Recently I’ve seen posts on my Facebook site “Manila Nostalgia” that have truly disturbed me. It appears that another landmark icon, the Army Navy Club is being torn down – following a continuing trend that, if continued, will eventually obliterate all evidence of the glory of Manila’s past. I asked myself why ? Even as the ANC was designated as an historic site, decisions were made apparently behind the scenes and the demolishers are working feverishly to wipe these buildings from our collective memories. What’s next ? The Manila Hotel ?
Check out this article and it will make your blood boil:
In my article, I pay tribute to one of the oldest buildings from the American colonial period with the hope that by documenting it, we will somehow keep its spirit alive.
The Army Navy Club (ANC)
Social clubs were almost all there was in Manila for entertainment, dining, and even lodging when the Americans arrived in 1898. It’s not quite documented exactly when the ANC was founded although there is mention of an Army Navy club in Manila as early as 1898 but definitely by 1899, a club was located on the corner of Bagumbayan (P.Burgos) and Nozaleda (General Luna) where it remained for another year and a half. It was furnished quite nicely with a bar (of course), dining room, billiard and poolroom.
In mid-1900, the club was moved back to Intramuros into a large one-story building taking up a full block at Potenciano and Palacio streets – directly across the San Augustine church (photo below). It featured a large courtyard filled with trees, coconut palms, tropical plants and even orchids. The clubhouse had a bar, separate men’s and women’s dining rooms, pool and billiard room and several bedrooms for guests. It was primarily a men’s club for the military but it quickly grew popular and became the social center for the American expats longing for a touch of “home”. Even more significant, the ANC was used by the civilian Insular authorities for entertaining both foreign and American dignitaries.
It was about this time that the waterfront around the Luneta was filled in according to the Burnham plan, being called the Luneta extension. This left an excellent location for a site for the club because the new facilities could include tennis courts and even a dock to accommodate offloading Navy shipmen. Another attraction was the offer of the Municipal Board to exempt tax payments for several years. It was, as they say, a “no-brainer” ! The Luneta is shown below prior to the land fill (looking south).
In 1904 and 1905 Daniel Burnham completed his renewal plan for Manila (& Baguio) for the Philippine Commission. It would extend about one thousand feet into Manila Bay, allowing for beautiful public playgrounds and picnic grounds, flanked on either side by impressive governmental buildings. The extension aimed to form a natural starting point for a 250 foot-wide continuous bay-front boulevard for infinite views of the ocean and sky. Renaming the existing Cavite Boulevard to Dewey Boulevard to honor American naval admiral George Dewey, this 12 mile stretch was intended to contain driveways, parkways, and perhaps even a bridle path for horse carriages. His plan included the Burnham Green (below) which provided more space for the Manila Hotel , the Elks Club, and the Army Navy Club.
In the meantime at the ANC, plans were drawn up, funds were raised, and a design by William Parsons was selected. At a cost of about ₱300,000 and covering an area of 135,500 square feet, the building followed an “H” pattern with two wings and a center building. It was built to be practically fireproof, with pillars and partition walls of reinforced concrete, ceilings of steel or concrete, and floors of tile except in the dining rooms and sleeping rooms.
On December 29, 1908, the City of Manila sold to the Army and Navy Club 12,665.46 sq.meters for ₱4.04/sq.meter. Even as the new landfill settled, construction started and took most of 1909 through 1911 and on April 17, 1911 a grand parade comprised of politicos, ANC members, Manila policemen, old soldiers, and a large contingent of the U.S. Navy, led by the 20th Infantry band, marched from the old club to its new digs in the Luneta. Members were asked to tote memorabilia from the old club to the new.
Marching to the tune of “Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here”, and “There’ll be a Hot Time in the old Town Tonight”, and other popular airs, the column swung down Palacio, out Bagumbayan, along the Luneta, and in front of the Elk’s Club, marching around the driveway to the tune of “How Dry I Am”. To the tune of “Dixie”, the members finally marched into their new home, giving three cheers and seeking much-needed refreshment after the hike.[source: Army and Navy Club, Lewis Gleeck, Jr.]
Befitting an inauguration of royalty, the buildings were lit by a mass of electric lights. The reception took place at 10pm with Gen. Bell and Col. Lauchhieimer, President of the Club, receiving guests. After the reception, the guests filled the corridors…flashing with myriads of electric lights and decorated with flag and palms. The guests danced away the evening with music provided by the 20th Infantry band.
