Coconut Palace

Notable Building in Manila

The Coconut Palace was one of Imelda Marcos' great white elephant projects in the 1970s. It was so named because of the extensive use of coconut building materials in its construction. Nowadays the palace is used mainly for official functions. It's managed by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS; www.gsis.gov.ph). Contact GSIS' Danny Martinez a few days in advance to schedule a free tour.

The Coconut Palace was unquestionably one of Imelda's wackiest schemes (and that's saying something). Hearing that Pope John Paul II was planning a visit to his flock in the Philippines, Imelda ordered that a grand palace be built. Huge teams of craftspeople laboured overtime to complete this edifice in time for the pontiff’s arrival. As Imelda readied herself to throw open the door to welcome the pope, she got stiffed. After sternly chastising that the US$37 million cost could have gone to better uses, such as clean water for the people, the pope went elsewhere.

Imelda eventually seized upon a couple of C-level celebrities for a gala opening: Brooke Shields and George Hamilton. As camp goes, you can’t do much better. It is rumoured that Brooke got pineapple-fibre sheets for her room, while the ever-tanned George snuggled into banana-fibre sheets.


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