After the headline-grabbing events in the lead up to the election period and the proclamation of winners, the inauguration—or the formal transition of power in the highest seat of the government—becomes the next much anticipated event in the history of the nation.
That day is today—the oath of office of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Steeped in tradition, the Philippine presidential inauguration has its own set of rites to mark the new leader’s first day in office. Minimal changes have been made by successive incoming administrations, but on the whole, the key symbolic rites have been preserved in Malacañan’ transfer of power.
Starting with Manuel Quezon and Ferdinand Marcos’ second inaugural in 1941 and 1969, respectively, the President-elect traditionally took his oath of office on Rizal Day, December 30. It was in 1981, however, when President Marcos changed the date of the presidential inauguration to its present date of June 30.
The ceremonies begin in the morning with the President-elect fetching his predecessor in Malacañan Palace. The former will wait for the latter to descend the Palace’s famous grand staircase and together, they will ride the Presidential car to Quirino Grandstand. Protocol dictates that the outgoing president takes the back right-hand seat while the incoming president is seated behind the chauffer.
At the venue, a 21-gun salute will welcome the President and President-elect as the honor guard presents the arms. Four ruffles (drum rolls) and flourishes (trumpet blasts) will signal the start of the national anthem, while heralding the leaders’ arrival.
The incumbent President will troop the line and receive the salute of the honor guard and bid farewell to the major service commanders.
At this point, the incumbent is expected to leave the venue in a symbolic act that the old administration has come to an end for the new one to begin.
At exactly 12 noon, the President-elect will take his or her Oath of Office to be followed by the inaugural address.
Following these formal rites, the newly inaugurated President will return to the Palace, this time to take possession of his or her residence. The President will symbolically ascend the Grand Staircase and proceed to the Ceremonial Hall, where the inaugural reception awaits. The end of the evening will mark the new President’s official first day as the country’s Chief Executive.
To make a personal statement, express a specific advocacy, or simply out of preference, practicality and necessity, incoming Presidents have been allowed throughout history to make minor changes to the traditions of the inauguration, mostly in their choice of venue in taking the oath of office.
Today, as the nation welcomes its 16th President—the sixth in the Fifth Republic—Davao’s pride Rodrigo Roa Duterte, The Manila Times takes a look back at the inauguration of the country’s leaders in recent memory. Highlighted in these recollections are the notable variations each one has made as they assumed the highest position in the land, and their reasons for breaking tradition.
Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (1986-1992)
Because her presidency was born out of the historical 1986 People Power Revolution, Corazon Cojuanco Aquino’s inauguration was unable to adhere to the traditions that had been set before.
Three days after the military takeover of Malacañan Palace, Aquino—clad in her trademark yellow dress—took her Oath Supreme before Court Senior Justice Claudio Teehankee at Club Filipino on February 25, 1986 in San Juan.
The scene was far removed from the symbolic inauguration of past Presidents, which had taken place at the Quirino Grandstand, especially since the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who would traditionally administer the oath, simultaneously swore in Ferdinand Marcos in Malacañan. He would later accept defeat from the people’s will and with his entire family, flee the Palace for exile in Hawaii.
Trivia: According to Filipiknow.net, during Aquino’s inauguration, she gave her security detail a big headache when she ordered them to follow the traffic lights en route to Club Filipino—a stark contrast to Marcos’ extravagant motorcades.
Fidel Valdez Ramos (1992-1998)
Following his win 1992 Presidential election, former Armed Forces General and Aquino administration cabinet official Fidel Valdez Ramos was inaugurated on June 30 of the same year.
His was the first inauguration after the ratified 1987 constitution.
Ramos followed the erstwhile inaugural tradition of taking his oath of office at the Quirino Grandstand, administered by then-Chief Justice Andres Narvasa.
Unlike his predecessor, however, Ramos took his oath in Filipino.
Trivia: Interestingly, then-outgoing President Aquino broke tradition and stayed at the Quirino Grandstand to witness Ramos’ inauguration.
Joseph Ejercito Estrada (1998-2001)
Joseph Ejercito Estrada the popular movie actor turned public servant took his oath of office as President of the Philippines on June 30, 1998 at Barasoain Church in the historical town of Malolos, Bulacan.
Unlike his predecessor, he chose to change his inaugural venue to pay tribute to the cradle of the First Philippine Republic. Emilio Aguinaldo, the Philippines’ first president, took his oath of office there.
Moreover, Estrada tradition in fetching the outgoing President from Malacañan Palace. Instead, President Ramos waited for him at Bulacan Provincial Capitol. They also rode a coach to Barasoain Church, instead of the Presidential Car.
Estrada’s inauguration returned to tradition after taking his oath of office, as he proceeded to Malacañan Palace for the ceremonial ascension of the Grand Staircase. He then inducted his new cabinet and president over his first cabinet meeting.
Trivia: A post inaugural ceremony was held also held at the Quirino Grandstand, which had Robert Arevalo and Boots Anson-Roa as host, while Philippine movie’s “superstar” Nora Aunor sang the National Anthem.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-2010)
Then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Arroyo was sworn in as the 14th President of the Philippines on January 20, 2001 by Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. after the Supreme Court unanimously declared the position of President vacant. She was the second female leader of the nation after President Corazon Aquino, following what is now referred to as the People Power 2 or EDSA Dos.
She took her oath in front of Our Lady of Edsa Shrine at the corner of Ortigas Avenue.
Since she was not an elected president when she first took her oath, Arroyo was eligible to run for a second term and won in the hotly contested 2004 elections.
Breaking tradition, she first delivered her inaugural address at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on June 30, 2004, and departed for Cebu City for her oath taking.
Arroyo had chosen Cebu as the site of her inauguration as a gesture of gratitude for delivering the most number of votes in her election.
After Arroyo’s oath, she proceeded to the Shangri-La Mactan Hotel for the vin d’honneur—a yearly traditional reception with the diplomatic corps—and finally headed to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral for a mass presided by Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
Trivia: Arroyo’s second inauguration was the first time that a Philippine president took the oath of office outside Luzon.
Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd (2010-2016)
The inauguration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd reinstated the tradition of the turnover of the office of the President.
The ceremony took place on June 30, 2010 at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, which began with a 21-gun salute for outgoing president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
A sea of people witnessed the inauguration in Manila, considered as one of the biggest gatherings at the Quirino Grandstand at that time. Two former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada also witnessed Aquino’s oath of office.
After the inauguration, a luncheon with the new President’s favourite Japanese dishes was served at the Kalayaan Hall of Malacañan Palace followed by a mass oath-taking of local officials and his new cabinet members.
Later in the day, Aquino held his first cabinet meeting, which was followed by a street party for the people at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.
Trivia: Aquino’s inauguration and post-inaguration party was very star-studded, even more than that of former President Estrada, thanks to his sister Kris’ showbiz friends. The Quirino Grandstand had Apo Hiking Society’s Jim Paredes and crusader aka Juana Change as hosts, with Charice singing the National Anthem and the likes of OPM icons Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez, Noel Cabangon, and Gary Valenciano providing entertainment for the crowd.