Alas, the euphoria of the new quarters faded as antagonism grew between civilians and military with the arrival of newly appointed Governor F.B.Harrison, who perceived a feeling of anti-Filipinism that unfortunately continued up through the start of WWII. Even the wives and children exhibited an air of elitism.
Senator Bingham of Hawaii criticized what he called “white snobbishness all over the Orient” as he related to his racially-mixed constituents that he was “the only American government representative who had refused to enter the doors of the ANC” after he learned that Filipino leaders such as Quezon and Osmeña would not be present. [source: 75 Years: Army Navy Club, Lewis Gleeck, Jr.]
As WWI commenced, many of the American military were transferred to the European theater of operations which greatly reduced the social activities at the club. I have to add that this air of discrimination was not peculiar to the ANC. It was evident in other clubs such as the University Club, the Manila Polo Club, the Manila Hotel and even at cabarets such as John Canson’s Santa Ana Cabaret.
By 1921, with the return of the military as well as the U.S. Asiatic Fleet in Manila Bay, the club grew to be the largest in the city with 735 members. The Twenties marked an increase in social activities at the ANC. The reception room with a distinctively Oriental flair was the most beautiful room at the club and a source of pride, especially for the women members.
Membership was extended to all officers of the U.S. Armed forces both active and retired, to service nurses, and “to a carefully screened group of American business and professional men residing in the Philippines. Restricted membership was allowed certain foreign officials. Honorary memberships were extended to the American High Commissioner and the President of the Philippines”.
The tea room is reserved daily to the ladies who gather there to rest or play bridge between five and seven in the afternoon. The dancing pavilion is also most attractive: from 7:30 to 8:30 a concert of classical music is rendered by Harry Langum’s orchestra, and beginning at 9:00 the members are entertained with the most recent and popular dance music from the States. [source: 75 Years – Army and Navy Club, Lewis Gleeck, Jr.]
Carl Ingman Aslakson served in the Coast and Geodetic Survey for thirty-two years, from 1923 until 1955. He documented his travels throughout the world. “We arrived in Manila on January 5, 1928, our trip aboard the PRESIDENT HARRISON having lasted thirty-two days. Marian and I were able to get a room in the Army Navy Annex, a building not far from the Army and Navy Club, where we took all our meals. It was a very beautiful club. An Englishman who was returning to India, was so struck by it that he kept repeating, “My word! Finest Army and Navy Club in the world!” That was the ultimate compliment, for the English take great pride in their clubs. The meals at the Army and Navy Club were excellent and reasonable. One of the waiters at the table we occupied was kind to Marian. Whether or not they were on the menu, he would sometimes whisper to her, “Missy I got chickie livers for you,” he knew she was fond of chicken livers.”
Manila was probably one of the best assignments for the military in the Thirties because of the friendly and hospitable atmosphere of the Filipinos combined with the excellent facilities at Subic Bay, Sangley Point and especially the Army Navy Club.
On the second and third floors there were seventy furnished rooms with a wash basin and running water; shared showers down the hall, cots were available for ₱2.00 a night. The bar was in the left wing and across the bar was a mens’ dining room with a barber shop and shoeshine stand at the end of the corridor. Free peanuts, crackers and cheese spread with a free lunch in the afternoon was available at the bar. Favorite drinks were San Miguel beer on tap served in frosted beer mugs and bar Scotch. Oh yes, this was truly a choice assignment.
The Army and Navy Club had a large veranda on the second floor on one side which had a long line of bunks side by side the length of the veranda. This was known as “drunks row”. We still had prohibition in the United States and when a transport came in there was sure to be many of the new arrivals who would imbibe too freely. Fellow officers would haul them up to “drunks row” and let them sleep it off. In the morning fifteen to twenty officers would wake up on those bunks.[source: Carl Aslakson: NOAA History]
The main dining room was in the east wing and served officers only. The pavilion, which faced Manila Bay, also served dinners to the officers, ladies and guests and where the dance orchestra entertained until after midnight.
Of course, the annual Army-Navy football game was one of the most attended events of the year although in Manila, the game went underway at about 3:00AM the following morning. Most members came in the early evening and prepared to spend the night. A large game board marked off like a football field was set up on the back lawn. “The game was received play by play via radio telegraph. The best radio technicians and equipment available were on hand. After receipt of each play, the ball was moved on the board and the details of the play announced. The Club and grounds were packed; service bands were present; the Army had their mule – there was no lack of cheering sections.” [source: 75 Years: Army Navy Club, Lewis Gleeck, Jr.]
As the war in Europe raged on, inevitably dragging the United States into conflict and Japan increasing their hold in China, the Navy started evacuating all dependents in November 1940; the Army followed suit and by February 1941, the evacuation was complete, leaving only American civilians in Manila. Social activities naturally drew down.
The attack of Pearl Harbor and the ensuing bombing of Manila and military targets, the ANC basement was turned into a bomb shelter for both day and night accommodation. The band in the pavilion had long ceased to play; the dance floor stacked with officers’ trunks and belongings. Fortunatelyl, the club was spared by bombs even as they were dropped on nearby buildings in the port area. Many of the dying and wounded from the Naval Yard in Cavite were brought to the ANC.
“That afternoon and night tested the talent, fortitude, and patience of our Club employees, for they assisted wholeheartedly at the Club landing in the task of unloading boats of burned and butchered human flesh, which gave horrible evidence of the intensity of the raging inferno that had been Navy Yard in Cavite.” – Capt. T.C.Parker, Naval Attache to the U.S. High Commissioner
Air raids continued until December 26th when Manila was declared an Open City however that didn’t stop the Japanese to continue their bombing forays until they marched into Manila on January 2nd, 1942. The next day, the Red Sun flew over the Army and Navy Club.
“Early in the morning of January 2, the Japanese entered Manila. They came up the boulevards in the predawn glow from the bay, riding in bicycles and on tiny motorcycles, their little flags with the one red ball looking like children’s pennants. They came without talk and in good order, the ridiculous pop-popping of their one-cylinder cycles sounding loud in the silent city.” [source: More Than Meets the Eye, Carl Mydans]
After the surrender, there were parades in Manila in front of MacArthur’s old quarters at the Manila Hotel to celebrate the Japanese victory. While tens of thousands of POWs were marched to Camp O’Donnell under horrendous conditions, the senior Japanese officers were toasted at dinner in the old American Army-Navy Club.
The Americans returned to Manila in February 1945. They were met with much resistance, fighting their way often times door-to-door to vanquish the Japanese. It is reported that during the Battle of Manila, the two club buildings were garrisoned by Rear Admiral Iwabuchi’s Headquarters Sector Unit and the Manila Naval Defense Force commander apparently used the Army-Navy Club as his command post for some time. Using land mines and flaming barrels of oil, the Japanese defenders burnt out the building and destroyed the roof and pavilion along with one wall of the swimming pool.
The Army and Sea Bees (Engineering Corps) patched up the building which was partially completed by December 1, 1945, just in time for the Club to reopen and broadcast the Army-Navy game. Setting the right priorities was important !
The photo below shows President Osmeña at the formal club’s opening on December 2, 1945.
In the next several years, the ANC suffered a decline. After the war, the military were demobilized and sent home substantially reducing the club’s revenue, the club employees were unhappy as the staff were dismissed due to the declining membership, plus there continued an air of discrimination against Filipinos. The Philippines Free Press reported in November 1946 that parking space in front of the club was labeled “for American citizens only.”
It was truly a low point for the ANC. The general consensus was that the club had outlived its usefulness and should be sold; suggested buyers included the U.S. State Department, the City of Manila or the owners of the Jai Alai. Well, we know what happened to the Jai Alai so that would have been a poor choice.
Somehow a triumvirate of Admiral Morrill, Col. Evans, and Lou Wagner’s civilian group managed to save the club from dissolution. It was at that time the decision was made to “civilianize” the club. Thus the recruiting of civilians started in earnest, regardless of the previous military experience which had been a criteria in the past.
Newland “Ned” Baldwin took over as Club President in 1952 with a new direction. The Club would offer the same kind of family club environment as the pre-war club but with a greatly expanded civilianized and Filipinized membership. By 1955, ANC membership was roughly 27% U.S. military, 44% American civilians, 15% Filipinos and 11% other nationalities.
One important aspect to improve the Club’s finances was a contract signed with the Manila Theater Guild for the use of the large ballroom as a theater.
The MTG had its origins in the pre-war Community Players and had previously staged their plays at the Masonic Temple. In 1951, it accepted an invitation from the ANC to build a stage at the south end of the club ballroom. This arrangement worked out so well for both sides that in 1953, a new agreement was reached between the parties for a five-year rental, with an option to extend for five more years. A non-profit group, actors and actresses received no pay and most props and settings were donated by firms – local and multinationals in the name of art and culture.
The Guild put on 5 to 6 plays a year and was so enthusiastically supported that its budget was consistently in surplus. This meant that its stage equipment was more sophisticated than that of the typical community group and the shows qualified as professional, though nobody was paid for services. Tickets were ₱5.00 ($2.50) each and every night was usually sold out. The Guild supplemented ticket income with sales of advertising in programs. Elaborate publicity photos were placed in Manila’s four English-language newspapers.
