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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Coconut Palace: A Testament to the Filipino Ingenuity (and Imeldification)


No one loves Manila as much as I do. Despite the sweltering heat, I was determined to rediscover my favorite city in the world. This so-called rediscovery was no spontaneous plan though. My new camera, a Sony A77, had something to do it. I wanted to do some test shots but it had to be worth my while. I figured I could write about the new hotels in Manila since that was my kind of blogging, as most people would put it (Separate post for that tomorrow). Coconut Palace also presented itself as an option upon my sister's timely suggestion. Immediately, I headed out of the condo to find something new from the present and something old from the past in my dear Manila. 

We went to the Palace grounds in the CCP complex unannounced, thinking that we could view the it in our own terms. It did not look assuring at first after the Palace guard said people needed to book at least a week before the tour date. However, with some charm and convincing power (Our driver/bodyguard had to name-drop. It was his idea; not mine), they gladly toured us later that day. 

There were a couple of trivial yet fascinating things I learned after the tour:

1) The Coconut Palace, a.k.a Tahanang Filipino (The Filipino Home) was commissioned by Former Imelda Marcos for Pope John Paul II's visit 1981 Manila visit. The Pope, however, politely declined the invitation, considering the nation's poverty stricken state. With his stature as the head of the Catholic Church, staying in an ostentatious Palace did not seem appropriate for his Holiness (Now Blessed John Paul).

2) During the Marcos regime (Read: Not time), the Coconut Palace became the guesthouse for some famous personalities. These were Brooke Shields (guest during the inauguration in 1981), George Hamilton, and Libyan Leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.

3) Built in 1978, the Coconut Palace was a testament to the versatility and export power of the coconut a.k.a. The Tree of Life. Francisco Manosa was the architect responsible for its impressive design  All parts of the coconut were exhausted: from the root, trunk, bark, fruit, all the way to the shell. 

4) The Palace used to be made of 70% coconut but time and weather conditions were not kind .Coconut was not as strong as people thought. Eventually, some of the structures had to be changed to other types of hardwood. Another interesting thing to note is that the entire property has 68 columns shaped like inverted coconut trees. The material used now to make these column more durable was fibre glass.

5) On February 11, 2011,  GSIS turned over the Palace to the VP Jejomar Binay upon signing the lease with a whopping monthly rental of P400,000. 

6) The Palace stands on a 2.7 hectare property, and is estimated to be about P1.2 billion!

7) There was really a lot of things I did not know about this famous landmark.

When I reached the lobby entrance, the ornate grand staircase and the impressive 101-coconut shells easily showed me how lavish this Palace was.


If you look closely, the lobby door has intricate details made of...Well, I'll let you figure that out.


Look up and you'll see portraits of our previous Vice Presidents displayed on the walls. 

Beauty is truly in the details. Our national flower, the sampaguita, was meticulously carved on the balustrade of the staircase.


Another highlight or the Palace is the conference room's dining table. It  is made of 40,000 tiny pieces of inlaid coconut shells and only has five legs to make room for guests wearing gowns.


What I found interesting were these so-called ventanillas (?) This was a common a common part of the house during the Spanish time. As the name suggests, these smaller windows serve to let more air inside. Without the risk of falling, small children were allowed to watch events or fiesta while peering through the ventanillas.


More geometric elements on the floor.




This table is also inlaid with a mix of hard and soft coconut shells.


On the second floor, you'll find one of the dining rooms. The mural here was by Araceli Dans (Ill post a picture later)


It also has the coconut chandelier but not as grand as the one in the entrance.


Another mural shows the evolution of Spanish costume in time.




Exotic headgears from different tribes in the Philippines are also on display.




The rooms here are named after provinces in the Philippines. We were only able to see 3 of them since the other one was privately used by VP Binay. 

The Zamboanga Room. It has bed posts designed by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.



Laminated coconut on the bathroom walls.

Each room has its own spacious terrace. 
The Pampanga Room. (I forgot to upload a picture of the bed)



The Ilocos Room is the easily grandest of the three. They are currently updating the room's furniture, hence the chaos.

The bathroom is bigger than most condos in Manila.

You should feel like a million dollars when you take a bath in this tub.


The terrace has an outstanding  view of the famous Manila Bay Sunset. 

The Palace is shaped like an octagon while the roof is shaped like a traditional Filipino salakot or hat. The pool used to have an octagonal shape (like an English coffin) but it was changed because Feng-Shui said it was bad luck.

The Coconut Palace is worthy of all the praises that it has received. Any Vice President is fortunate to have this as his official residence and workplace. There are only a few places in Manila where you could see the ingenuity and rich history of the Filipinos. The Coconut Palace is definitely one of them.

At the end of my private tour, my thought bubble could only spell out IMELDIFIC! Imelda Marcos was stamped all over the palace that even some of the coconut lumber used was named  Imelda Madera. That's power for you.

