The Philippines' iconic Manila Hotel celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. The California Missionary-styled building designed by architect William Parsons officially opened its doors on July 4, 1912. This first-class premiere accommodation was the first in the Philippines and was the choice of the affluent tourists who visited the country.
As part of the master plan of Manila, Parsons designed a hotel that is situated at the center of the graceful half-moon of Manila Harbor, providing the hotel a commanding view of the fabled Manila Bay sunset. It was an elegant edifice by the bay, and through the years Manila Hotel was the first hotel to have modern convenience known to man, including air-conditioned rooms, telephone lines and the first guest lift to be installed in Asia.
Since its grand opening, Manila Hotel has lived through two world wars, the formation of a new republic, the rise and fall of a dictatorship and two People Power revolutions, among others. A bastion of refined traditions, it is one of the few Philippine landmarks that has survived the turbulent history of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Aptly called the "Address of the Prestige," Manila Hotel has been the choice of world leaders, royalties, notable personalities and legendary figures. Indeed, it was a hotel that made history. It has been the official residence and headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur during his tenure as the military advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. It has been the venue of lavish banquets for the members of the royal family, grand society balls and milestones in Philippine government, including the Philippine Constitutional Convention in 1971.
The great storyteller Ernest Hemingway who once stayed at the Hotel said it is a good story if it is like Manila Hotel, in response to a reporter asking what made a good novel. The hotel, which mirrors the Filipino culture and tradition and has played part in shaping the country, was declared a historical landmark on Feb. 3, 1997.
The 100th-year celebration commenced with a grand Centennial Ball last July 4. The event's highlights included the unveiling of the hotel's centennial logo; a three-dimensional video mapping projections of the hotel's history that brought the hotel's building to life; and a grand ball featuring elaborate dance performances by Filipino artists. A 20-piece exhibition featuring the most important artifacts and memorabilia of the hotel was also on display.
For the entire anniversary campaign, the hotel will host a series of commemorative events and a special program for its guests. It will offer exciting room packages, including a special room rate of P1,912 for the first 100 guests to book at the hotel's front desk on July 4 and on Oct. 6. As part of the celebration, special commemorative items will also be launched, including the Manila Hotel postal stamp and a set of luxurious items that will be made available to the guests.
Manila Hotel would also like to share with this generation memories and treasured items of the Grand Dame. An exhibit will be set up beginning July and will be open for one year at the Lobby Lounge. A memorabilia search will be launched to invite previous guests to share their memories of the hotel.
The hotel will also recreate the favorite dishes of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the el mero envolvio en hojas de platano or steamed lapu-lapu wrapped in banana leaves with calamansi sauce and squab chicken manhoco or stuffed chicken terrine with mushrooms, olives; and Quezon de bola, the favored dish of President Manuel Quezon. These and other Filipino favorites will be offered in the tenth buffet station of Café Ilang-Ilang.
To know more about the centennial anniversary, visit www.manila-hotel.com.ph. Be a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ManilaHotel) and follow it on Twitter (www.twitter.com./manilahotel).