Filipinos will soon have a chance to look behind Malacañang’s guarded gates and get a glimpse of the daily lives of the people who’ve devoted their lives to protect the president through the National Geographic documentary, Inside Malacanang.
Apart from the goings-on within the presidential palace, the documentary spotlights four important men who make the president’s job easier: his personal taste tester Senior Police Officer 3 Jaime Castro, the head of the Presidential Security Group Colonel Ramon Mateo Dizon, his personal body guard Senior Police Officer 4 Lito Africano, and his official photographer Jay Morales.
At the documentary’s premiere, President Benigno Aquino III revealed he’s a fan of similar documentaries, such as NatGeo’s Inside the White House and Inside Air Force One. “This documentary will open up the palace not only to the Philippines, but also the whole world,” he said proudly. He also added, "Inside Malacañang will give you a glimpse of the lives of the four people who work here, [people] who work very closely with me to help me to do my work as president,” saying that the documentary also “immortalizes their hard work and dedication.”
In an interview with Yahoo! Southeast Asia, the president commented how Inside Malacañang captured the four men “completely and correctly,” he said. The president also revealed how an anecdote in the documentary also brought on memories of his mother, former president Corazon Aquino. “For some strange reason, my mother’s group commander, the present Secretary of National Defense [Victor Gazmin], would be teased by my mother. She would say that his smile seems to be too expensive. I think there was one point where she was saying, ‘I can count on my two hands in the six-and-a-half years that you ever smiled.’ The PSG men are always so serious. My incumbent PSG commander also practically didn’t smile during the almost one-hour [documentary] so I don’t know if that’s a qualification for the job,” he chuckled.
The president also praised the documentary’s visuals. “I was surprised how Malacañang looked, it looked better. [The filmmakers] really captured it in a different light.”
This almost two-year production is a dream that’s come into fruition for the people behind the documentary.
Jude Turcuato, Fox International Channels vice-president and territory head for the Philippines, said at the premiere that this is the first for the Philippines, as most of the documentaries about the country only made it to the channel if they featured tragic events or controversies. “We needed to produce something that wasn’t born out of any controversy, and was conceptualized by Filipinos, about Filipinos, produced by Filipinos, directed by Filipinos and funded by the local Philippine office.”
The documentary has so impressed National Geographic that they have picked it up for international distribution for the rest of the world to see. “We can be united and proud of what we can accomplish and show the world that we can compete in producing high quality, factual entertainment,” Turcuato said.
Producer and Director Marnie Manicad echoes Turcuato’s sentiment, and describes the challenges her production team faced when filming Inside Malacañang. “[It was] challenging because in doing this documentary, we had to convince the very, very, very strict presidential security group to allow us to film inside Malacañang and get to know its secrets without jeopardizing presidential or national security. In doing so, the PSG has not only opened the doors of Malacañang to our production team but now the entire world, giving us insight into what Malacañang means to us as Filipinos and the sacrifices that the PSG will do in order to protect the president, which I believe reflects our true character as Filipinos and as a nation.”
"Inside Malacañang" premieres on March 18, 9:00 p.m. on the National Geographic channel.