I got this disturbing update from our friends in Coconuts Manila. What is happening to the Army and Navy Club building?
I have wonderful memories of this place. As any of the old members of the Army and Navy Club will remember, we used to swim, play tennis, attend parties here. My dad was a member and this was our weekend hangout. It was beautiful then. There was a formal dining room where I learned how to eat with multiple forks and knives. The waiters used to wear white jackets and white gloves. When I was a small girl, my dad would tell me that I would celebrate my 18th birthday at the ANC. Fancy. Grand. It never happened, of course. Because in life, not everything really goes as planned. We ended up staying in Canada for good.
When I came back to visit the Philippines, one of the places I had to see was the old Army and Navy Club. In the mid 90’s it was already starting to look decrepit. When I was a reporter for ABS CBN, I took special interest in this building and did a few reports about it. I recall back then that the City of Manila had declared it a condemned building. And despite that, it housed the Museum of Manila. In the early 2000’s there were plans of converting it into a restaurant/casino complex by the Estrada government. It was never really clear to me who had ownership of the building and why it was allowed to run itself to the ground.
In 2006, Janine Dario, former editor in chief of People magazine featured me for the antique jewellery that I was designing and reworking. I had requested that we do it on location at the Army & Navy Club so we could also channel some attention to preserving the building. A big surprise to me, my photo ended up being on the cover. The publisher, the late Max Soliven, chose to put me on the cover with the lines “Cultural Chic: Preserving Our Heritage in Style.”
Here are photos from that shoot at the Army and Navy Club in 2006.
My dad’s name was still on the board. (One of the Manila councillors asked me if I wanted to take it as a souvenir. I told him, “No thanks. It should remain in the building as part of its story. Please do not take it down.”)
If anyone has accurate information about what’s going on at the Army & Navy Club, please share the info in the comments section or send me a private message. I just want to know what’s going to happen to this beautiful building. Is this a restoration or demolition project?
EDIT: Apparently it’ll be turned into a boutique hotel.