kapurpurawan Rock Formation