You can now tour the Presidential Museum and Library from the comfort of your own home

Photos by Ina Jacobe

Let’s first state the obvious: art and culture belong to the people. What isn’t obvious is how to make both these things more accessible. Not everybody has the means, drive or incentive to visit a museum or gallery, so what can an institution do to get the general public hyped up about art, culture, history, and their national heritage? Technology might be the key.

Malacañang x Google may seem like an unlikely team-up to some, but it’s real. The Presidential Museum and Library (PML) has worked together with Google Arts & Culture to make the various artworks, artifacts and memorabilia of PML (and Kalayaan Hall, generally) available to view online. Visit the Google webpage of the PML, and you’ll find a clean, well-organized showcase of various objects that show the richness of our government’s history, some of which are contained in a couple of online exhibits! Google Arts & Culture has previously worked with a bunch of other cultural organizations both here and around the world, from Ayala Museum to the MoMA, so you know it’s legit.

Mean muggin’: A portrait of Manuel L. Quezon, 2nd president of the Philippines, painted by Leon Gordon.

Fun fact: You’ll also find in the page a 360 degree view of the PML, made possible thanks to a Google-designed machine called the Trolley, which is basically a moveable camera. Imagine Google Street View, but in the palace. Technology, man.

Edgar Ryan S. Faustino, Director and Head of the PML, says although he was hesitant about shifting from “analog to digital,” he hopes that making the Presidential Museum and Library artifacts available to view online will attract more visitors, which is a reasonable idea. Think about it — it’s one thing to look up a picture of the Spoliarium, it’s another thing entirely to see the actual painting in all its roughly-4-by-7-meters glory. That difference in effect applies to other artifacts as well, such as, say, the original Yellow Piano that Yamaha gifted to Corazon Aquino when she won the presidential seat.

Palace perusal: Take a tour through Kalayaan Hall and you’ll find in its many rooms memorabilia that belonged to past presidents, and even old propaganda material.

“Technology is a powerful ally in education,” Faustino says, and that’s really the common ground that brought Malacañang and Google together. “Our mission is to give access to arts and culture to everyone in the world,” says Pierre Caessa, Program Manager of the Google Arts & Culture Lab.

What makes all this especially astonishing though, is that this is all happening under the Duterte administration an administration that ain’t exactly about transparency or the preservation of culture. It’s no secret that we at Young STAR have done our best to be critical of the government, and of the Duterte administration specifically, and that won’t change. But the fact that the the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has worked to make pieces of our history and heritage more accessible to the public (and that this is a collaboration even Martin Andanar seems cool with, having attended the launch as a keynote speaker) is something to celebrate.

If you’re interested in visiting Malacañang for a tour, you can go here. If you want to get in touch with the Malacañang museum, you can contact them through, or call them at (63-2) 784-4286 loc. 4649 / 4945.

#art #politics #technology

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