Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Luneta Hotel

The Luneta Hotel (left), and the University Club and Apartments, later known as the Shellbourne Arms Hotel and Hotel Otani. ©

Twentieth century Manila is without a doubt the golden age of the great and mighty city of the Far East. During the course of the first half of the century, the city grew not just in size, but also in population and the abundance of various architectural styles that sprung throughout. From the last century's Spanish colonial and Iberian architecture, to the then-current American neo-classical and federal styles, Manila has or had them all. Sadly, the ravages of war obliterated this once magnificent and celebrated city. 

As the 'Pearl of the Orient', Manila had to deal with tourists from around the Far East, Europe, and the Americas. With the opening of Manila to ocean liners and the introduction of air travel through the trans-Pacific Clipper planes, hospitality services had to be built, one of these hotels was the Luneta Hotel.

Luneta Hotel in its early years. © Luneta Hotel

The Luneta Hotel, built in 1917 and completed in 1918, was designed by Spanish engineer Salvador Farre, in the French Renaissance style of architecture. Located in the residential section of Ermita at the corner of Calle San Luis (now T.M. Kalaw St.) and Calle Alhambra, the six-storey edifice facing the Rizal Park, is probably the only surviving example of the French renaissance style in the Philippines. 

Ermita, the district on where the Luneta Hotel stands, was inhabited by old bahay na bato and bodegas, as Ermita has not been developed into what it was in the 1920s up to the 1940s. Ermita was where splendid mansions were built for people of importance in Manila, if not, the whole Philippine society. 

The location of the Luneta Hotel ("x" mark), and its surrounding areas in the Ermita section of the city. © Flickr/John Tewell

As part of the American architect and city planner Daniel Burnham's vision for the Philippine capital, he suggested the building of hotels and apartments facing the new Rizal Park, which was t be lined up with trees and government buildings reminiscent of those in Washington D.C. and Paris. The Luneta Hotel boasts of having been built with ornate balconies and the French style mansard roof similar to those in post-Haussmann Paris. Because it was built in the French renaissance style with elements of art nouveau architecture, the Luneta Hotel features mythical elements such as the gargoyle-- which not only meant to serve as aesthetics, but also served to keep water away from the building.  

Interior of one of the sixty rooms of the Luneta Hotel. © Nostalgia

There were originally sixty (60) rooms in the Luneta Hotel, each with its own private bathrooms, and two (2) suites. All rooms have their own telephone service. Today, the sixty rooms of the Luneta Hotel have been decreased to twenty-seven (27) rooms. The hotel also had a restaurant and a coffee shop.

Gargoyles adorn the Luneta Hotel for both aesthetical and utilitarian purposes. © Flickr/Andre Cawagas

During its early years, the Luneta Hotel was favored by merchant marine sailors and officers when they were staying in Manila because of its proximity to the Manila Harbor. In 1937, the Luneta Hotel gained international prominence when the city hosted the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress as it housed delegates for the Congress.

A damaged Luneta Hotel (left), and a burned-out University Club Apartments (right), after the liberation of Manila in 1945. © Flickr/John Tewell

The liberation of 1945 took a toll on the Luneta Hotel. During the course of the war and occupation of the Philippines, the hotel housed non-commissioned officers of the United States Army, which assumingly, was a prison used by the Japanese Imperial Army. After the Second World War, the sparkle of the Luneta Hotel was not the same as it was before. 

In 1952, the Luneta Hotel was bought by a man only written in records as Lednicky from Agustín and Rosalia Farre, in turn, sold it to Toribio Teodoro, owner of the famed Ang Tibay shoes. During the Martial Law years, the Luneta Hotel was confiscated from its owners and was given to the Kapampangan jeweller Panlilio family into its control. Another story was that the Luneta Hotel was not ill-gotten and that Panlilio family had bought the hotel from H.E. Heacock Resources, successor to the H.E. Heacock Company. The Panlilio family have been in the hospitality business due to their ownership of several five-star hotels, resorts , and transporation throughout the Philippines, namely: the now-closed Grand Boulevard Hotel (formerly the Silahis International Hotel), Philippine Village Hotel, and Grand Air International.

