Conversion of Malacañang sa Sugbo into a museum gets DOF nod

Published August 21, 2019, 10:33 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Minerva BC Newman

CEBU CITY — The conversion of the historic former Customs House of the Port of Cebu or Malacañang sa Sugbo got the nod from the Department of Finance (DOF) in a letter addressed to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and received by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) Tuesday.

Part of the letter reads, “I have no objection to both Secretary Dino’s and Chairperson Arroyo-Bernas’ suggestion and highly recommend the initiative,” DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.


Malacañang sa Sugbo, formerly the Aduana building, was originally built to house the Bureau of Customs at 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 reportedly suffered serious damages after the October 13, 2013 Bohol earthquake.

National Museum chairperson Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas requested authority to rehabilitate and transform the Malacanang sa Sugbo into a National Museum based on her letter through the Office of the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas (OPAV) on June 20, 2019 that was readily endorsed by PA secretary Michael Dino.

The Malacañang sa Sugbo structure itself is a testament to the design and architectural skill of the Filipinos and historical artifacts uniquely Visayan could be housed in the said museum, Dino said.

Dino wanted the century-old building to be managed by an organization or agency which has the funds in retrofitting the 1910 structure in time for the quintennial commemorations of Magellan’s arrival in the Philippines which will be celebrated in 2021.

Recently, the Province of Cebu, Cebu City Sangguniang Panlungsod, some groups and individuals expressed their support to convert the Malacanang sa Sugbo into a National Museum.

According to Dino, more and more people are positive about the idea of a National Museum here. He said that Cebu Provincial Governor Gwen Garcia personally wrote a letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte expressing her support to the plan.

Garcia said the converted Malacanang sa Sugbo will serve as a beacon for tourists from all over the world, considering the rich history and culture that the structure represents, not only for Cebuanos but for the entire Filipino people as well.

The 15th Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cebu City, during its 1st session of the Council in July, also passed a resolution supporting the stance of OPAV to convert the century-old building into a regional branch of the National Museum.

“The National Museum is an educational, scientific, and cultural institution that acquires, documents, preserves, exhibits, and fosters scholarly study and public appreciation of works of art, specimen and cultural and historical artifacts representative of the unique cultural heritage of the Filipino people and the natural history of the Philippines,” the resolution reads.

The said resolution was sponsored by Councilor Renato Osmeña, Jr. and was approved on July 16, a copy of which was furnished to the Office of the President, Office of the Executive Secretary, OPAV, the National Museum of the Philippines, Department of Finance, and the Bureau of Customs Port of Cebu, Dino bared.

Acting Deputy General Manager of the Cebu Port Authority Glenn Castillo, in his letter to President Duterte, also expressed his support saying “The Cebu Port Authority welcomes this development as we support whatever your directive is on how the building will be used.”

The Dibuhu Art Group (Diwa sa Buhing Hulagway), through its Head Artist Wilfredo Cañete Jr., also expressed its support and said, this would also inspire artists and young Cebuanos to contribute and leave a legacy to the nation, Cañete in his letter addressed to Bernas, which was coursed through OPAV said.

A certain Randy Salazar also wrote to OPAV expressing his interest in helping put up traditional blades in the future National Museum in Malacañang sa Sugbo.

“I am one of the admins of Filipino Traditional Blades and would be happy to share our blade collection with National Museum, in order to help preserve the knowledge of our trad blades of the country,” Salazar’s letter reads.

Read more: Malacañang sa Sugbo, now a National Museum