Prepared by the Presidential Museum and Library
MALACAÑANG Park was created when rice fields on the south bank of the Pasig River across from the official residence of the President of the Philippines were acquired on orders of President Manuel L. Quezon in 1936-1937. Intended as a recreational retreat, the main features of the planned complex for the park were three buildings: a recreation hall used for official entertaining, a community assembly hall for conferences with local government officials, and a rest house directly opposite the Palace across the Pasig River which would serve as the venue for informal activities and social functions of the President and First Family.
The buildings constructed by the Bureau of Public Works were the product of designs by Architect Juan Arellano and Antonio Toledo. The prewar park contained, in addition to the rest house, community assembly hall, and recreation hall, a putting green, stables, and shell tennis courts.
President Jose P. Laurel had the putting green expanded into a small golf after an assassination attempt on him in Wack-Wack golf course. The existing gazebo in the golf course dates to the Laurel administration.
President Manuel Roxas further improved the golf course in Malacañang Park as well as maintaining a truck garden as part of the food self-sufficiency program of his administration.
During the administration of President Ramon Magsaysay An estero was filled in joining the properties of Malacañang Park and the Bureau of Animal Industry, as part of a GSIS housing project for presidential guards and other workers.
The Park grounds were refurbished through the efforts of First Lady Evangelina Macapagal in the early 1960s. She renamed the rest house Bahay Pangarap (Dream House). In the subsequent presidency of Ferdinand E. Marcos, Malacañang Park became increasingly identified with the Presidential Guards. It was during the Marcos administration that the Bureau of Animal Industry building became the headquarters of the Presidential Guards (today as the Presidential Security Group). Gen. Fabian Ver gained jurisdiction over some of the historic buildings, including the recreation hall, which became (and remains) the PSG gymnasium, and the community assembly hall which was turned into the presidential escorts building.
Under President Fidel V. Ramos, the Bahay Pangarap was restored and became the club house of the Malacañang Golf Club (the old Club House had become the residence of President Marcos’ mother, Mrs. Josefa Edralin Marcos). Restoration was supervised by Architect Francisco Mañosa at the initiative of First Lady Amelita M. Ramos and inaugurated as the New Bahay Pangarap on March 15, 1996 as an alternate venue for official functions in addition to recreational and social activities.
In 2008, the historic Bahay Pangarap was essentially demolished by Architect Conrad Onglao and rebuilt in contemporary style (retaining the basic shape of the roof as a nod to the previous historic structure), replacing, as well, the Commonwealth-era swimming pool and pergolas with a modern swimming pool. It was inaugurated on December 19, 2008 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at a Christmas reception for the Cabinet. Administrative Order No. 251, issued on December 22, 2008, placed the administration of Bahay Pangarap under the Internal House Affairs Office of the Office of the President of the Philippines.
Malacañang Park has always been a recreational park, and is not a military facility. The facilities and area of the PSG are distinct from the demarcation of Malacañang Park (see attached map, circa January 23, 1940, soon after its completion, delineating Malacañang Park, including Bahay Pangarap).
President Benigno S. Aquino III thus becomes the first President of the Philippines to make Bahay Pangarap his official residence, although previous presidents have stayed there. He is expected to move in within the first or second week of August, 2010.
For more details please see the attached excerpt from Malacañan Palace: The Official Illustrated History, published by Studio5 Publishing. Please note some additional historical details have come to light since the publication of the book in 2003.