Once Upon a Time, Tacloban briefly held the Seat of Power in the Philippines.
That’s something most locals (myself included) often forget about. Thank God for that big white building in Senator Enage Street. Its seemingly-Greek pillars–Neoclassical architecture they call it–is a reminder of that pivotal time in our history.
In 1944, following the death of then-Philippine President Manuel Quezon in New York (He had been evacuated first to Australia and then to America with some cabinet members of the Philippine’s government-in-exile), Sergio Osmeña Sr., his vice-president was named successor and was sworn into presidency. That same year, Osmeña accompanies General Douglas MacArthur on his trip back to the Philippines on what would go down in history as A-Day (Want to read more on this? Check this out:https://whatinthephilippines.com/2019/03/04/general-douglas-macarthur-when-a-man-keeps-his-word/). McArthur subsequently proclaims him President of the Philippines inside the walls of the Capitol. Not even four months later, Osmeña moved to Manila and resumed his duties as President there. The National Historical Committee thought the place warranted recognition years later.
Originally built on 1907, it has been restored after World War II and have been beautified later throughout the years. On 1964, it was expanded to feature two bas-relief sculptures depicting historical scenes. One side has the Leyte Landing sculpted into the wall with MacArthur’s speech engraved below (the same speech can be found in MacArthur Park Memorial in Palo) while the other side features the first mass ever held in the Philippines with a brief narrative from Italian explorer Antonio Pigafetta.
In the middle of the courtyard stands the Philippine flag with an interesting masterpiece standing at its foot. Five men surround the base of the flagpole, garbed in what was considered a soldier’s attire in different eras.
They represent five generations of fighting men who bled for our country’s independence: One was a tribal warrior with a sword and a shield, one wore a long-sleeved uniform and a straw hat–a fighter in the Philippine Revolution against Spaniards. Another was a soldier who belonged in the American-occupation era. Next to him is a bare-chested man yielding both traditional and modern warfare weapons–a guerrilla who fought against the Japanese during World War II. Finally, the last soldier is dressed in the uniform of our present-day heroes; the men and women of the Philippine Army. These soldiers encompass a rich history of struggle and triumph, all for the flag. If that doesn’t stir your patriotism, I don’t know what will.