Established in 1966 and envisioned to be the center of arts of culture in the Philippines, the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex houses some of the country’s most recognizable brutalist edifices designed by renowned architects Leandro Locsin, Francisco Mañosa–both National Artists–and Froilan Hong.
1. Tanghalang Pambansa (National Theater, Theater of Performing Arts)
Arguably one of the most recognized Marcos-era structures, the Tanghalang Pambansa was designed by National Artist for Architecture, Leandro V. Locsin. The construction for this brutalist edifice started in 1966 with Alfredo Juinio serving as the building’s structural engineer and DM Consunji as the builder.
And while it’s known today as Tanghalang Pambansa, it was first called the Theater of Performing Arts when it was inaugurated on September 8, 1969.
Since its inception, this architectural landmark has housed four theaters which were named after some of the country’s most recognized composers, poets, and playwrights–Nicanor Abelardo, Aurelio Tolentino, Huseng Batute, and Manuel Conde. And aside from the four theaters, the building also has three exhibit halls and another three hallways (used for displaying artwork), a library, as well as the administrative offices of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
2. Sofitel Philippine Plaza
Built in 1976 to house the delegates for the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, it has since been rebranded several times over the years. From Hotel Philippine Plaza to The Westin Philippine Plaza to it current name, Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
This Locsin-designed hotel has hosted notable guests over the years including Brunei Royalty Mohamed Bolkiah, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Tony Blair.
3. Coconut Palace
Designed by renowned Filipino architect and National Artist, Francisco Mañosa, the Coconut Palace was built at the cost of Php 37 Million which was partly funded by the controversial coconut levy fund. Some of the materials used for its construction include several types of hardwood including tugas, narra, balayong, and the Imelda Madera, or Imelda wood–a specially engineered and chemically treated coconut lumber used as the solid foundation of the building.
Now owned by the Government Service Insurance System, it briefly served as the official residence of the Office of the Vice President during the term of Jejomar Binay.
4. Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas (Folk Arts Theater)
Another brutalist, Locsin-designed edifice in this list is Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas (formerly Folk Arts Theater). Completed in just 77 days in time for the country’s hosting of the Miss Universe 1974 pageant its seating capacity is said to reach as high as 8,500.
In its heyday, the theater was the top choice for local and visiting international acts to hold their concerts. While it certainly is a far cry from what it used to be, it now serves as the headquarters of the Day by Day Christian Ministries while the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) also maintains an office within its premises.
5. The Manila Film Center
Designed by Architect Froilan Hong, the design of this infamous edifice was inspired by the famous Greek Parthenon. During its construction, a scaffolding collapsed–trapping over 160 workers under a quick-drying cement. While the official tally of those who perished remains to be disputed, it is estimated that at least 30 to as high as 100 lost their lives that day.
Just in time for its completion, it hosted the country’s first international film festival that was envisioned to rival that of Cannes and Venice.
Over the years, however, the building fell into disrepair starting from the 1990 earthquake that struck Manila and the rest of Luzon. During the time of former Senate President Franklin Drilon, the Philippine Senate considered relocating to the Film Center but the plan was later shelved.
6. Philippine International Convention Center
Having made history as the first international convention center in Asia–-the Philippine International Convention Center completes the trifecta of Locsin-designed brutalist edifices within the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex.
Comprised of five building modules, it was inaugurated in September 5, 1976 in time to host the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. It also features a sculpture garden launched by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to commemorate the country’s hosting of the 1996 APEC Summit.
The Manila Project
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