facade of the Sto. Nino Shrine
Whatever appears to be simple is something that needs further confirmation.  The popular saying "Do not judge a book by its cover" is true for the Sto Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum.  The simplicity at its onset should not be trusted and is very much deceitful.

The Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum is the top tourist destination in Tacloban City and it is a shame that I was born and raised in the city yet I have not set foot in this structure.  

I decided to witness for myself why this has been tagged as a popular tourist destination so as to transport back in time and witness the grandeur of Romualdez and Marcos clans' way of living while under the seat of power and governance.

For the daughter of Tacloban, Madam Imelda Romualdez Marcos, the Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum was built by the late President Ferdinand Marcos as one of its 29 Presidential rest houses in the Philippines.  Today, the said property is managed by the PCGG as part of the ill-gotten wealth of the late President.

Getting technical by its name, a shrine is a holy or sacred place dedicated to a specific deity, hero, saint or similar figure at which they are worshipped.  Ironically, the building is named after the patron saint Sto. Nino, yet it showcases the lifestyle of the Romualdez clan, with a collection of antique paintings, sculptures, ceramics, pottery, furniture and fixtures from China, Vienna, Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe from renowned and known artists.  A recollection of what our tour guide told us revealed that a few of these collections include the carpets from Argentina, chandeliers from Czech Republic, tiles from Italy, mirrors from Austria displayed in every room, the silver chair which I sat from Spain, jars and a carved wooden cabinet in one of the rooms that smells like incense are from China and original paintings from national artist Fernando Amorsolo.  

Although upon entering the shrine, there is an altar of the Sto. Nino de Leyte which greets you and designed as a chapel too, the same is actually not open  and designed for patrons of the Sto. Nino to worship and offer gifts.  This would actually pass more of a museum than a shrine.

The shrine is open everyday even on weekends from 8AM to 5PM with one hour lunch break.  As to the entrance fees, 1st five persons cost 200 pesos, in excess of five, an additional fee of 20 pesos per head is charged.  If you have your camera, there is an extra charge of 30 pesos per camera and 200 pesos for video.

Upon entering the Museum, a change of footwear is a must and slippers are provided by the management on shades of blue, red or green as choices.  Every group is entitled to a tour guide.  The tour guide then opens the chandelier lights to have a view of the altar.  It should be noted that beside the replica of Sto. Nino are St. Vincent and St. Remedios, which remarkably are the names of Imelda's parents.

The photos I have taken inside the museum are not that clear due to the poor lighting system.  Ventilation also needs to be improved.  Everything else is grand and opulent. 

altar of the Sto. Nino de Leyte - chandeliers off

slippers (tsinelas) to choose from while on tour

warm welcome from Sto Nino de Leyte 

Both sides of the altar showcases 13 guest rooms with 13 different motiffs.  The rooms definitely stick to its motiff, for instance, a butterfly room has butterflies as part of its interiors, the Capiz rooms with capiz shells and so on, which mostly are named after provinces and showcases the products of the said provinces. Each room also displays framed signed photographs of Madam Imelda and the late President Marcos and dioramas depicting Madam Imelda's various projects throughout the Philippines ranging from health, tourism and infrastructure projects.

capiz shells in a Capiz room

mosaic of Jesus: tiles from Italy

for every guest room only the photo frame changes depending on the theme but the photos are a mainstay

one of the many dioramas

We could not help but discuss at how amazing, expensive and priceless such display of antique collections were.  The tour guide must have heard us and told us to wait until we reach the second floor.  

The second floor houses intricate and lavish collections. It was difficult to describe.  I hope I do justice by saying that the  following pictures would really paint a thousand words.  

wooden bas-relief of the legend of the First Filipino man-woman (Si Malakas at Si Maganda)

alitaptap (fireflies) room - named after its ceiling interiors

silver wedding anniversary pictures on a wall made of banig

The red-carpet grand staircase leading to the second floor as reflected in a large Austrian mirror
the Romualdez clan as painted by a female Spanish artist

spacious ballroom showcasing the grand and majestic wooden chandelier

ceramics from China used as either footrest or support for pillows

Photos of the late former President Marcos bedroom:


Remarkable views from the eldest son's room, Ferdinand Marcos II

display of grades and award

collection of paper bill
A peek of the daughters rooms:

Imee's bed
Irene's room

Aimee's room with the yaya

There is no denying that that the Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum is basically all about Madam Imelda Marcos.  And so, we have to save the last for the best attraction.  Honestly, my friend and I thinks the mansion is more like of a haunted house, and if not really maintained, will certainly provide a creepy experience.

hallway leading to Imelda's bedroom

reflection of the chandeliers in what they call as the "endless mirror" - images are endless


the bed

Souvenirs are also available at the right side of the altar, ground floor of the museum.

with our tour guide - damo na salamat! (thanks very much)

Location: Real Street, Tacloban City, Leyte

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