Although the Coconut Palace is now the official residence of the vice president of Philippines it was actually built to accommodate the Pope John Paul II during his 1981 visit to the country. Its construction was ordered by the well-known former First Lady, Imelda Marcos. However, the pope refused to stay in the palace because he believed that the money spent on it could have been put to better use. Also called Tahanang Pilipino or Filipino Home by the locals, the palace was designed by renowned local architect Francisco Manosa. The grand palace has an octagonal shape, which is the shape coconuts are usually cut into before being served in Philippines. The roof was built to resemble the roofs seen in a traditional Filipino hut or salakot.
Various types of hardwood sourced locally as well as different parts of the coconut tree were used to construct the palace. Parts of the tree used as building material included flowers, trunks, coconut shells and bark. Some of the more noteworthy structures inside the building were constructed using coconut shells; a chandelier made using around one hundred coconut shells and a dining table which is composed of around 40,000 coconut shell fragments.
The palace contains seven guest rooms that are named after various provinces. This includes the Pampanga Room, which contains statues made out of mud taken from Mount Pinatubo; the Mountain Province Room which contains artefacts from the tribes of Cordillera; and the Bicol Room which is considered to be Imelda Marcos’ favourite. Except for some renovations in 2010 the structure remains relatively unchanged since it was built.
The palace is located at the Cultural Centre of Philippines in the town of Pasay situated to the south of Manila. The site is open between Tuesdays and Fridays from 10.30 am to 3 pm. For those touring Manila, visiting the Coconut Palace is considered a ‘must do’ activity. Travellers looking for a good place to stay in Philippines should consider Manila serviced apartments. A good Manila apartment, such as Ascott Makati, offers the comfort and privacy of a home along with the facilities found in a luxurious hotel including modern comforts.