Now, someone please pass me some Coconut juice!

For Tours, Contact Donna Comia at 8326791 to 99 local 125. The site says they accept walk-ins but I dont advise it. Or check 02 832 1898. Book early! 

40 comments:

Monette said...

Hi Deo,

thanks for sharing.its my first time to see inside of Coconut palace, and like what you said, it is so Imeldific..btw, how much will it cost me to tour this place.

deobaraanmd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deobaraanmd said...

Welcome Monette! I was told it would be free now. just need to call the numbers i posted. :)

retrochic said...

i should have gone with u. haha :D

Pinoy Adventurista said...

so nice! wahhhh! until now, di ko pa yan nakikita... sana soon! thanks for sharing Deo! :)

Kristine Tan said...

Where is it located?

deobaraanmd said...

@ mervs - welcome! we should organize a tour group next time for the PTBs.

deobaraanmd said...

@ sis- yes go with me nxext time!
krisitine- it's near sofitel hotel /picc.

Josiah | Lakas ng Trip said...

Ang ganda at nandito lang siya sa Manila. I hope to visit there soon. :)

deobaraanmd said...

@ josiah! I know! Sayang since most people dont know. i can organize od trip for th PTBS.

rae said...

very informative blog,now i'm aware of this wonderful structure in manila.thanks! btw,fantastic shots u got :)

deobaraanmd said...

thanks rae! many people dont know about it. i have a Manila series so ill finish everything tomorrow. :)

Rowena Baraan-Krifaton said...

Gorgeous! We definitely have to see this next time we're in Manila! Wow!

deobaraanmd said...

We will bring you tita! it would be so easy!

Anonymous said...

Kindly remove that app box on the left margin of your screen. Hard to read your article with that box ever present on the screen. Thanks.

Kristine Tan said...

Thanks doc deo, i hope i can visit it soon! :)

deobaraanmd said...

welcome kristine! i hope you do get to visit! :)

deobaraanmd said...

@Anonymous- if you are using a tablet, it might be a problem. It's fine when u are using a laptop or pc. :)

Icy Curiano said...

I always passed by Sofitel, but never noticed that one, maybe through the years, it slipped on my mind that we actually have that! A nice reminder that its still there and been well-taken care of!

biyachessa said...

wow! ang ganda! hopefully the bagets can tour soon!

deobaraanmd said...

@brenna - we should organize one! :)

deobaraanmd said...

@Icy - I think people have forgotten that it actually exists. Nice to share this to everyone.

Art Blogger said...

This is so nice Deo! Awesome post & photos!!! Grabe! :) Hope I can visit this too someday. Sama mo ako next time! :)

deobaraanmd said...

@vin--maybe I can orgainize a tour for those who are interested..and thanks, btw! :) Cheers!

Marites said...

you're really lucky. I heard they're quite strict nowadays. I've visited this place when it was open to public. The intricate artifacts from top to bottom is just amazing. One of the tour guides said that the intricate flower designs on the long table were made by children from Paete. Not sure if true. Even so, the place is really amazing.

deobaraanmd said...

yes! they had to get chiildren from Laguna to do the detailing. it sure is worth a visit! :)

kay's korner said...

Thank you so much for posting this. This would definitely be in my itinerary when I visit Manila again. I really enjoy reading your blog, very informative and straight forward coupled with some very nice photos. Good work Doc Deo!

deobaraanmd said...

Hi Kay! Yes, I try to make it as simple as possible. It's a blog. Not a novel. haha. I do hope you get to visit Coconut Palace. Try booking a week before :)
Thanks so much for the kind words! Appreciate it!

Abby said...

Hi Kuya Deo. Thank you for posting this. :) This would help me for our research in design. I'm actually planning to visit there but I don't know how to book. Can you help me? Thanks! :)

deobaraanmd said...

Hi Abby! Just call the number Ive posted here. Might be a good idea to Gi there with a group. let me know if there are problems.

Abby said...

Ayun. Thanks po! I'll invite my blockmates there so it would be more fun. :D

deobaraanmd said...

Enjoy! :)

Abby said...

Good morning! Kuyaaaa the contact number doesn't work. It said, "The destination is unavailable." I tried all but still nothing. :(

deobaraanmd said...

Check this number 02 832-1898

Abby said...

Kuya Deo if you dont mind can i get your contact number too? so I can easily contact you if ever there are problems again. Thank you! :) I tried calling awhile ago but there's no answer. :(

WANDER SHUGAH said...

Oh gooodness this palace is grand! Indeed it is Imeldific!

deobaraanmd said...

haha it is! Would actually be a cool hotel and this would be the lobby.

Anne said...

yay! interested ako! Sama naman ako sa tour please...... hehe! I really love to go there kaso mag isa lang naman ako. Sad...

deobaraanmd said...

you can always go alone! fun nonetheless!

Priyank patil said...

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