Imelda Marcos, the previous first lady of Philippines, commissioned the building of the Coconut Palace in honour of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1981. However as later revealed by Francisco Manosa – the architect of the palace – plans were in place much prior to the visit. On his visit the Pope declined staying at the building due to its extravagance when much of the Philippines was mired in dire poverty.
Celebrating the coconut tree as the ‘tree of life’, the Coconut Palace has been built to highlight the various and diverse uses of the tree and every single one of its aspects, from root, trunk, leaf, fruit to flower.
Built in 1978, the palace is made using coconut shells, Philippine hardwood, and a special lumber. The edifice is breathtaking in its use of coconut and local produce to effect a stunning outlook. The 101 chandeliers are made of coconut shells and the dining table consists of over 40,000 inlaid pieces of tiny coconut shells.
The upper floor suites are named after the Philippine provinces and incorporate each province’s local handicrafts. The venue used to be popular for private parties, weddings and other events. Prominent visitors to the country such as Muammar al-Gaddafi, George Hamilton and Brooke Shields were housed in the palace.
However in 2011 the octagon shaped palace was renovated in order to make it the official/ceremonial home of Philippines Vice President Jejomar Binay. Whilst the palace is still open for pre approved tour groups, events can no longer be held there for security and ease of access reasons.
As one of Philippines’ landmark destinations that truly inspire and wow travellers, the distinctive mansion is a must visit for all travellers to Manila. Located between the Folk Arts Theatre and Plaza on F. Ma Guerrero Street, the edifice is a convenient and central spot.