Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Manila's new gem

The Manila Grand Opera Hotel sits on the site of the former Manila Grand Opera House. The Opera House, now almost a forgotten landmark of the past, opened in 1900 featuring the Russian Circus Troupe. It had since hosted performances by world class artists such as prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, violinist Jascha Heifetz, and guitarist Andres Segovia. For most Filipinos though, the venue was known for staging zarzuelas and vaudeville starring such icons of Philippine showbiz like Atang de la Rama, Katy de la Cruz, Jovita Fuentes, Sylvia La Torre, Dolphy, Cachupoy, Bayani Casimiro, Diomedes Maturan, Pilita Corrales, and German Moreno. The opera house also staged plays written by such luminaries as Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero and Lamberto Avellana.

The Manila Grand Opera House also played a part in history, where William Howard Taft got an early endorsement for the US presidential election. In 1906, it was also where the First Philippine Assembly was inaugurated.

During World War II, like much of Old Manila, the original Opera House burned down. It was reconstructed, again becoming a favorite venue for vaudeville, and later on becoming a movie theatre. And then not long after that it was demolished, with it the memories of this important landmark.

Ok, so I nicked all the historical stuff from an old magazine (read the full background info HERE.) To cut the story short, the Manila Grand Opera House is now the Manila Grand Opera Hotel, which opened on August 30. The hotel has about 250 rooms, and they are a steal! My brother said they got rooms for P1,500.00 (less than $40) a night. (Well, my brother's wedding entourage was the first one ever hosted by the hotel, so I don't know if there were discounts involved). The lobby is very tastefully done, short of fabulous, with touches of pre-war Philippine art deco and Chinese patterns, appropriately reflecting the site's history and its proximity to Chinatown. The hotel coffee shop features huge photos of performers and visitors past, including those of Gloria Romero, Dely Atay-Atayan, Elizabeth Ramsey, Shirley Maclaine!, Pugo and Togo, and of course, Kuya Germs! Upstairs there's a branch of probably the country's most well-renowned Chinese restaurant, President.

The only downside is the location (pssst, it's connected to the Doroteo Jose station of the LRT). If you're coming by train, easy. If you're coming by car, tough! If you miss a turn, you'll be driving in circles just to reach it. And the Sta. Cruz area has long ceased to be Manila's place to be seen.

Hmmm...Maybe the Manila Grand Opera Hotel can help change that.

(Click any image to see more photos)

(Click any image to see more photos)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Masama Ugali ng mga may ari dito, sila amba cabangon chua at mga anak nya like edgard.
pag may topak nag aalis at nag tatanggal lang basta basta ng tao. dapat maipa labor mga yan kaso lang nga mga maimpluensya mga taong ito, siguradong pera lang ang pagagalawin tapos ang kaso. injustice ang mangyayari!!!!! blog owner please approved this so people may know what's happening internally specially how they treat their staff.