Friday, July 17, 2009

when manila looked like paris

myrza, the editor in chief of, is our facebook friend and just this past week, she sent us this link when manila looked like paris. go see it, it's an 11-minute vintage black and white video titled "the screen traveler" that was produced by the americans in the late 1930s. it explores the city of manila and there you'll recognize some buildings in their prime, which now have been either torn down or left to rot or still stand but are largely ignored. sad.

seeing the video was timely for us because also just this past week, we went to the manila hotel, which was also seen in the video: "...the famous manila hotel, overlooking the bay, is one of the finest air-conditioned hotels in the tropics." and for the longest time, manila hotel WAS the finest hotel. we have lots of memories of that hotel. we were one of the five million people camped out in front of the quirino grandstand in 1995, waiting to see pope john paul II; the manila hotel was our mess hall, bathroom, and barracks (iow, naki-tulog hehe). we were one of dozens of people stalking supermodel linda evangelista in 1995 when she was billeted there. we literally stood outside the lift till she walked out and we shocked her with flashing camera bulbs—so paparazzi! and of course that's where michael jackson stayed when he came to the philippines for the second time in 1996. read this touching story of his stay there written by then-staffer gwen cariño, which appeared in the philippine star last jul 5. that's her below with the king of pop, fielding the autograph hounds... so a few days ago, we took a mini-tour of manila hotel and we're glad to see that they have preserved the building and kept most of it as is. it's got good bones and shouldn't be messed with. in this day and age of "progress," some corporations don't hesitate to tear old structures down in order to make way for new ones. we're also glad to see that manila hotel is little by little re-furbishing the interiors—changing carpets and drapes and upholstery but still maintaining the old-world feel of the hotel. one of the newest and biggest changes is to its chinese restaurant mabuhay palace. check out the neo-chinois interiors: they also spruced up the champagne room. during the day, it's got lovely light streaming through the windows; wonder what it looks like at night. too bad they can no longer open the drapes of the arched doorways that USED to lead out into the garden; the new tent now stands there. sayang, we also have nice memories of attending cocktail receptions in that garden with the huge tree strung with twinkling lights and looking out into the bay. did they chop down that tree?? (cheez: we heard a rumor that the piolo-KC teleserya "lovers in paris" wanted to film a scene in the champagne room and pretend it was in paris because it was the only place they could find in manila that had an "authentic" european look and ambience. odiba??) we hope they keep their signature giant chandeliers in the lobby (and we hope they re-upholster the sofas; we sank deep into one when we sat!)... if you want to sit and have a drink and a smoke (yes, you can smoke) and be entertained by a torch singer, check out the tap room, which has an english-pub look and ambience. we plan to one of these nights...
(michael jackson photo courtesy of gwen cariño)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i heard manila hotel has been little by little renovating the rooms of the main building. also the suite rooms. can't wait to see that as well. the lobby should be renovated as well, or refurbished, if not. :) however, manila hotel has been such a historical place so it's really not a piece of cake touching some pieces. hehe.