In 1983, the Luneta Hotel was renovated and restored to bring back its former glory. After the famed People Power Revolution in 1986, the Luneta Hotel was sequestered from the Panlilio family by the Philippine government through the Presidential Commission on Good Government as it was believed that the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos owns the hotel, using the Panlilio family as a front. Since then, the Luneta Hotel closed its doors to the public and never to see its patrons again.

An abandoned Luneta Hotel in the hands of the Philippine government in the late 1980s. © Flickr/Elmar

In 2007, the Luneta Hotel was purchased by Beaumont Holdings, and declared that the hotel would be restored within three (3) years. In 2014, after almost seven (7) years, the Luneta Hotel was again reopened with a grand spectacle coming from heritage conservationists and locals alike.

During the re-opening of the Luneta Hotel in 2014. © Manila Coconuts

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Crystal Arcade

The Crystal Arcade during its heyday. © Arquitectura Manila Photo File

The Philippine capital of Manila was a city of high stature, comparable to those fine cities of the Occident such as Paris, London, and Madrid. The pre-war years have given Manila to acclaim itself as the 'Most Beautiful City in the Far East' whilst Manila's neighbors, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, were backwater outposts of their colonial masters. This is proven by the influx of European migrants and expatriates to the city in the first half of the 20th century. Germans, Spaniards, Americans, British, French, and Russians made Manila their home, at least, until the end of the Second World War. These migrants and expatriates mingled with the Philippine alta sociedad and had the city developed from a medieval Spanish city into a progressive capital of a semi-independent nation.

Shopping around the city is one of the best things to do in Manila. Long before the existence of modern Philippine shopping mall complexes such as Rustan's, Shoemart, Robinson's, and Ayala, the Crystal Arcade is considered the first shopping mall in the Philippines.

Façade of the Crystal Arcade. © Nostalgia

The Crystal Arcade was one of the most modern buildings located along the Escolta, the country's then premier business district. Built on the land owned by the Pardo de Tavera family, an illustrious Filipino family of Spanish and Poruguese lineage, the modern building was designed by the great Andrés Luna de San Pedro, a scion of the latter. The Crystal Arcade was designed in the art deco style, a style prevalent in the 1920s to the 1940s. It was to be one of Luna's masterpieces, with the building finish resembled that of a gleaming crystal. 

The conception of a construction of the Crystal Arcade started in the 1920s as a pet project of Luna. Luna wanted to have the same prestige in the arts and architecture like that of his father, the great revolutionary-painter Juan Luna Novicio. To make such thing possible, he infused the sleek and streamline art deco design with crytal-like glass in his design for the building. 

Andrés Luna de San Pedro (1887-1952) © Nostalgia

The Crystal Arcade was inaugurated in June of 1932, and was the first shopping establishment, or the first commercial establishment that was fully air-conditioned. Its interiors reminded the Philippine elite of the arcades that of Paris, with covered walkways, glass covered display windows and cafés and other specialty shops.

Crystal Arcade interior, adorned with a pair of grand staircases. © Manila Nostalgia/Carmelo Mosqueda 

Inside the Crystal Arcade, one can find the home of the first Manila Stock Exchange, the precursor to today's Philippine Stock Exchange.

 A typical trading day at the Manila Stock Exchange inside the Crystal Arcade. 

According to sources, the Crystal Arcade was used to be owned by its architect, the great Andrés Luna de San Pedro, probably due to the land being owned by his maternal family, the Pardo de Taveras, but was foreclosed by its creditor, the El Hogar Filipino, due to the financial situation that came about during the Wall Street crash and the Great Depression in the late 1920s to the early 1930s. The Crystal Arcade was also planned to have more floors but was eventually scrapped because of lack of funds. 

When the Crystal Arcade opened in 1932, it was the most elegant building in the area as it was constructed with glass which illuminates like crystal at night. Its interiors were also as elegant as the exterior, showing art deco lines and motifs. 

