Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Sigh. I fell off my brain diet yesterday and gave in to the temptation of reading the salacious Philippine media once again. Just yesterday, while walking past a newsstand, my eye happened to catch a headline: Piatco sold to the Manila Hotel - see related story in Forbes - and I just had to stop and read it all. And although I should be elated by news that things are inching towards finally resolving the scandal which has delayed the opening of our mothballed international airport, instead I am only bothered and bewildered. Because if the Manila Hotel itself is any measure of what to expect, then were in for a pretty horrific ride. This grand edifice, once listed one of the ten best hotels in the world in the 1980s, has now been reduced to being a dormitory for Taiwanese budget tourists and a mere function room for Manila's political class and their wannabes since its takeover by the group. It's gardens have been uprooted, its facade defaced, and it's antique furniture, personally chosen by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin and internationally acclaimed interior designer Dale Keller, thrown away. The Manila Hotel now suffers from chronic ugliness and amateurishness; a shining testament to the delusion of it's owner, "Don" Emilio Yap (chairman of the strangely resilient, but fading, Philippine Trust Co. and Manila Bulletin Newspaper). And this does not bode well for any of the Manila Hotel Groups new acquisitions. Much less an airport, which relies on professionalism, good service, and beauty to project a safe and favorable impression upon travellers and first-time visitors to the country. And although Don's employees have only nice things to say about him (willingly or not), and no substantial information exists (yet) to sully his reputation, The Don can only be found guilty of vanity and having bad taste. And sadly, unlike tax evasion, these are not criminal offenses.
Photo of soldier guarding the unused Ninoy Aquino International Airport 3: Thank you Albert Garcia of Manila Times
Added note: One really wonders where the Manila Hotel will get the money to pay the rest of the balance to Fraport (only U$50 million out of the U$230million cost was given). Lord knows the Philtrust Group is going broke or at least the condition of all of it's assets give off that impression.