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Santo Niño Shrine, Tacloban City, Leyte-July 10, 2010

While I was in Leyte, between a short tour of Tacloban City and en route to the MacArthur Landing Memorial, my driver, Mang Pat suggested that I visit the Santo Niño Shrine. This was a totally unexpected and unplanned diversion as part of my Leyte Lakwatsa. I didn’t know much about the place. Pat didn’t say except him saying it was a museum by former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos. As such, I naturally assumed it was a museum on the Sta. Niño… the child Jesus. Hehe. Boy was I wrong.

 

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The shrine is actually a museum or the Romualdez Museum who hail from Leyte. The shrine was an actual mansion during the Marcos era. It coontains a huge chapel which seats around 300 people, 13 themed guestrooms on the first floor, and 8 bedrooms (each for the members of the Marcos family, Ferdinand, Imelda, Bongbong, Imee, Irene, Aimee, The Governor (Imelda’s brother) and Ferdinand’s bodyguard).

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When you enter the front doors, there is a lady who is collecting a fee to tour the museum. P200 entrance plus extra to take pictures. I quickly commented that P200 was kinda expensive… so I was given a “discount” and my picture-taking fee was waived. In retrospect, as I was touring the place, I realized that the P200 would really go quite a way for the upkeep of the place. It was really in a very sad state.

While it was called the Santo Nino Shrine, I actually only saw two Sto. Ninos. The first was this small one at the end of this huge hallway past the front entrance in what looked like a chapel.

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I then started my tour… which was part of what I had paid for. First I would see each of the 13 themed guest rooms. I didn’t bother taking pictures of everything…. I also don’t remember all of the themes…

I think this was the Igorot Guest Room.

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The Capiz Guest Room

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What was kinda sadwas that as we went around, my guide had to turn on the lights as we came in, and turned them off as we left. I guess they were trying to keep electricity costs down. The place by itself was very very gloomy and of course only gets light when guests pass through.

Below is a siiting room

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A 22 seater conference table (the upstairs had a 30 seater one)

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I went into the grand ballroom, but it was so gloomy the resulting picture from my camera wasn’t very nice. I did capture this interesting… “throne”. There was a duplicate on the opposite side with the papal seal on it. Was this KIng Ferdinand’s?

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The second floor. Sitting area. There were pictures of Ferdinand and Imelda everywhere.

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Ferdinand Marcos’ Bedroom

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His desk.

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Imelda’s room. Yes apparently they slept separately… this room was on the far opposide side where Ferdinand’s room was. One wing was for the girls, another wing for the girls.

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Imelda’s bathroom

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Bongbong’s room… which was oddly 3x the size of Imee and Irene.

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Immaculate Concepcion Mosaic back in the ground floor.

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It was a very interesting tour through a period in history. It is sad the place is so dilapidated, dusty, dirty. The walls were full of mold and the sheets, curtains, and carpets probably have not been cleaned since the Marcosses fled the Philippines in 1986. Since then, I guess the Philippine Government since Cory Aquino’s time didn’t want to spend any money for the upkeep of the place. The place is part of history, and despite how people see the infamy of the Marcos era and anything related to it, this Museum is one site that deserves restoration and maintenance. Alas, I guess even historical sites are politicized as well.

If you ever find yourself in Tacloban City… this place is worth the visit for the history that comes with the place. It is great if you lived through the Martial Law era, but even if you were born afterwards, this place holds a lot of history. It certainly shows the opulence of the Marcos era and how the First Family lived at that time.

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