"The Arcade had a mezzanine on both sides of a central gallery that ran through the length of the building and expanded at the center to form a spacious lobby containing curved stairways. Stairs, balconies, columns and skylight combined to create vertical and horizontal movement, as well as a play of light and shadow in the interior. Art deco bays pierced by a vertical window marked each end of the façade and complemented the tower over the central lobby. Wrought-iron grilles and stucco ornaments were in the art deco style featuring geometric forms, stylized foliage, and diagonal lines and motifs." (excerpt from Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century: Colonial legacies, post-colonial trajectories)

Escolta in 1937. The Crystal Arcade is on the left of the photo. © Nostalgia

In 1941, the Second World War came to the Philippines only hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed. The capital city, Manila, was also bombed by the invading Japanese forces causing damage to the city. The following year, in January, triumphant Japanese forces entered the city despite of it being declared an open city. During the occupation years, the Crystal Arcade was home to Japanese occupation agencies such as the Japanese Government Railways and the Board of Tourist Industry. 

The year 1945, for those who lived in Japanese-occupied Manila, was probably the most traumatic and devastating year. In the months of February and March saw the most bitter fighting in all of the Pacific. Sixteen thousand (16,000) fanatical Imperial Japanese Navy soldiers fought American and Filipino forces to the last man, bringing with them about one hundred thousand (100,000) civilians massacred. The effect of this bitter fighting resulted in the near-total destruction of the City of Manila. More than eighty (80) percent of the city's structures were obliterated, many of them into extinction. The Crystal Arcade, located along the Escolta, was one of the casualties of war, Escolta being one of the areas of fierce combat.

A heavily damaged Crystal Arcade taken immediately after the liberation for Manila. © George Mountz Collection

Shelled-out interiors of the Crystal Arcade. © Nostalgia

Immediately after the liberation of Manila, businesses soon opened even its locations were in shambles. In the Crystal Arcade, businesses reopened and some new businesses found a home in the Crystal Arcade. Only the first floor was occupied with stores and the second floor being a bodega, or storage room of the tenants. Eventually, in the 1960s, the Crystal Arcade was demolished to pave way for the post-war revival of the Escolta. Its successor, the new Philippine National Bank Building, designed by Carlos Argüelles, replaced the Crystal Arcade, the Lyric Theater, and the Brias Roxas Building.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Heacock's Department Store

A typical scene outside Heacock's Department Store along the Escolta. © Manila Nostalgia/John Harper

Long before the existence of today's department stores such as Rustan's, Robinson's, and the ever-famous Shoemart, now known as SM, there were already department stores that were far more luxurious than that of today's. Manila, being the city that boasted numerous feats in architecture, also hosted and boasted the finest shops and stores in all of the Orient. One of these department stores was Heacock's, probably the most recognized and popular stores in the city back in the day.

Heacock's Department Store first became a jewelry store operating under the partnership name Heacock & Freer, two American brothers-in-law from San Francisco. H.E. Heacock, one of the partners, was a travelling salesman originally hailed from Salem, Ohio and first came to the Philippines in 1901 to open a branch of his jewelry store. After arriving in Manila, Heacock & Co. set up shop on the second floor of the McCullough Building at the foot of the Santa Cruz Bridge. Since then, Heacock & Co. became the best known American jewelry store in the city.

H.E. Heacock, one of the founders of H.E. Heacock & Company. © Filipinas Heritage Library

In 1909, the brothers-in-law Heacock and Freer sold the company to Samuel Francis Gaches, a young American entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist who arrived in Manila in the same year as Heacock, but the reason being is that Gaches worked for the American colonial civil service.

Samuel Francis Gaches, president of the H.E. Heacock & Company. © Filipinas Heritage Library

In the post-Gaches acquisition of the company, the year 1910, H.E. Heacock & Co. transferred its operations south, at an old building along the five-block Escolta. The old Escolta shop was renovated and had the most modern storefront in all of Manila with its products displayed in front, a first in the country. Eight years later, in 1918, Heacock's transferred its operations again due to the success of the department store. It moved one block east, along the Escolta corner Calle David. The new four-storey Heacock's Department Store was the most modern of its time. The department store was built on the lot of American businessman William J. Burke, the owner of the Burke Building on the Escolta.

