The Stories of Manila Hotel

If Raffles Hotel is said to be the embodiment of Singapore’s rich culture, the Manila Hotel serves as the favorite muse of all hotels in the Philippines. It is described as a “living testimonial of Philippine heritage.”

Built by the Americans near the turn of the 20th century, the Manila Hotel has stood witness to important events in Philippine history including the Philippine Commonwealth, the Second World War, the Restoration of the Philippine Republic, Martial Law, People Power, Restoration of Democracy, attempts of Coup d’ etat, Impeachment of an incumbent president and so much more. Despite the wear and tear of time, Manila Hotel is still surviving and fighting for its existence in Philippine landscape and history.

The doors of the Manila Hotel were first opened in 1912. It used to host the festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth government. But when the Japanese occupied the Philippines in the 1940s, the hotel became the headquarters of the Imperial Army. When the time of the Liberation came, Manila was bombed by the Americans in order to attack the Japanese forces seeking refuge in the capital. It was a miracle that this hotel survived this bombing and was later rebuilt in its finest stature.

Up to the present time, it holds important political events and inaugurations of notable people in the Philippines. Foreign leaders and Heads of State like Prince Charles stayed in this hotel, as well as entertainers Sammy Davis Jr. and The Beatles. It had also been a home to authors Ernest Hemingway and James Michener, Time publisher Henry Luce, and actors John Wayne and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Among the notable personalities that stayed in this hotel, there is one that truly made a mark: Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who played an important role in liberating the Philippines from the Japanese invasion. General MacArthur stayed in the hotel for a time before the War broke in the 1940s. The same room that Gen. MacArthur stayed in was preserved until now in its original condition. This room was even named after the brave general who became dear to the Filipinos’ hearts.

The hotel’s major renovation and reconstruction was done during the time of the Marcos dictatorship. It was reopened in 1977 with an even grander and more glamorous appeal. This time can be considered the hotel’s peak of glory. It was during this era when the Manila Hotel won many international awards and gain recognitions from all around the globe.

If Manila Hotel could only tell stories of what it had been through for the past century, publishers will surely not ran out of books to publish. But even without speaking, the architecture, the style and the design of the Manila Hotel could already testify to what it had experienced. And as a symbol of Philippine culture at its finest, Manila Hotel will never cease to tell its stories to the coming generations.