“Dave Harvey” McTurk, shown below, was a guiding force at the Guild as well as its Publicity Chairman. He had been an entertainer in Shanghai in 1939 and left when the Japanese invaded that city only to be interned later by the Japanese at Santo Tomas during the occupation. He died in Manila in 1972 at the age of 67.
Directors came from among the volunteer actors but occasionally they would invite established drama directors from the state university and from exclusive Catholic schools in Greater Manila. Among them were Bert Avellana who was himself a star actor in the Ateneo prewar stage before he became a well known film director; Sarah K. Joaquin drama director of the Far Eastern University who also directed many of the Spanish plays of the MTG, for there were many Spanish-speaking expatriates who craved for the distinctive Spanish type of plays that leaned more on the humorous side. [source: Philippine News]
Director Bill Kane on the left with Gertrude Stewart who was renown as a cook, author, and entrepreneur in Manila.
“Lots of American school kids were involved in the theatre. I spent many hours down at the theater located on the backside of the Army and Navy Club. The theatre guild was a big part of the social scene in the 1950’s and 60’s for Americans. It seemed like every week there were rehearsals going on for a new upcoming play. Ronny James was in a ton of plays, (our step mother Marcia Westly said he was the best kid actor she had ever worked with) his parents acted there as well, along with Tony Rittenhouse’s folks, Bill Hiller’s folks, and of course Davy Harvey. Other notables, if I remember, Harry Stonehill, and Harry Reasoner who went on to fame as a news reporter for ABC Nightly News. My mom was his love interest in a play.” [source: Brad Nuber, American School alumni]
In the mid-Fifties, under the management of Arno Duchstein, the Club began to evolve from a men’s service club to family oriented activities. The club became once again so successful that prospective members were placed on a waiting list of several months and the membership also changed in composition, including over 40 nationalities.
“The club today is an interesting place for the student of foreign languages. One member who speaks several languages told us that one afternoon around the swimming pool she heard twelve languages spoken. English is still the predominant language with German coming second. Of the thousand active members, six hundred are Americans.” [source 75 Years: The Army Navy Club, Lewis Gleeck, Jr.]
Continuing along the direction of a family-oriented club, the game room was transformed into a teen room. The kiddies’ Easter Egg Hunt was so popular, it had to be limited to members’ children only. The Spring Festival of 1961 featuring swimming, tennis, and a ball was so successful that it was repeated in 1962 and 1963. The highlight was an outdoor fashion show.
Filipino membership in the club increased during the late Fifties and early Sixties as American membership declined and by the Seventies, the club had been converted from the original American service club to a Filipino club, now admitting members of the Philippine Armed Forces to regular membership.
Alas, the popularity of the club continued to dwindle as U.S. Embassy and military personnel now frequented the facilities and Post Exchange at the new SeaFront located at the former Manila Polo Club site in Pasay. Also, more and more members were relocating towards the new business centers and residential areas in Makati, closer to the Polo Club in Forbes Park.
The annual New Year’s Eve party was always well attended – an event everyone looked forward to.
“The parties were held in the ballroom which was packed with tables, people, noise, streamers and a live band. Tickets were sold – and I cannot tell you about that because, naturally, my date would get stuck with that chore. Girls were always in dresses made or bought just for that night and the men wore white dinner jackets. The idea was to be there, come hell or high water, for the countdown to midnight. The lights would be dimmed or maybe even turned off, the band would play “Auld Lang Syne and there would be the occasional flash of camera bulbs to illuminate the darkness and then a roar of “Happy New Year!!! “The lights would suddenly come back on, and hopefully you would in the arms of your date when they did!
For years, everybody one knew could be expected to be there for at least part of the evening. And then the next day or so, an assortment of embarrassing candid photos would be posted in the front office just in case you wanted to memorialize the moment! It was an enormous free for all!”[ Patricia Harrington Ottiger]
Ah, the memories this club evokes. It is not just the building, the pool, the patio nor the tennis courts; people lived here, spent the better part of their lives in Manila and clubs such as these. It is truly a sad thing to realize that another icon will be gone soon. Please allow me to share some of the comments from members of my Facebook Manila Nostalgia site:
“Anybody remembers pianist Lydia Encarnacion who regularly played there in the 50s?” [Elmer Panis]
“Do you remember the lifeguard Pete San Pedro and the doorman with that old microphone to page your driver?” [Ricky Soler Jr.]
