Old world charm with a heart
I have always been fascinated with the old world charm of The Manila Hotel, its banquet venues and guest rooms. In fact, I chose the romantic ambiance of the Champagne Room as the venue for my wedding reception eons ago, and the historic MacArthur Suite as our (with my bride) cocoon for a few days after the wedding. This is why the hotel will always be very special to me.
This historic five-star hotel along Manila Bay, on the northwestern end of Rizal Park, is the oldest deluxe hotel in the country, and has 570 well-designed rooms that showcase the best in Filipino art and culture. It was opened on July 4, 1912 to commemorate the American Independence.
Its rich history and grandeur have attracted celebrities from all over the world, to try its facilities and de luxe service. Aside from Douglas MacArthur who lived there during the War, The Manila Hotel has also been the temporary home of celebrated authors Ernest Hemingway and James Michener, Hollywood actors in the ‘50s Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and John Wayne, entertainers Sammy Davis Jr., The Beatles, and Michael Jackson, US presidents John F. Kennedy and William J. Clinton, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, and many other important world leaders.
I can never have enough of the hotel’s elegant lobby. It banners the best materials indigenous to the country. The floor is made of Philippine marble, and all the furniture pieces are carved out of the sturdy Philippine mahogany. The beautiful giant chandeliers, which are made of brass, crystal, and seashells, have a story behind them.
There used to be only three of those, but when the late Don Emilio Yap bought the hotel from the government, a feng shui expert told him to increase the chandeliers to five. Thanks to such advice, there are now five lavishly styled chandeliers to welcome and dazzle hotel guests at the lobby.
The Manila Hotel’s Penthouse Suite, which offers a breathtaking view of Manila Bay, Rizal Park, and Intramuros, has its own swimming pool on the 18th floor. Like the Presidential Suite, it is also decorated with rare art masterpieces and Asian antiques. Guests who check in at these luxury accommodations are provided with 24-hour butler service, and may also avail of limousine service or the helipad on the roof deck.
Not too long ago, I had lunch with the hotel’s president, former Senator Atty. Joey Lina. He treated our small group of friends to a feast of superb Chinese cuisine at the Red Jade. He promised the group that, with the menu he prepared for us, we would feel like we were enjoying lunch in China, and we did. The hotel’s talented Chef Sun Bing, who is from Beijing, served us the tastiest Peking duck and an array of other Chinese specialties which, I recommend, you have to try. They are so delightfully delectable…you’ll forget your name!
Over lunch, we discussed Atty. Lina’s advocacy, which is to help the country solve our problem on malnutrition and undernutrition, currently affecting three out of every 10 Filipino children. He shared with us figures that show 45 percent of child deaths worldwide are due to undernutrition.
To address this problem, DepEd has asked schools to participate in the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program which has become the source of ingredients for the school-based Feeding Program, and further encouraging families to have their own home gardens for continuous nutritional supply. However, this project is not enough to solve a gigantic problem such as this.
This is why Atty. Lina and The Manila Hotel feel the need to do what they can to help feed undernourished children, thus, the decision to form Ginoo, a musical trio of baritenores. They will stage a fundraising concert, Bagyo Ng Musika, at the Fiesta Pavilion of the hotel on June 12, for the benefit of the Grade 1 and 2 pupils of Marawi City. Of course, Atty. Joey Lina leads the trio, which includes Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo and corporate lawyer and former Press Secretary Mike Toledo.
Atty. Lina is now preparing his repertoire of Broadway hits and dramatic standards, while Atty. Panelo, who is a mean piano wiz himself, will regale the audience with his original composition, a love song which Freddie Santos, the show’s director, promises to cast a magic spell on the ladies. Atty. Toledo is sticking to his favorite genre, jazz. They will be joined by acclaimed West End performer Jenine Desiderio.
Musical accompaniment will be provided by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, while Beth Tagle’s Salute Promotions handles the project management. Tickets to this concert-for-a-cause are available at 0917-5088858 or at The Manila Hotel’s Banquet Events Team (02) 527-0011 extension 1275.
Now, this is what being Filipino is all about…The Manila Hotel…elegant, artistic, charming…with a heart!
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