Even before the official announcement of the place being open to the public, we managed to visit for the first time recently the new official residence and office of the Vice President of the Philippines.
The new home of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is the luxurious Coconut Palace, a government-owned guesthouse which stands on a 2.7 hectare property located at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex right by the Manila Bay in Pasay City.
Renovation work was still ongoing when we visited the Palace last November 09, 2011. Still, one can feel the elegance of the place.
Estimated to be worth PhP1.2-billion, not counting the artwork and antique fixtures and furniture, the Coconut Palace has plush guestrooms where the Marcoses, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and showbiz stars like Brooke Shields and George Hamilton once slept.
The Coconut Palace was designed and built by architect Francisco Mañoza in 1978 upon being commissioned by then first lady Imelda Marcos for the Manila visit of the late Pope John Paul II in 1981. The Pope, however, declined the offer to stay in it which he found too ostentatious. Among others, it has a swimming pool with a panoramic view of the spectacular Manila Bay sunset.
Shaped like an octagon, the Palace prides itself in showcasing the creative use of coconut and its various by-products, as well as artwork that includes works by noted Filipino artists Araceli Dans and Napoleon Abueva, among others. Its bedrooms emulate traditional art and aesthetics of Filipino regions, with antique decor on the walls, tables and cabinets.
It was President Aquino himself who offered the Coconut Palace to Vice President Jejomar Binay to make it as the official and permanent residence and office of the Vice President of the Philippines. The OVP used to hold office at the PNB Financial Center building in Pasay City.
Today, this where the VP holds office, meets guests, conducts meetings and media conferences.
Just last week, VP Binay announced that the Coconut Palace is now open to local and foreign tourists, with pre-arranged daily tours like the one being held in the US White House.