“The swimming instructor who was an institution at the A&N was Fedy (not Freddy) Cruz!! he was much older than Rene (Amabuyok). The life guard and diving instructor was Ping”. [Laura Fisher Alvarez]
“I remember waiting for friends to sail in from the Manila Yacht Club, and enjoying the fantastic “Pepitos” [Steak pieces on Pan De Sal], that came only from the Swimming Pool Area kitchenette, watching the Ferry Boats from Sangley come in and the fantastic Manila Bay Sunsets from the pool area, memories, memories, just beautiful and great memories !!!!” [Ramon Faustman]
“And the Best German Potato salad, Chicken Salad, Bean Navy Soup, Sandwiches, Roast Beef, food was delicious! And…they even had the cleanest, best hair salon ever with facials, massages, waxing, everything a woman needed available, all materials used where grade A and towels and staff were very hygienic!” [Claire Gonzalez Virata]
“A real treat indeed, spent many merienda times there in the 70’s by the poolside and dining hall, stuffing our hungry stomachs with burgers/fries/hotdogs/club sandwiches after school in nearby Letran. Just signed our bill and off we go……thanks papa.”[Bids Legaspi]
“I was just going through some of my things and uncovered the program for The Manila Theatre Guild production of William Inge’s BUS STOP. My family (Doris, Floyd, Ron(nie) and Leslie James) were dubbed the Barrymore Family of Manila. We were in many MTG plays (all put on at The Army Navy Club.) The production staff for Bus Stop included, among many others, Edwina Litwin (Properties), Zita Litwin (Wardrobe), Grant Cameron (Program Editor). Over MANY years so many of us had such wonderful, fun times which makes for delicious memories! It still boggles my mind that this play was put on almost 54 years ago! [Leslie James]
Written in May, 1941 at the Army Navy club after a farewell party for their wives and children by then Col. Brougher promoted to General during the defense of Bataan. [source: Federico Baldassarre]
This place is doomed. Termites boring in;
A rift appears! I shall no longer stay
For I am old and have no single strength
To pit against the thing that’s sure to come.
A glorious buenvenida may be held
One glad uncertain day, but some of us
Who love this grand old Club will not be here.
The whistle blows! I must be going now.
Farewell, old Army and Navy Club, farewell!
Perhaps you knew
The Despedida to our ladies
Was our Despedida too.
The city finally took over the property in the early 1980s and for a while it housed the city architect’s office until the crumbling building forced its occupants out. Afterward, the once-grand structure was used as a manufacturing place for the city’s Christmas lanterns. The building decayed further, nearly to the point of no return. Then the city took action. It was resurrected as the Museo de Manila, but after a grand opening, it quickly closed its doors.
It lasted over a hundred years but in the end, we can only blame ourselves. There was no effort to revitalize that structure nor rebuild those crumbling walls. Now those walls are down and we cry with self pity but as Carole King wrote, “It’s too late baby !” Let’s try to save some of the other buildings in our beautiful city before it’s too late for them too. For now, we still have our memories.
As always dear readers, I would love to hear from you. You are welcome to share your memories and photos. My email is: ManilaNostalgia@gmail.com
My maiden name was Goldman. My parents, Ed and Lore Goldman met on a tennis court at the Army Navy Club in 1937. My mother and her family has escaped from Germany and landed in Manilla. My father was in the film business, doing distribution for Columbia Pictures in the Far East. They were married in 1938 and my brother was born in 1939. My father was one of the “Lost Tribe of the Philippines”, having been interned during the war in a Japanese concentration camp. After the war – I was born. We stayed in Manilla until 1953, when my father was relocated to Japan. My Aunt and cousins, the Kaufmanns, stayed in Manilla until 1957, when they came to the United States so my cousins could attend American universities. I have many photos of my parents partying it up at the Army Navy Club. It was their second home.
Excellent article Lou. My family were member from 1963 to 1976. I have many fond memories of the old ANC. I had a birthday party there when I was 10 years old, I believe. I would spend afternoons in the library and Saturdays at the pool. The old MTG was one of the first venues that kindled my interest in theater and acting. I had the good fortune to have watched Dave Harvey on stage as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.” My father introduced me to Charles Lindhberg, who used to stay there on visits in the ’70’s. Your article was well researched and well illustrated!
I have been posting about this destruction of ANC as early as June when I was barred by security guard from taking photos of the place. Maybe I should have made my noise a little louder.
I dont think the NHCP is cleanhanded behind the demolition.
So nice to hear more on MANILA NOSTALGIA, Lou… this long awaited continuation of your well-researched masterpieces. Please never stop ! Don’t we all love old photos. Truly nostalgic, Lou, as you even included picture #30 of “The Silver Whistle” Manila Theatre Guilds play starring Luisa Lichauco, seated on the far left of the photo. Lui was my sister Soly’s best friend, before Soly passed away in 1964. “Miss Lichauco” was our American History teacher in Maryknoll. Lui later became a Maryknoll nun, Sister Marisa Lichauco, also a foundress of House Without Steps, or something like Bahay Walang Hagdanan for the poor and disabled. Yes, so sad to hear that the historical Army & Navy Club is being demolished for yet another high-rise condo, hotel or casino – a tall, multi-storied structure on soft, reclaimed land !!! What are they thinking?
Thank you for another great article Lou. It’s true to a certain extent that we have only ourselves to blame, but there are factors that is just far beyond our means and influence too. The Army Navy Club was my second home for many years, from the early seventies into the early nineties. A great number of my lifelong friends I met at the club, and who can forget the club employees who were like a second family to many of us? “Missy, I got chickie livers for you.” evokes memories of the waiters of my time at Army Navy who often made an extra effort. I remember their faces to this day, and some, in spite of my poor memory, their names too. Boni, Bote, Atido.. And there were the locker attendants, the ballboys, the staff from the poolside and tennis courts, the lifeguards, the telephone operators in the old style manually operated interchange, the librarian, the doorman looking smart in his doublebreasted tunic, the bartenders and even the barbers in the barbershop at the end of the long hallway lined with crests from ships of the 7th Fleet. I remember the notices that were painstakingly hand painted from a time before computer printers came into being. Looking at the photos above, does anyone recall a Mr. Howie? He looks like the fellow wearing glasses in the rightmost corner of the photo of the Men’s Bar. A meal at the Crimson Room always made one feel special, and there’s the swordfish on the wall of the Anchor Bar where children were not allowed, but wherein one could sneak into via a “secret passage” beneath the stage in the Pavilion. The Army Navy Club held some of the most cherished memories of my childhood, its library, once known as one of Manila’s most extensive, is where I donated many of my books too, in the mistaken notion that the club would last forever. Alas, nothing does, for some things are really much bigger than we are. And often, we learn to let go, painful as it is, as there really is no other choice. But thank you for the memories, for nothing short of death or impairment can take that away from us. And thank you Lou, for documenting them for us.
Great article Lou. Still cannot believe that they basically just demolished the old place. They had the best calamansit juice.
YES! The calamansi juice was my favorite in all of Manila. But I also remember the hamburgers at the pool. It was my weekend treat to go to the club and have a burger. My dad was an officer in the CG and he was stationed at Sangley Point. We went many weekends to Manila to the ANC and I will never forget it.
As usual, another wonderful article. I think I enjoyed it more than others because of the personal connection. I read it twice on on two different days to make sure I digested as much as possible and will probably read it a few more times over the next fee weeks.
You helped fill in some things I never even thought about. I didn’t know it as non-military when most of us went there. My stepfather was considered “military” because he was the one working under a military contract at his US engineering firm and so we had military base privileges.
And now I also know why we stopped going to ANC and started going to Seafront. Which I also thought was “military.”
My family were never members of the ANC while it was still around and thus I never got to enter its premises but I’ve always admired its beautiful buildings from afar. Even though I never got to savor the benefits of its membership, as a Filipino, I was still proud of it being present in the city I love. I join all of you here who are saddened by its impending demise. Though it’s physicall gone, it lives on in our collective memory.
My mother told me that , at least during the 60s and 70s the upstairs rooms were run by the YMCA.
Best New Year’s Eve parties! Happy memories.
I went to school with your brother(?), Tony Fructuoso.
Please send him my best regards and well wishes.
I am writing a book about a father and son killed in World War II. From 1939 to 1941, the family lived in Manila at 1237 M.H. del Pilar in an apartment building. I believe their apartment overlooked the Military Plaza.
I am looking for incidental information about the neighborhood during this time and about the general lives of U.S. Army families, including a teenage son.
Also, the father was an officer whose office was in Fort Santiago. How would an officer typically get from his home on M.H. del Pilar to Fort Santiago? Trolley? Drive? Walk?
Many thanks for any and all information.
Another excellent piece of research and writing Lou..Many Thanks for memories brought back to life for former ANC members .Ahhh! the Men”s Bar a very special place to enjoy lunch with FNCB colleagues, complemented by a glass of cold SMB served at the large round tables on the veranda; a cooling breeze coming from the green lawns between the Club and the Manila Hotel. Sad to see the Club’s forlorn skeleton as it now stands naked.Best Regards Bob Blume/Villa Escudero
My late father, Ed Bryan was a life member as was his father before him. I always looked forward to lunch and then the pool, or tennis. Mother and Father attended the New Years party many, many times. I have a picture somewhere of my parents and George and Gene Evans having a grand time at a ’50s New Years party. Thank you Lou Gopal for bringing back such fond memories!
Hi, I am Michelle Duchstein from Germany. My Grandfather was Arno Duchstein.
He told us a lot of stories about his time at the Hotel.
Thank you for this artikel.
Hi Michelle; I just read your note re your grandfather.
Your grandmother (we called her Tita Carmen) was a close friend of the family.
When I was in college, I tutored both Duchstein boys (Arno and Paul).
Which one is your father?
Hi Ana Maria,
My father was Arno :-)))
Hello – Michelle.
The Duchsteins were our neighbors at Dakota apartments in Manila. I played with Socorro and Paul almost every day. How are they?
Michelle–I lived in Manila in 1967 and met your dad..We spent a lot of time together, sometimes at the Club, where his father was manager. I also met his mom and sister Socorro..Arno introduced me to sailing and took me for trips on the “West Wind” on which he was a crew member.I still sail, on the San Francisco Bay. I recall at that time he wanted to be a Naval Architect..
I returned to US after that, married and had 2 kids and moved to California where I became an attorney. I am mostly retired now. I would love to hear from you..By the way, my middle name is Michele….
I have enjoyed reading every one of your articles on Manila Nostalgia Lou! Having lived there from 1950 to 1966 I still feel a strong affinity to Manila and the Phillipines! I have so many wonderful memories of my years there and many of them were created at the Army and Navy Club. I learned to swim there from Feddy, my family spent many weekends there enjoying all of it’s amenities and my Mom was a very active member of the MTG. She designed many of the costumes for their plays including Beckett, Dial M for Murder and many others. She also did the make up for many of their productions. Mom got me involved in several plays including playing Horace III int ” The Remarkable Mr. Penny packer and several rolls over the years in ” A Christmas Carol”.
I wish that I could have sent you some of the pictures, programs etc., that my parents had however, sadly they have deteriorated over the years.
Thank you for another wonderful article that helped me relive some of the happiest memories of my years in the P.I.! My one dream is to be able to return there once before my time in this life is over.
All my best,
I happen to live right across the boulevard and all that’s left of this remarkable building is the outermost structure. It appears to have been gutted out. My dad has told me stories of how his father would take him and his brothers there to go swimming back in the day. Wish I could’ve seen it back in it’s hey-days!
Also, I’m using your website as reference for my report on Old Manila for my English class. Thank you so much for this excellent article! Will definitely be reading up on the rest of the articles as well – there’s still so much to learn about my beloved city!
Another great piece Lou. Very sad indeed. I can never forget the ambiance and being a part of history when I would go there. The Beatles did their first interview there. And of course the sumptuous breakfast after lounging by the pool and looking at the beautiful ladies.
My father was a member of the ANC (we are from India). This is because we resided in Manila from 1961 and only left in 1990. I was born in 1961.
My sister and I have fond memories of the ANC – swimming on Saturdays, the club sandwiches near the pool, the library where we had borrowed so many books. When I turned 18, I remember once in a way, we also went for the sandwich lunch at the Anchor Bar. Before I left Manila, I also had my residence for a couple of months in one of the residential rooms above. By that time, unfortunately the building had started to deteriorate and the management quite poor. Still, I spent the fortune and became a member. I then left for India permanently and until a few years back I was shocked that it was no longer there……..
Update: The Club has now been renovated into a beatiful 5-star hotel (The Rizal Park Hotel). In 2018 , for memories sake, stayed there for 2 days … was great reliving what it probably looked like in the 60s. BTW – its totally modernized with rooms having airconditioning etc…. But still was great staying there.
The swimming pool has disappeard and now the pool is on the roof in the main building….
The ANC was one of a kind. It possessed a somewhat anachronistic and faded but cozy glory even in the late 50s when I began going for swimming lessons with Freddy Cruz, holding onto his outstretched arms with other kids as he back-pedaled through the shallow end. The pool always seemed to have cracks and missing pieces of mortar or cement. The reading room was serene, and even as a kid I enjoyed going through newspapers and magazines from all over. My father and I got our haircuts downstairs, and I remember the pungent after-cut eau de cologne (for lack of a better description) the barber slapped on. The circular driveway leading up to the entrance was narrow and surrounded by thick vegetation, as I recall. You could see often see Corregidor from the ocean side of the pool deck as well, and some of the sunsets were spectacular. Oh yes, the footwash pool going into the men’s locker room never seemed really clean, and I remember stepping over it to avoid it. The little things. Thanks again, Lou.
