Culture & Heritage

National Museum to convert Malacañang sa Sugbo into a museum

The National Museum wanted to convert the already idle Malacañang sa Sugbu into a museum. /CDN File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines—The National Museum plans to transform the Malacañang sa Sugbo into a museum.

Secretary Michael Dino, Presidential Assistant to the Visayas, made this disclosure in a statement sent to reporters on Saturday.

Dino said he received a letter from National Museum Chairperson Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas expressing interest in re-establishing their presence in Cebu City through the restoration and conversion of the Malacañang sa Sugbo into a museum.

In her letter, Bernas said that Malacañang sa Sugbo would complete the Central Visayas regional museums of the National Museum. There is now an existing National Museum branch in Tagbilaran City, Bohol and a forthcoming branch museum in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, which is scheduled to be opened in 2021.

“I personally consider the ongoing absence of the NM (National Museum) 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,” added Bernas in her June 20 letter.

The National Museum also assured Secretary Dino and the Office of the President that they would be responsible for funding the maintenance, repair, restoration, conversion, and operation of the building once Malacañang sa Sugbo will be transferred to their management.

“I am informed that the agency’s current MOOE 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,” said Bernas.

With Bernas’ assurance that they have the funding for the restoration and operation of Malacañang sa Sugbo, Dino said he did not hesitate to ask for approval from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. He added that he got a verbal approval for the proposal from the two Cabinet officials.

Secretary Dino then wrote a letter to Executive Secretary Medialdea last July 8 asking for the consideration and approval of Bernas’ request. “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,” said Secretary Dino in his letter to the executive secretary.  He also plans to write similar letter to Secretary Dominguez.

This development is timely for the quincentennial commemoration of Magellan’s arrival in the Philippines, which will be celebrated in 2021.

Dino noted that the Malacañang sa Sugbo structure itself is a testament to the design and architectural skill of the Filipinos. Visayan historical artifacts could be housed in the planned museum.

“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 also enrich the Cebuano culture, and stand to be a showcase to the whole world,” Secretary Dino reiterated.

Malacañang sa Sugbo is formerly the Aduana building originally built in 1910 to house the Bureau of Customs in the Port of Cebu. In 2004, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo converted it to Malacañang sa Sugbo but it has been idle since the end of the Arroyo’s administration in 2010. It has reportedly suffered serious damage after the October 15, 2013 Bohol earthquake. /dcb

TAGS: Cebu City, Michael Dino, museum, OPAV, Restoration
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