Ceremonial Chest
Artifact Ceremonial Chest
Location Museum of Philippine Political History

Items and artifacts in the museums administered by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines are all treasures of our history.  One of these unique treasures can be found in the Museum of Philippine Political History (MPPH).  It is a gold-plated ceremonial chest that once held the original copy of one of the most valuable documents in Philippine History, the 1935 Constitution.

In June 1934, Filipinos chose their representatives for the Constitutional Convention. President Manuel Quezon selected the officers of the convention, and Claro M. Recto was elected as the President. The draft of the constitution was completed on 8 February 1935.  On 19 February 1935, a solemn ceremony was held in the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, wherein each delegate signed the Constitution. One delegate, Gregorio Perfecto signed with his own blood.  On 23 March 1935, the Constitution was approved by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and was ratified through a plebiscite on 14 May 1935.

This Constitution established the Commonwealth of the Philippines and provided that upon the withdrawal of American sovereignty in the country and the declaration of Philippine independence, the Commonwealth shall be known as the Republic of the Philippines. It created a republican government with executive, legislative and judiciary branches, and with the strong veto power of the President. The 1935 Constitution served as the fundamental law of the land from 1935 to 1972.

The MPPH aims to present the country’s political history through holograms, original artifacts, touch screen computers, dioramas and light and sound shows. The ceremonial chest which was formerly housed at the Quezon Memorial Shrine, along with the other Manuel L. Quezon memorabilia.

Tracing further its provenance, the chest was donated to the government by Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas, or Tabacalera, a factory of hand-rolled cigars which was founded on Nov. 11, 1881.  The chest was presented to President Manuel Quezon by Lorenzo Correa of the Tabacalera.

The ceremonial chest is made of cedar wood, bronze, cast iron, and gold plated Toledo steel.  The exterior, made of Toledo Steel, is of neo-renaissance, late nineteenth century style.  It has an inscription “Barcelona” and “Berisain”