From Opening Flair To Uncertain Future: The Saga of Folk Arts Theater


It is interesting to write about the Folk Arts Theater at this time in the midst of the preparations for the country’s 3rd stint to host the Miss Universe pageant that will happen on January 2017. That is because the Folk Arts Theater itself came into being because of the Miss Universe pageant, when the Philippines hosted it for the first time in 1974. Reportedly, then First Lady Imelda Marcos pushed hard for the country to host the pageant, especially after the country’s Miss Universe candidate, Margarita Moran, won the title in 1973, becoming the second Filipina Miss Universe after Gloria Diaz.

With the hosting secured, Mrs. Marcos had the idea of holding the pageant not at an existing venue like the Araneta Coliseum, but at a new one. For this project, she turned to Architect Leandro Locsin, who by then was already the most sought-after architect and country and also in the First Lady’s good graces for his work on the Cultural Center of the Philippines Theater. However, there was a problem: Locsin only had a short time to complete that dream venue with the pageant just a few months away. Nevertheless, Locsin was one who rises to any challenge and this was no exception. Continue reading


The Art Museum at the GSIS Financial Center

October happens to be “Museum and Galleries Month.” In commemoration of this occasion, the Urban Roamer decided to pay a visit to one of the city’s more overlooked museums. And that says something considering the situation here currently that museums here aren’t placed high in the must-visit list among locals.


Today, we visit the GSIS Financial Center in the reclaimed area that is part of the CCP Complex in Pasay City, headquarters of the Government Service Insurance System, (GSIS) the social insurance institution catering to government employees. The building is actually a Marcos-era structure that was completed in 1985, but it was not fully utilized until 9 years later, when the GSIS finally moved in to the building to be its new headquarters.


Continue reading


a Palace made of Coconuts…mostly

Palaces come in different shapes and sizes so to speak. Then there’s the Coconut Palace. And yes, it does it exist in case you haven’t heard of one yet.



The palace first sprang to life as a pet project of then First Lady Imelda Marcos who wanted to showcase homegrown Filipino architecture at its finest. To do the job, she commissioned an architect named Francisco Mañosa to make her dream into a reality. Work began in 1978 and would be finished just in time for the visit to Manila of the then leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II. Originally, the Coconut Palace was offered to be the guesthouse for the aforementioned pope, an offer which he would refuse. Eventually it did become a guesthouse for some visiting dignitaries like the Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, or Hollywood celebrity friends of Imelda like George Hamilton and Brooke Shields. Continue reading


The Cultural Center of a nation

On the occasion of the National Arts Month, I thought it would be fitting to close out this month with a little tribute to our country’s arts and cultural center: a landmark aptly titled the Cultural Center of the Philippines or the CCP.

Technically, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (in Filipino, Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas) or CCP refers to the body created in 1966 by virtue of Executive Order 30 as a “trust for..the Filipino people for…preserving and promoting Philippine culture.” But for many people, it will always be identified with its iconic building known formally as the Tanghalang Pambansa (known more as the CCP Main Building or the Theater for Performing Arts) along Roxas Boulevard which was completed 3 years later, on September 8, 1969.

the logo of the CCP formed by 3 K’s written in Baybayin script standing for katotohanan, (truth) kagandahan, (beauty) and kabutihan. (goodness)

It was a milestone for the brains behind the building of this edifice, then First Lady Imelda Marcos, who was able to realize her dream of a larger, grander venue for the Philippine arts that can meet the needs its predecessors the Manila Metropolitan Theater and the FEU Theater have failed to address. With the praise the newly-inaugurated CCP building was getting internationally, it was an encouragement of sorts for Imelda to continue realizing her dream of a “beautiful Philippines” through her innate “edifice complex,” as some call it. Continue reading