A magnificent work commissioned by then First Lady Imelda Marcos and designed by architect Francisco Mañosa is the Coconut Palace found in the CCP Complex in Pasay City, Metro Manila which was both praised and criticized to be ostentatious (or of a display that is tawdry or vulgar).
The Coconut Palace, known in Filipino as “Tahanang Filipino” (literally Filipino Home) was intended to house Pope John Paul II’s (deceased) visit to the Philippines in 1981. Because of the poverty of the country during that time, the Pope rejected the offer to stay in the flamboyant house made of roughly 70% chemically treated coconut products including lumber, roots, trunk, bark, fruit, flower and shell.
According to the architect, the P37,000,000 (about $10,000,000 during that time) worth Coconut Palace, built in 1978 was planned prior to the Pope’s plan to visit the Philippines. A showpiece on the versatility of the coconut and its viability as an export, the Coconut Palace is made from several types of Philippine hardwood including “tugas” and “balayong”, coconut shells, and the “Imelda Madera”, a specially engineered and chemically treated coconut lumber used as the solid foundation of the building.
In the ground floor, an ornately designed 24-seat table, with 40,000 tiny pieces of inlaid coconut shells, inside the splendid dining room is one of the main attractions together with the library where the Marcos’ (Ferdinand – Farther, Imelda – Mother, Imee – Daughter, Bongbong – Son) used as study area.
Each of the seven suite in the second floor are named after the different (and random provinces) in the Philippines. It’s only seven because it was considered as the family’s lucky number.
Coconut Palace Rooms
1. Zamboanga Room
This is where George Hamilton, Imelda Marcos’ favorite actor, stayed during his visit to the Philippines. There are a few rumors that Imelda and Hamilton had a secret relationship but no one can share it in details. This is the first room.
2. Pampanga Room
The notable part of this room is the overlaying bedsheet made of Jusi Fibre or fibre from the banana tree.
3. Marawi Room
Representing Muslim Mindanao, this room is adorned in the colors purple and green, the official color of these people.
4. Bicol Room
This room faces Manila Bay and one can experience the best sunset here. This was Imelda Marcos’ favorite room. Noteworthy are the beautifully hexagonal-shaped table.
5. Mountain Province Room
A picturesque, historical treasure room filled with traditional Ifugao tribal artifacts.
6. Iloilo Room
This is where Brooke Shields stayed during her visit to the Philippines. It showcases Iloilo’s best handicrafts.
7. Pangasinan Room
This is Ferdinand Marcos’ room. They have a separate room with Imelda, probably for security reasons. It has a large bathroom and a nice, remarkable bedspread made of Pineapple fibres or Pina fibres.
The Coconut Palace is shaped like an octagon while the roof is designed like a Filipino salakot or hat. Another notable highlight is the 101 coconut shell chandelier and another notable guest is Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. Now, it is a museum, with a butterfly garden and an orchidarium.
On the fifth season of the Amazing Race, a reality TV show, the Coconut Palace was used as pit stop when the competing teams went to Manila. They were welcomed by Luli Arroyo, the daughter of, then President Gloria Arroyo. The palace also served as the principal location for “Tanging Yaman”, an ABS-CBN primetime TV series in replacement for Malacañang as the residence of the First Family.
Averaging 50-100 tourists on a normal day, the Coconut Palace has an entrance fee of P100 which includes the well-versed tourist guide. Picture taking in the ground floor is fine but on the second floor it is strictly prohibited to preserve the ambiance and uniqueness of the rooms by avoiding massive publications.
The Coconut Palace is sometimes booked for weddings and party venues by those who want a unique and peaceful environment. If you have enough money and you want to please your soon-to-be-wife on your wedding day, just prepare P100,000 (for every 5 hours) as your venue rental fee.
Celebrating coconut as the “Tree of Life”, the Coconut Palace is considered by many as one of the most striking structures, for its interiors and architecture, in the CCP Complex. It is located Eduardo A. Makabenta, Sr. Street nearby Philippines International Convention Center, Folk Arts Theater and Sofitel Philippine Plaza. It is 600 meters west of Star City Philippines and 800 meters southwest of the Manila Yacht Club.
The Coconut Palace is open every Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. For advance booking and more information about Coconut Palace, you may contact them at telephone number (+63)(2) 831-1756 and (+63)(2)832-1898 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.