Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Thursday - November 29, 2007
In the early morning, I was in a queue at Manila's NAIA 2 airport for another necessary trip to Hong Kong.
The flight was expectedly late to depart - and arrived in HK just before lunch.
As I checked into a modest hotel room with wonderful goose down pillows, I started to link-up to the world by broadband ...

Omigoshhhhh - a military "rebellion" was taking place in Manila
The Peninsula Manila Hotel - whose lobby was one of my fave hang-outs , was under siege
Police and soldiers had the hotel surrounded
An ultimatum to a break-away "oppositionist" group led by a Senator, a 1-star general, and a former vice-president had been sent
This is the stuff of which Philippine political "tele-nobelas" are made

A few hours later the deadline had been breached
And ...
Wait, wait, wait - omigudnesss goshhhhhhhh
An armored personnel carrier (a tank to many of us) - started firing endless rounds into the lobby
Tear gas was fired in as well
And the "tank" started ramming into the doors and into the front wall of this pristine 5-star refuge in the middle of Metro Manila's financial district

Surreal ...
Within minutes, the rebels who had warned that they would die for their cause if need be, started complaining that the tear gas was hurting their eyes (huh??)
Then the "never surrender" heroes promptly surrendered ...
The tele-nobela was over - as quickly as it had started

And my favorite hotel?
It survived - but its wonderful lobby which had been converted into a war zone was ruined
The hotel was evacuated and closed for 3 days

By Monday it was ready to re-open
I arrived from HK the night before
As soon as I wrapped up the days work - I hied off to the Peninsula
In part for curiosity
In part to support my fave hotel's "re-opening"

I invited a few friends to the now "historic" lobby for a couple of drinks
The lobby had been restored with its 30+ foot Christmas tree as center piece
The glass doors were replaced temporarily by wooden board ups
Without the glass - there was an eerie feeling of confinement
Like walking into a giant cabinet and having the doors close behind you ...

Having overdosed on Chinese cuisine these past few weeks, I was hungry for anything Filipino
So it was good old "arroz caldo" for me ...
Hmmmmmmmm - arroz caldo, white wine and friends
In the lap of what was a firing range just a couple of days ago
In a historic hotel that once again made history !

Only in the Philippines .....

The Peninsula Manila Hotel
corner Ayala and Makati Avenues
City of Makati
Philippines 1200
(63-2) 887-2888


rita :) said...

"only in the philippines," is totally right!

we read that online from CNN. i know, finally, CNN has news, right? haha. anyhoo... hubby and i were cracking up on the news on how the senators just walked-out of the courtroom without getting stopped. how lame is that? what? the security just watched them leave and said,"oh, there goes the senators." and went on their merry way... doo-doo-doo-doo-doo... what the freak? yeah, ohmigudness, for sure. sheesh. there's always a drama, right?

i'm sorry they messed up your hang-out. i'd be peeved if that happens where i always hang-out. by the way, is that the same hotel where they have a string quartet playing at the lobby? or am i thinking of something else?

Daguldol Tarakatac III said...

Yes - that is the hotel.
A string quartet traditionally plays for the better part of the evening, from an overlooking location in the mezzanine.

And yes - Philippine politics has, for the better part of my lifetime, been a comedy.


rita :) said...

oh, man! yeah, i like that place, too. been there once and it is relaxing and nice to just hang-out at the lobby, listening to classical music and having some drinks. it's different. i think, i'll pay a visit again next year. and uhmm... look for you at the corner, drinking? hahaha!

Daguldol Tarakatac III said...

Ok ....
Hope you have a great time on your trip.

Yes - I will be in the corner, drinking ... and eating turtle soup :-)


Sidney said...

They serve "arroz caldo" in the Peninsula Manila Hotel?

Good you were in Hong Kong...imagine the police shooting bullets in the lobby while you are peacefully enjoying the wine and the cigars...

There are no more safe places in this world... :-(

Daguldol Tarakatac III said...

Yes Sid ...
They serve arroz caldo - and adobo and chicharong bulaklak.
It's a real find ...

Imagine being immersed in the heart of Makati's elitist zone with a glass of wine, little pinkie finger up in the air, stumbling over imperfected Taglish, and gorging over the totally pedestrian chicharong bulaklak complete with sawsawan na suka and sili.

A melting pot of cultures ...
Such is Manila