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Old Presidencia Building of Dumaguete City - A long enduring landmark of architectural significance and cultural heritage in the City of Gentle People.

Old Presidencia Building of Dumaguete City
Cover graphic with exterior photo (NMP FMD) and architectural drawings (NMP AABHD) (2019)


In 1901 the civil government under American rule was established. The municipal hall was one of the building types introduced by the Americans adopting new building technology infused with traditional materials and craftsmanship.  The municipal hall building typologies were developed by noted American architect William Parsons. The Presidencia of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental is a distinct example of such architecture.


main entrance of the Presidencia showing intricate grillwork patterns and the overhanging wooden volada of the structure and capis shells on the windows
Detail photo of the main entrance of the Presidencia showing intricate grillwork patterns and the overhanging wooden volada of the structure and capis shells on the windows


The Presidencia as it stands today was originally built in 1937, designed by renowned Filipino architect Juan M. Arellano. Arellano’s design of the original Presidencia is a combination of Spanish and American styles adapted to the Filipino context. The edifice maintained its colonial aesthetics, evidenced by its monumental, geometric form in monochrome, and the use of Spanish tile roofing. The design implements distinctly Filipino elements such as the overhanging portions of the second level reminiscent of the volada or overhanging galleries of bahay-na-bato in the floral style as an extension of the rooms, and the implementation of capis and ventanilla in window design. The intricate metal grillwork used both aesthetically and functionally in the design of the structure is also noteworthy.


Being the seat of power throughout the colonial history of Dumaguete City, the Presidencia’s strength of character has sustained its continuous use into modernity, with the offices of the local government of Dumaguete developing around the Presidencia itself, creating what is now known as the “City Hall Quadrangle”. In 2019, the National Museum declared the Presidencia as an Important Cultural Property, owing to its exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance. 


Preview rendering of future AABHD exhibitions to be housed within the Presidencia, one of the many galleries to be housed in the new regional branch of the National Museum | NMP EEMPSD 2020
Preview rendering of future AABHD exhibitions to be housed within the Presidencia, one of the many galleries to be housed in the new regional branch of the National Museum | NMP EEMPSD 2020


However, with the ever-present need for development, the local government of Dumaguete has deemed it necessary to transfer their offices away from the Presidencia, in part to make way for its preservation and restoration. Dumaguete City has thus partnered with the National Museum of the Philippines for the protection of the Presidencia, adamant that the structure not fall into disuse and disrepair. The building has undergone careful restoration and conversion work, guided by the original 1936 architectural plans of Juan M. Arellano, to retain its prestige in a new function as a the NM Negros Island Regional Museum. 


As the National Museum in Negros, the Old Presidencia shall be a repository of the cultural history of Central Visayas, itself being a monument and bastion to the shared heritage of the people it has stood watch over for generations. Though no longer a municipal hall, the Presidencia will remain a hub of community consciousness, engagement, and appreciation of local and national heritage. 


Though your #NationalMuseumPH is still temporarily closed to the public, take heart that exhibitions for the National Museum in Negros are already in the works, and we cannot wait to welcome visitors once again. But for now, as we all work together to persevere through these unprecedented times, we hope you’ve enjoyed learning with your #MuseumFromHome!



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Credits:

Text and drawings by Ar. Armando Arciaga III AABHD | Photos by NMP FMD (2019) | Exhibition drawings by NMP EEMPSD (2020)

© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

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