By Lottie S. Salarda, Correspondent

Imelda Marcos’s Tacloban palace to complete rehabilitation soon

Posted on March 22, 2016

TACLOBAN CITY -- The rehabilitation of the Sto. Niño Shrine, one of the city’s most popular landmarks that is also referred to as the “Imelda Marcos Museum,” will soon be completed after it received a P25-million allocation from the government.

The facade of the Sto. Niño Shrine in Tacloban City will soon be restored after the government released P25 million for its rehabilitation. The structure that was once one of the lavish presidential palaces built across the country during the Marcos regime was damaged by typhoon Yolanda. -- Lottie S. Salarda
The funds were allotted after the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority or TIEZA (formerly known as Philippine Tourism Authority), the infrastructure arm of the Department of Tourism, and the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) signed an agreement shortly before supertyphoon Yolanda struck in November 2013.

The PCGG has administrative jurisdiction over the sequestered properties of the family of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

What is now a museum was one of the more than 20 presidential palaces around the country built during the Martial Law years. Completed in 1981, it was an initiative of Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda R. Marcos, then the country’s first lady, who grew up in Tacloban City. The property is part of the Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth whose ownership remains in dispute.

“Before Yolanda, there was already a plan to start the rehabilitation of the museum. Then the typhoon hit, there was an assessment of the damage by engineers, architects, and the museum managers,” said shrine Administrator Renor O. Dauag, noting that the initial budget was set at P20 million.

About 95% of the rehabilitation work involving the exterior part of the museum has been completed with an initial P10 million released.

All items inside the lavishly-furnished 21-room palace -- including high-value items such as Ming Dynasty jars from China and mirrors from Austria -- will be kept intact, Mr. Dauag said.

He added that they have yet to determine the total value of the pieces.

“We will not touch the artifacts inside. Those artifacts are priceless. The museum’s [experts] will have to handle that,” he said.

The museum originally had a centralized air conditioning system that was damaged over the years by the frequent typhoons that hit the city.

It was never restored due to limited funding for repair and electricity costs.

When he took over as museum administrator for the PCGG in 2000, Mr. Dauag said the museum had no electricity and owed P500,000 to the Leyte Electric Cooperative, the city’s power distributor.

The PCGG eventually paid the dues using income from rental fees of the People Center -- which is located beside the museum -- and entrance fees.

In 2015, two years after Yolanda, the number of tourists who visited the museum reached 15,266, almost double the number of 8,031 visitors the previous year. As a result, income from entrance fees also rose during that year to P983,715 from P622,321 in 2014.

Mr. Dauag said the Pope’s visit in January 2015 contributed to the increase.

The entrance fee to the museum is P200 per person, and P60 each for every additional person in groups of more than three. Students pay P50.

Bringing a camera inside is allowed for an extra fee of P30.