Filipina directs documentary on Malacañang for National Geographic Channel


MARNIE Manicad (left) interviews President Aquino, along with four of his closest aides for the docu.Photo courtesy of JR and Arianne Rodriguez

Talk about the ultimate home invasion.

For the coming National Geographic Channel (NGC) documentary, “Inside Malacañang,” filmmaker Marnie Manicad gives viewers a peek into the country’s most tightly guarded address – the official residence and workplace of President Benigno Aquino III.

Manicad didn’t go into the project blindly; she was fully aware of the challenges. Securing all the necessary permits and gaining the insiders’ trust were only the beginning.

“We got access to the most secluded parts of the Palace,” she recounted. “We also had to convince the Presidential Security Group (PSG) that we needed to film their training sessions and operations.”

Deeper insight

Manicad and her team had to justify their every move, especially if it involved the four people who are closest to the President – the group commander of the PSG, the personal security aide, the food tester and the presidential photographer.

She was stunned to discover that there actually was a person assigned to taste the President’s meals beforehand. She admitted, “I thought the food tester was an urban legend.”

Making the docu yielded other discoveries as well. “I learned more about the history and evolution of the place. It provided us with a deeper insight on the Palace – not just the physical structure, but its meaning to us, as Filipinos.”

THE DOCUMENTARIAN (right) in the Palace kitchen. Now she knows that the food tester is no urban legend.Photo courtesy of JR and Arianne Rodriguez

In making “Inside Malacañang,” Manicad said, she was inspired by the NGC docus “Inside the Vatican,” “Inside: The Obama White House,” “Air Force One” and “Restrepo: Outpost Afghanistan.”

These “nontraditional” stories encouraged Manicad to “push the limits” of local docu-making. “It’s difficult to make docus, especially if it’s about a heavy topic,” she admitted. “In doing narrative feature films, you can adjust on the set. But with docus, you need complete grasp of the subject, because you can’t make excuses once you start shooting.”

Things are made more arduous by the very high journalistic and filmmaking standards set by NGC, whose editors went over every line of the script with a fine-toothed comb.

“For this docu, I had a 16-page voiceover script,” Manicad related. “But with the added research annotations and references, it reached over 84 pages. NGC is that strict when it comes to facts and details.”

NGC doesn’t accept popular online sources such as Wikipedia for the kind of information she needed. “You should only rely on books, actual reports and first-hand interviews,” the filmmaker said. “The script had to be cleared by NGC Singapore, Hong Kong and Washington DC before we could record the final narration, done by veteran actor Joonee Gamboa.”

It’s a landmark docu. It will not just give viewers an unprecedented, all-access pass to the Palace; it will also be shown on National Geographic channels all over the globe in the first quarter of this year.

“It’s unbelievable. I only used to dream about making docus. Now, not only did I finish one; as a bonus, it will be aired on NGC,” Manicad said.

Top supporter

Helping her every step of the way was husband Jiggy Manicad, GMA 7 reporter and anchor. “Jiggy has always been my top supporter. He breathes news and investigative docus. He gives me a lot of constructive criticism. We’re a team. He acted as creative consultant on this docu and also on my coming film.”

Apart from producing the motoring show “Turbo Zone” on GMA News TV, she also codirected with Cesar Apolinario, her husband’s fellow GMA 7 reporter, a feature film entitled “Dance of the Steelbars,” top-billed by Hollywood actor Patrick Bergin and Kapuso star Dingdong Dantes. “In the works is another docu for NGC in 2012. I also hope to produce a new TV show soon,” she said.


Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Xwcd Cxw

    na-film ba yung party ni Pnoy at ni Valerie concepcion?

    • Black Magic

      sorry po sir…hindi po tlaga kasi si PNoy lang yong topic nung Docu…yong Inside Malacanang po tlga. Nagkataon lang po na si PNoy ang nakaupo!

  • Anonymous

    Papanooron ko to. Comedy ang genre eh.

    • Black Magic

      sorry po sir pero hindi po tlaga Comedy. Ingit ka po ba? Kasi si PNoy masasali sa Archive ng NGC bilang Presidente? at ikaw eh wla man lang nakakakilala except sa friends mo at pamilya mo? pero sana nga panuorin mo kasi minsan mo lang mapapanuod yan sa tanang buhay mo. malamay mo…bukas mamamatay ka na at least lam mo ang nangyayari sa loob ng Malacanang kahit di ka man lang nakapasok sa gate!

      • Anonymous

        Walang Cable Subscription yan! Hayaan mo na! hahaha

  • Anonymous

    Galing! Go PNOy!!

    Eat your hearts out crabs!

    • ricci santiago

      seesh. you’re the one who is doing the trolling here… just stick to ‘its fun in the phils forum’ or whatever. and your nick  ‘kulit-wit’ is already a sign of your amoral way of thinking.

  • Xwcd Cxw

    @Black Magic, magkano ang bayad sa iyo sa pagtanggol ke Pnoy? baka pwede ka naman magpa-burger nyan….

    Burger! Burger! Burger!

  • Anonymous

    Hihintayin ng mga haters yan, bibili ng beer saka popcorn tapos nakasurround sound pa hahaha tutulo pa laway ng mga yan habang nakangangang pinapakinggan ang mala-anghel na boses ni Pnoy…..hahaha, joke lang po mga anti-Pnoy, easy lang po sa pagkain ng chicharon….namnamin nyo naman yan, wag puro lunok dahil sa inis hahaha

  • Anonymous

    Food taster? He reminds me of Pu Yi, the last chinese emperor;;;;;never trusted the kitchen help.

    • Shai

      meron din si Marcos nun eh…dahil maraming galit sa kanya…takot baka lasunin sya.

  • Cynthia

    NGC documentaries are of the highest quality and to be featured there and directed by Marnie Manicad is in itself a wonderful thing, congratulations!  can’t wait to see it added to some of their features on Tarsier, Pinatubo, Corregidor.  Great stuff!

  • Mamang Pulis

    hmmm…ipakikita ba yun mga gamit ni pnoy sa shooting?

  • dequis

    si jonee gamboa isa sa kilalang boses sa bansa, puede nga sigurong sabihin ng ganito: kung ang mga kano may jack palance, ang mga pinoy may joonee gamboa. sana hwag namang patagalin bago malagay ito sa youtube

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos