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Imelda’s Nutty Nook

May 26, 2015
The Coconut Palace

You’ve got to hand it to Imelda Marcos – she certainly knows how to pull off unabashed ostentation with panache. Her fabled weakness for indulgence was not only restricted to fancy footwear, it would seem... A visit to Rizal Park’s lavish Coconut Palace will soon reveal a penchant for flamboyant architecture, too.

Commissioned by the former First Lady in 1978, the elaborate bayside mansion is made almost entirely out of materials derived from the coconut tree, and is, as the diva herself described it, entirely ‘Imeldific’. If you don’t believe us, consider this – the visiting Pope John Paul II (of course, it’s a fact well-known that many Catholics love a bit of bling) declined to stay in the residence, objecting to its overt decadence.

Today the Coconut Palace is part of the vast octagonal lodge housing the Vice President’s office, however, three quarters of the grounds and interior have been opened to the public.

While the kooky grandeur of the palace is evident at every turn (look up: a chandelier adorned with 101 pod husks, to your right: a 24-seat dining table inlaid with 40,000 polished shells), to fully appreciate its subtleties you’d best take the free tour. Here an expert will explain how coconut wood, leaves and fibres were transformed using traditional artisan techniques into intricately carved balustrades and decorative lattice trimmings.

You’ll also get to venture out onto the long verandas with views of the pool and Manila Bay, and even get the scoop on where George Hamilton bedded down during his call-ins. Coco loco!

Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex / Rizal Park / Pasay / +63 2 832 6791 / tours 9am, 10.30am & 2pm Tue-Thu, but prone to change so call ahead /