The pre-1918 Heacock's Department Store along the Escolta. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

As the years progress, Heacock's grew larger in terms of popularity and in assets. The H.E. Heacock & Company opened branches in other parts of the Philippines such as in Baguio, Cebu, Davao, and Iloilo. Heacock's, being the country's largest department store back in the day, carried imported luxury goods from the Elgin Watch Company, which carried the brands Lord Elgin, Lady Elgin, and Elgin. Other brands include Remington Typewriters, Rogers Flatware, International Silver, and Frigidaire Refrigerators.

An ad from the Philippines Free Press dated December 1923 from Heacock's Department Store. © Manila Nostalgia/Aksyon Radio La Unión

The year 1929 saw the birth of a stronger and larger Heacock's Department Store. Gaches and the H.E. Heacock & Company started the construction of the one million peso (P1,000,000.00), eight-storey Federal style building on the corner of Calle Escolta and Calle David. The new Heacock Building was designed and constructed by the triumvirate of the Filipino architect Tomás Argüelles, the American W. James Odom, and the Spanish Insular Fernando de la Cantera. Opened a year later, the Heacock Building had the same features that of the old Insular Life Building at Plaza Moraga.

Construction of the new Heacock Building in 1929. © Nostalgia 

In an article of the American Chamber of Commerce Journal in 1930, the new million-peso Heacock Building was described as being one of the tallest in the city. The article also described the interior layout of the department store.

"The main entrance on the Escolta opens into Heacock’s proper, the jewelry store; then comes Denniston’s, the photographic department, with its valuable Eastman agency, and then the office equipment department. The jewelry store is L-shaped; one of the illustrations gives a good view of it.

In the new building the Heacock store occupies the main and mezzanine floors, both handsomely finished and artistically arranged. The second floor is also all occupied by the Heacock company; the offices are there, and the stock, accounting, mail order, wholesale and optical departments. Four rooms on the third floor are given over to stock and records; the other rooms of that floor are rented as offices, as are the rooms and suites of the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. These rooms, all of them desirable because of their location and the building they are in, offer great latitude of choice.

The seventh floor accommodates Heacock’s engraving and printing, watch-making, metal engraving, jewelry repairing and manufacturing departments; also the optical shop, Denniston’s photo laboratories, and stock of the office equipment department.

The basement, under the entire building, counts as the eighth floor. It is to accommodate automobiles during the day. Seventy-five cars will not crowd it; a wide ramp opens from Calle David, egress and ingress are safe and convenient. This public service in connection with the Heacock building will materially mitigate the downtown parking nuisance." (excerpt from the American Chamber of Commerce Journal)

The new million-peso, eight-storey Heacock Building. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes (Retrieved from Arquitectura Manila Photo File)

Interior of the Heacock Building on its opening in 1930. © Nostalgia

The triumvirate-designed edifice only lasted for seven years. In 1937, a powerful earthquake hit the Philippine capital which heavily damaged the Heacock Building. The building suffered irreparable damages which led to the demolition of the eight-storey building. Heacock's shut down its business and was quickly reorganized a month after the earthquake. 

The new edifice, also eight stories high, replaced the old demolished Heacock Building. The new building, built in the streamline art deco style, was designed also by Tomás Argüelles, but with Fernando H. Ocampo and the American George E. Koster.

The new H.E. Heacock & Company Building in 1940. © Manila Nostalgia/Dominic Galicia

The streamline art deco building had the latest in building technology, it had installed pneumatic tubes which could transport small parcels throughout the building without the need of a messenger. The building cost around P800,000.00, which is P200,000.00 cheaper than the triumvirate-designed Federal style building. 

The new H.E. Heacock Building (center) houses Heacock's Department Store and the ammunition storage of the Philippine Army. © LIFE via Nostalgia

The deadly Battle of Manila in 1945 greatly reduced the city into rubble. Escolta, home of the city's financial district, was obliterated by bombshells and gunfires. The Heacock Building was damaged but was reconstructed after the war. 

The war-torn H.E. Heacock Building, 1945. ©