Mansion House Turns 100 Years, Will Be Open to Public

The public would get a glimpse of the interior and fixtures of the Mansion House this year if plans for an open house would push through as part of the city’s centennial celebrations.

BY THE NORTHERN DISPATCH
Posted by Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. North of Manila)– The public would get a glimpse of the interior and fixtures of the Mansion House this year if plans for an open house would push through as part of the city’s centennial celebrations.

The Mansion House is the official summer residence of the President.

Historian Ludovico Badoy, executive director of the National Historical Institute (NHI), disclosed this shortly before the unveiling of historical markers at the Mansion gate this December.

Visitors usually have to contend with having their souvenir pictures taken at the gigantic gates with the white building as a backdrop.

Locals do not even get a close look at the presidential residence as one bystander muses, “Kanayon mi laeng a malablabsan,” (We always pass by it).

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unveiled December 29 two historical markers of the Mansion House.

Centennial markers

Mansion House turned 100 years old in 2008, according to Jeremy Barns, director of the Malacañang Museum. It is one year ahead of the city’s centenary, which is 2009.

The two centennial historical markers, one with English inscription and the other in Filipino, were installed at the posts of the Mansion House gates fronting Wright Park.

Badoy assisted Arroyo in the unveiling of the markers, which chronicle the beginnings of the Mansion House or simply the Mansion.

The presidential summer residence was constructed during the American colonial period at the instance of then Philippine Vice Governor-General William Cameron Forbes as part of the Burnham Plan for Baguio in 1908.

According to Barns, William E. Parsons, who designed the Mansion, drew inspiration for the edifice from the then City Beautiful Movement in the United States.

Forbes would later become the governor-general of the Philippines from 1909 to1913 when William Howard Taft was US president.

He named it the Mansion House, but then strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos renamed it as “The Mansion,” according to Barns.

Forbes started out as the Commissioner of Commerce and Police in the Philippines from 1904 through 1908 under US President Theodore Roosevelt. He became the Vice Governor of the Philippines from 1908 to 1909, before becoming governor-general for four years.

He would come back to the Philippines 12 years later in 1921 as the head of the Woods-Forbes Commission under US President Warren G. Harding to investigate conditions in the Philippines.

Presidential house

NHI Chairman Ambeth Ocampo said the presidential mansion at Baguio’s wooded Pacdal area served as the summer residence of American governor-generals from 1908 to 1935, and later of Philippine presidents starting with Manuel L. Quezon.

The Mansion House also served as the venue of the special session of the Second Philippine Legislature in 1910.

Destroyed in 1945 during World War II, it was rehabilitated two years later in 1947 and immediately became the venue of the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission of Asia and the Far East (ECAFE).

The Mansion House was also the venue of the 1948 summit of the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the First Meeting of the Southeast Asian Union (SEAU), also known as the Baguio Conference, in 1950.

Conservation

Although no budget was mentioned, Badoy said there are plans to restore the Mansion House to conserve and preserve its stature as a seat of power.

“When the president is here, it becomes the Malacañang,” Badoy said, clarifying it must be viewed with respect for whoever is the president living there.

Barns said the relics like letters and presidential orders penned in the Mansion House might be returned including pictures with captions. These are presently kept at the Malacañang Museum. Northern Dispatch/Posted by Bulatlat.com

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