History and museums
The Coconut Palace, also known as Tahanang Pilipino (Filipino Home), is the official residence and the principal workplace of the Vice President of the Philippines, located on the campus of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, in Manila, Philippines.
It was commissioned in 1978 by former First Lady Imelda Marcos as a government guest house and offered to Pope John Paul II during the Papal visit to the Philippines in 1981 but the Pope refused to stay there because it was too opulent given the level of poverty in the Philippines. It cost 37 million Philippine pesos to build. It is owned by the government-owned and controlled corporation the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
The Coconut Palace is made of several types of Philippine hardwood, coconut shells, and a specially engineered coconut lumber apparently known as Imelda Madera. Each of the suites on the second floor is named after a specific region of the Philippines and displays some of the handicrafts these regions produce. The palace is located on F. Ma. Guerrero Street at the Cultural Center of the Philippines between the Folk Arts Theatre and the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. Before becoming the official residence of the Vice President, the palace was used for wedding receptions.
The palace is shaped like an octagon (the shape given to a coconut before being served), while the roof is shaped like a traditional Filipino salakot or hat. Some of its highlights are the 101 coconut-shell chandelier, and the dining table made of 40,000 tiny pieces of inlaid coconut shells. Highlighted as one of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ most striking structures for its architecture and interiors, the palace celebrates the coconut as the ultimate “Tree of Life”. From the coconut's roots to its trunk, bark, fruit, flower and shell, the palace's design, form and ornamentation echo these elements.
The Coconut Palace has been a guesthouse for many guests, including Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, Brooke Shields and George Hamilton.
The Coconut Palace has found itself being featured in various TV shows. On the fifth season of the reality series The Amazing Race, the Coconut Palace served as the pit stop when the competing teams went to Manila. The contestants were welcomed by Luli Arroyo, daughter of Former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Palace was made a primary filming location for the ABS-CBN television series Tanging Yaman, standing in for Malacañan Palace as the residence of the First Family.
The Coconut Palace underwent major renovations as it was being eyed as the official office and residence of the Vice President of the Philippines. On February 11, 2011, it was officially turned over to Vice President Jejomar Binay upon the signing of a lease contract with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) with a monthly rental fee of ₱400,000.
The palace has seven guest rooms named after Philippine provinces: