MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañan Palace has been home not only to this country’s leaders, but also to many supernatural elements, at least according to tales from the Palace’s past residents, including the Marcoses.
Malacañan Palace, with its history-laden walls and creaky floors, has its own share of spine-tingling spooky stories--from ghosts of dead presidents to headless security aides.
The ghosts of Presidents Manuel L. Quezon and Manuel Roxas reportedly spooked the Marcoses, who were the Palace’s longest residents from 1965 to 1986.
Former President Marcos and Vice President Lopez in the Presidential Study. Photo from malacanang.gov.ph
The daughter of then President Ferdinand Marcos, Imee, reportedly saw President Quezon’s ghost in the Presidential Study.
According to malacanang.gov.ph, Imee said her father even considered holding a séance to summon Quezon to solicit advice on negotiating with the Americans.
Historian and journalist Ambeth Ocampo has also posited that President Quezon’s ghost would “[pace] the Palace during times of crisis.” These sightings eventually inspired the Marcoses to renovate the Palace.
The Palace has been the residence of Spanish and American leaders since it was built in 1750, but President Quezon is known to be its first Filipino resident.
A ghost captured on film? The shadowy figure on the left caught on camera by a guest at Heroes Hall. Photo from malacanang.gov.ph
The Quezon Executive Office in Kalayaan Hall was named after him, and it is not spared from spooky tales from Palace employees.
They said the lights at the office, inexplicably, would suddenly switch on late at night.
Even Raul Gonzalez, who claims to be the longest resident of Malacañan after Marcos, had his own Quezon ghost story as shared to him by his father, architect Arturo Gonzalez.
The younger Gonzalez said on the day President Quezon died, his father heard the door of President Quezon’s parked Chrysler “opening and slamming shut.”
But the only son of President Quezon, Nonong Quezon, told national artist Nick Joaquin that “he saw none of the ghosts supposed to haunt the Palace; the horridest happening there that he remembers is a snake being caught in his room,” as quoted by malacanang.gov.ph.
President Roxas reportedly also spooked the Marcoses during their stay at the Palace.
Malacañang’s website said the Marcos children would avoid the State Dining Room and the former First Lady Imelda Marcos would insist that she is accompanied to the bathroom whenever they are near the area.
The State Dining Room is where the body of President Roxas had reportedly lain in state, malacanang.gov.ph said.
The Palace's State Dining Room. Photo from malacanang.gov.ph
The Palace is believed to have been used by the Japanese Army as its headquarters during World War II, naturally sparking debate on “lost souls” seen wandering Malacañan’s halls.
The ghost of an American chaplain known only as “Father Brown”, who was supposedly killed by Japanese troops during the war, is also said to be roaming the Palace.
Former Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, meanwhile, has shared a sighting of a “white-haired man wearing a dark suit” who seemed to follow him inside the Palace.
Even the Palace’s current resident, President Benigno Aquino III, related how Palace guards would talk about pianos playing by itself and the sound of footsteps down the halls.
But while most of the tales are a vague recounting of a sighting or eerie sounds, one story had what seemed to be photographic evidence.
In one of the photographs used for Malacañan Palace: The Official Illustrated History, the photographer captured an image of what seemed to be a headless member of the Presidential Security Group wearing a barong.
“The image has sparked much speculation, feeding suspicions of the Palace being the ultimate haunted house—and prompting many of the book’s owners to splay its pages open to visitors,” malacanang.gov.ph said.
However, photographer Wig Tysmans dismissed speculations, saying the distorted image may have been caused by long exposure.
Ghosts or not, these tales of supernatural beings roaming the halls of Malacañan Palace will continue to haunt those staying, and visiting, one of the country’s oldest structures.