Built by one of the most controversial presidents and eventual dictator of the country, the Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum is considered the most visited spot in Tacloban City, known to house antiques, artifacts, furniture, and art pieces from all around the world that was collected during the Marcos regime. It is in Real Street Downtown, Tacloban, and is open daily from 8:00 am-5:00 pm.
The Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum is one of the 20 presidential rest houses built by late former President Ferdinand Marcos for his wife Imelda, who was originally from Tacloban. The luxurious structure served as a chapel, museum, and a guest house, with 21 bedrooms. In 1979, a religious landmark was built in honor of Sto. Niño, the patron saint of Tacloban City, then became under requisition of Presidential Commission on Good Government in 1986. For all its grandeur, however, it’s said that Imelda stayed in the house only once. Currently, it is widely visited by tourists for its affiliation with the Marcos family.
The Shrine and Heritage Museum was considered a palace during the Marcos regime, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, state dining rooms, conference rooms, a replica ballroom of the one in Malacañang Palace, and several bedrooms, each room having a diorama of the former First Lady, as well as a signed photograph of the couple.
7 bedrooms were built for the members of the Marcos family, while the each of the 13 guest rooms has its own unique motif such as sampaguita, shell, banig, coconut, and butterfly-inspired among others. Of course, the biggest room in the house belongs to Imelda herself, with its size larger than the average Filipino home.
Other than its architecture, one of the main attractions of the Heritage museum is the art collected in it. Inside are giant paintings of foreign artists such as Spanish artist Bebsi Brias and local artists as well, like Fernando Amorsolo. There is collection of paintings that depict historical events in Leyte and ecclesiastical paintings from Italy, France, and Germany. Aside from paintings are antique collections, grand pianos, wooden and ivory sculptures, like the St. Remedios and St. Vincent sculptures made of Italian ivory, which are on the altar of the Romualdez museum.
Some of its prestigious fixtures include chandeliers from Czech Republic, Italian tiles, Argentine carpets, Chinese porcelain jars, and Austrian mirrors.
Truly, the Heritage museum is proof of excessive spending of the Marcos during his term. But thankfully it is now open for tourists and is beneficial to the local people. An entrance fee of PHP 200 good for 6 people is required before visiting the museum, with an additional fee for those who wish to bring in a camera.