The home of the Philippine presidents is a building called – Malacanan. However, many believe that the word came from the three Tagalog words, “may lakan diyan” which literally translates “there’s a nobleman there.” It is told in the history of the Philippines before the Spanish arrived that a Filipino local leader is called “lakan or nobleman.” Being defined, the word Malacanan is a shortened word which means “there is a nobleman or aristocrat there.” It is considered an aristocrat a leader of a certain territory during those times.
Two hundred seven years ago, Malacanan Palace is only known by its nickname "bahay na bato" or “house of stone.” The “house of stone” is owned by Don Luis Rocha. Soon, the “house of stone” is purchased by Col. Luis Miguel Formento, a Spaniard, in the amount of one thousand one hundred pesos (P 1,100). The purchase took place on November 16, 1802.
On January 22, 1825, the house of stone was purchased by the Spanish government in the Philippines in the amount of five thousand one hundred pesos (P5,100). Don Clemente Cobarruvias, a government official, managed the purchase negotiation. An ordinance issued on August 27, 1847 establishes the house of stone as a summer residence of the governor general in the Philippines. It will also house the guests of the government.
When an earthquake destroyed the original residence of the governor general in Intramuros on June 3, 1863, the house of stone became the official residence of Governor General Rafael de Echague. He called it Posicion de Malacanan.
There are lots of changes at the palace. Additional rooms and offices are made along the corners of the “house of stone.” However the palace was destroyed by a strong earthquake of 1869. Massive renovations are again being done and also undergone changes to deliver the basic necessity at the palace. Reconstruction finished on December, 1870.
Less than two years passed, when a strong storm destroyed again the Palace last October 13, 1872.The worse damage of the calamity was the office of the governor general. While the palace is being rebuilt, the kitchen was destroyed by a fire when its reconstruction is almost finished. They are enforced to make stringent measures and changes to avoid fire in the future.
The palace was destroyed again by a typhoon again on May 29, 1873. The main building of the palace was severely devastated. It was reconstructed again and therefore, balcony was added and made improvements to the original hall. Extensive reconstruction to broaden and widen the main office was undertaken. The total cost of reconstruction amounted to twenty-four thousand three hundred sixty-three ($24,363).
A strong earthquake occurred on July 1880 brought down again the vulnerable palace. After a done to all damages, the total cost reached to a hefty thirty six thousand dollars ($36,000). Renovations and beautification were done in 1885 during the state visit to the Philippines of Prince Oscar of Sweden. The flag pole was transferred at the main door of the palace. It was implanted in a concrete stone that has a steel wire.
Through the years, additional facilities supplemented to meet the needs in the Palace. It includes official car terminal, animal food storage, guard’s quarter, and fence railings on the shoreline of the social hall. Total costs spent amounted to one hundred eighty-three thousand, five hundred sixty seven dollars ($183, 567). Since 1869, this amount is the total amount of money spent for the Palace excluding other expenses.
In 1898, the interiors of the Palace are needed to be filled so as not to be stranded by floodwater. Floodwater is the breeding ground of mosquitoes and other insects. There is another major change in the Palace after the interiors was filled.
Soon, the government bought a tract of land that’s worth one hundred seventy six thousand pesos (P176,000). As the palace made expansions, a tennis court, swimming pool, new fences and additional rooms were built as needed by the Palace.
After a few years, to ensure convenient and comfortable living conditions at the palace and to respond to the growing needs, changes were made to the exteriors of the Palace. The buildings were adorned with marble decorations from Romblon. Expensive wood carvings were placed in the interior walls of the apalace. Renovations were completed in 1821. Total expenses reached one million, three hundred fifty thousand pesos (P1, 350, 000).
Many years had passed and every time a new President is sworn into office, there are lots of transformations being done at the palace. The changes made according to the preferences of the transition president and first lady.
Every time there is a new president at Malacanan, the palace is even more beautiful in the eyes of the international community and even in the eyes of the Filipinos.
There is a big difference in the present palace from the “house of stone” since it was officially called Malacanan, the home of the Philippine presidents.