Judge William Howard Taft issued of the first decrees of the Second Philippine Commission to create an urban plan for Manila. Architect and the city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham drafted a wide and long tree-lined boulevard that would begin at the park and at the spit’s end of the bay, a boulevard that would be dominated on one end by a hotel.
William Parsons was appointed to continue where Burnham left off. He supervised the design and construction of Manila Hotel and was completed four years later. Soon, a magnificent, white, green-tile-roofed California Missionary-styled edifice emerged housing 149 spacious ang high- ceiling rooms. Since then, it is a hotel that commands the best westward view of Manila’s fabled sunset, the fortress of Corregidor, the poignant ruins of the medieval fortress that was Intramuros, and the palm-lined promenades of Luneta Park.
On the commemoration date of the American Independence, Manila Hotel was inaugurated and officially opened. With the hotel garbed in full regalia, four hundred handsomely groomed and elegantly attired guests were ushered in for a dinner of American roast, Philippine lobster, and French Champagne.
Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon invited General Douglas MacArthur to build the Philippine army in 1935, Gen MacArthur responded to the request of his long confidant and sailed back to the Philippines. During his tenure as the Military advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines, Gen. MacArthur, his wife Jean and son Arthur made Manila Hotel their home.
Quick fact: To handle the cost of MacArthur’s suite, he was given the honorary title of “General Manager”. He attended the monthly meetings. He, however, ignored the figurehead status and instead took control of hotel management. MacArthur’s favorite food at the hotel was lapu-lapu, a grouper fish native to the Philippines, wrapped in banana leaves.
The political party of Ferdinand E. Marcos held its convention there before the February presidential election, and Corazon C. Aquino delivered a speech at the hotel that was a turning point in the campaign.
In the last two decades, Mr. Marcos’s wife, Imelda, could frequently be seen at the hotel. When she visited restaurants there, a red carpet and garlands were put out and the air was sprayed with deodorant to help freshen the air so that a nice scent will linger in the area while she is around.
– Excerpt from article ‘Hotel With a History, MacArthur to Marcos’ published by the NY Times (July 8, 1986)