Cebu City — Presidential Assistant to the Visayas Sec. Michael Dino received a nod from the Office of the President and Department of Finance to transform the Malacañang sa Sugbo into a National Museum.
Dino revealed that he already received verbal approval from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez III into giving the National Museum (NM) the authority to transform the unused Malacañang sa Sugbo into another tourist attraction in Cebu and in the Visayas.
This development is timely for the quincentennial commemorations of Magellan’s arrival in the Philippines, which will be celebrated in 2021.
The move came after National Museum Chairperson Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas wrote a letter to Dino stating the interest of the National Museum in re-establishing its presence in Cebu City through the restoration and conversion of the building. “When Bernas assured us that they have the budget to make it happen, I did not hesitate in asking Secretary Medialdea and Secretary Dominguez to approve her request,” said Dino.
The Office of the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas (OPAV) chief wanted the century-old building to be managed by an organization or agency that has the funds in retrofitting the 1910 structure.
In her letter, Bernas said that Malacañang sa Sugbo will complete the Central Visayas regional museums of the National Museum especially with the existing National Museum branch in Tagbilaran City, Bohol and the forthcoming branch museum in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, scheduled to be opened in 2021.
“I personally consider the ongoing absence of the NM 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,” said Bernas in her letter dated June 20, 2019.
Furthermore, the National Museum assured Dino and the Office of the President that they will be responsible for funding the maintenance, repair, restoration, conversion, and operation of the building once Malacañang sa Sugbo will be transferred to NM 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.
Dino wrote a letter to Executive Secretary Medialdea on 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 Dino in his letter.
The alter ego of the President in the Visayas will also be writing to Secretary Dominguez to formally put into letter the said request.
Dino, also an avid art lover, added that 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. “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 would enrich the Cebuano culture, and stand to be a showcase to the whole world,” he said.
Malacañang sa Sugbo, formerly the Aduana building, was originally built 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 Arroyo’s administration in 2010.
It has reportedly suffered serious damage after the October 13, 2013 Bohol earthquake.
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