“People say I am extravagant because I want to be surrounded by beauty. But tell me, who wants to be surrounded with garbage?”
The Santo Nino Shrine and Heritage Center in Tacloban, Leyte is one of the manifestations of her love for beauty and grandeur. This palatial guesthouse was built in 1979 to 1981 as one of the 29 Presidential rest houses of the former First Family, the Marcoses.
Enshrined in this home and museum is the ivory image of the infant Jesus, the Santo Nino. He sits as the centerpiece of the entire place adorned with the brightest embellishments and obvious display of grandiosity. But that’s all about the Santo Nino, the rest is Imelda Marcos.
As the world knows, Imelda Marcos was the former First Lady of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the great man of the Philippine Republic. She hails from Tacloban and is regarded as the Rose of Leyte. More than the tales of the thousand shoes and blinding diamonds, Imelda is the madam behind many beautiful art centers that the new generation enjoys. She was a staunch Philippine culture impresario and always the image of a Filipina in terno.
The mansion has 13 thematic rooms, each showcasing the art, culture and lifestyles of the Philippine regions. On its hallways are huge mosaics done in expensive Italian tiles and paintings of the famous national artist, Fernando Amorsolo. The bed chambers on the second level are reserved for the former president, a separate and unbelievably beautiful room of Imelda and the rest are for her children.
The state dining rooms are all flanked with the best, handcrafted furniture from all over the world. Hanging from its ceiling on the grand sweeping ballrooms are Czech chandeliers and its floors are laden with Argentinean carpets. It is a universe of priceless collections that the former first lady received during her reign. Like many other royal houses in other countries, this one in Leyte is a grand representation of its nation filled with objets d’art.
The Santo Nino Shrine and Heritage Center has aged and is obviously decaying. Many parts of it are showing the wear and tear of time and history, of lost reign and messy sequestration, of sad neglect and faded glory. But despite these, the Santo Nino Shrine and Heritage Center is a must-visit destination whenever you are in Leyte.
Betwixt and between the arthritic 40 and a horrendous body mass index of positive 30, escapism and yummyeology are my real-life double post-graduate degrees conferred with the highest honors.
I lived nearly half of my life in fancy suitcases, jetsetting between reality and fantasy... read more