Army & Navy Club



Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.28.23 PM
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.


They will tear down this building!!!!
Beautiful main foyer


Army and Navy Club
The octagonal dome above the main foyer.


Main foyer
The main foyer/lobby had two grand staircases around it.


Above the main foyer
The second floor decaying balusters


It was leaking everywhere and it wasn't even raining
Leaking roof


Army and Navy Club
Old wall sconce


Army and Navy Club -- what used to be quarters of American military officers
Corner office. It used to be the quarters of American military officers.


I love these hanging lamps!


Spook fest at Army and Navy Club
During our shoot, my colleagues and I played spook-fest.


Second floor
More leaks and puddles inside. Why it was allowed to get this way, I will never understand.


"This building is DANGEROUS". Because they allowed it to be!
The only sign that said someone actually cared.


Spooky Army and Navy Club
One of the side stairwells where we shot my photo for People Asia.


Iron balusters.


Army and Navy Club of Manila
The list of members in brass plates.


By the 1970's select members of the Philippine military were invited to join Army and Navy Club
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.”)


Tatum and Sara Black
People Asia’s creative director Tatum Ancheta and photographer Sara Black.


Cover, People Asia, Oct 2006


Army Navy


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.



Leave a comment

  • dianakristina

    this post makes me feel sad and hopeful at the same time.

    • Anonymous


  • chester

    you can look for SAMOO NY architects for the plan.i dont know if Palafox will be the architect on records. they will incorporate the old facade to a highrise building. oceanview resorts is behind this. i believe it already approved. it will be a mix used area. mall. hotel. museum. apartments. etc

    • Anonymous

      Just saw their “proposal”. Looks so modern and generic.


      • chester

        apparently in light of recent news. i think they will not build the high rise. and simply restore it. in the news though. and it will be palafox for sure.

        • Anonymous

          I am disturbed by the lack of transparency. This building is of national significance, declared a landmark by the NHI. Shouldn’t there be some sort of public process?

  • Rohanie Rose Espena

    I was hoping for a restoration *sigh*. I wish the government would preserve this building because it is a part of our History. I haven’t seen this place in person, but looking at the photos, it’s such a classic place.

  • Roi Vera


  • 03godot .

    This is sad. I could not really understand why Manila cannot be made into a ‘living’ museum. A showcase city of our history, culture and arts. Why they are slowly destroying it and turning it into a modern city is completely beyond my comprehension. Manila is a small city surrounded by other cities that can easily be developed and modernized. The national government needs to pass a law protecting Manila and other similar cities that are both historic and historical. ASAP.

  • EG

    In Syd & Melb Australia, their heritage buildings are protected by laws. Even the declared heritage houses owned by private individuals need approval from the town/city council to get their interior renovated. Their exterior are never allowed to be renovated or modernised. I hope we have this kind of policy in the Philippines.

  • Jones Pi

    I’ve traveled to some parts of Europe, then I remember Manila,
    its architecture which resembles in countries like Italy, Spain,
    France etc. I feel really sad of our country… One example is this heritage
    building. This could be restored, likewise with the other buildings. We could
    have one tourist highlight in our country – Manila a Europe place in Asia! This
    would only happen if we could protect it, restore it & come up with a well-sound
    urban planning .

  • Anonymous

    Hi, there’s a post about army navy club in pia cayetano fb page… Here is the print screen. I just saw this at my wall and remembered your blog about army navy club

    I think the photo cant be posted here šŸ™

    • Anonymous

      Thanks. Yes, Ces Drilon used my site and photos as resource. Then a report on Pia came on the next day. Thanks.