Fond memories of many years at the Army Navy Club during the 60s! Great to see pics of Arno Duchstein and Gertrude Stewart (spent many nights at her place with her son, Alan). Thanks for posting this.
Today I came across your blog for the first time. What a wonderful discovery – only sorry I hadn’t found it sooner. I was in the class of ’65 (American School, Makati). I left Manila the same year when my father was transferred to Kuala Lumpur, but once you’ve lived in the Philippines you’ll always carry it in your heart. Your research and documentation are treasures.
My family belonged to the Army Navy Club. I took swimming lessons from Feddi, had my hair done – and first manicure! – in the salon. I remember the library. And the gift shop. Lena was one of the ladies who worked there and we have pictures taken of her and my sister on the front steps. Sitting by the pool looking out over Manila Bay with the sunburns to prove it. It was beautiful and gracious and seemed so much a part of Manila. I am so sad to know that it is gone. But thank you for capturing the history so eloquently.
Susan’s comment just popped into my inbox this morning and I just wanted to add another comment, Lou. Your capturing so much of the history of Manila is wonderful. We lived in the Philippines for just four years, yet it remains so much a part of our lives with beautiful memories.
I knew Nacho Marti and Yan and Mitch Schlachterman – old photos of them resurfaced when I moved recently. Does anyone know how they are and where they are? In a letter I received from Nacho he mentioned his plans to go to Australia.
Judy–I believe I met Nacho when I was in Manila in 1967. He was a friend of Arno’s (jr) . I went sailing with them both….Long time ago, but I am still a sailor, living in California. i know Arno went to Australia, married and then moved to Germany. Don’t know what became of Nacho. Jane
I have been sucked in and been reading your blog all day. To see Manila in its heyday is amazing. But I think it is time to do a quick update to Army Navy Club page. What remains is currently being restored as a boutique hotel. I have been watching the work every day for two years happy to see that the building and property will be getting new life. I only hope the new tenants do justice to the historical significance. Cheers!
Since I don’t live in Manila, I wonder if you might take pictures of the new construction and I’ll add it to my article ?
I loved your article Lou! You said it so well. All the memories of the fun I had at the Army Navy Club, came flooding back! I remember Easter Egg hunts, sans rival, steak sandwiches, and their calamansi juice! I stumbled across your article because I was looking for calamansi recipes!!!! Lo and behold, I see responses from my older sister and classmates! And Lou, weren’t you on the running team too?
I thoroughly enjoyed the tribute your article made to the memory of the ANC. I will miss it too.
Great article, had many fond memories at the Army and Navy club in the 70s growing up in the Philippines. The huge vanilla milkshakes and burgers where amazing by the pools restaurant.
Hello Lou, just found your blog looking around the internet to know something about the ANC so sad to hear such news but your blog is fantastic and brought so many memories…. I was born at the Manila Singian clinic in 1959 and lived in san marcelino st until 1972 when we came to Spain. Both my parents were born in the Philippines to Basque inmigrants I studied in the Assumption Convent . Another building that diesnt wxistanymore. Feddy was my swimming instructor and whenever someone comments on how well I swim I always think “thanks to Feddy. Does have anybody know he had an extensive old car collection? I think I have a picture of him with one of those cars from the 20’s. The Easter egg hunts, calamanco juice and french fries were simply the best. Multinational members and lots of languages is afine description. My first 3 year old friends in the army & navies sandbox were french ,Italian and English. So glad to have found your wonderfull blog. LauraFisher, how’s your sister Eluzabeth? I’m Roberto’s sister. Hello Ramon. Are the Clair Virata from my class at assumption? Thanks Lou.
Hola Margarita! This is the first time I’ve seen your comment here! I’m so glad we were able to connect on Facebook, if not through this article in Manila Nostalgia, then through other means!
Reading Lou’s descriptions of the club brought back so many memories and of course memories of all the friends I played with at the club including your brother Roberto! Easter egg hunts, swimming lessons, of course, with Freddi Cruz, the library and the ladies restroom/lounge with all the mirrors! Hide and seek especially backstage at the theatre and in the unlit dressing rooms!
And yes, Freddi did have some old cars, we used to be allowed to sit in the luggage part of an old Ford riding around the Rizal Pool parking lot!
I got to play tennis later on in the 70s and won some matches there! We had moved from Makati to Pasay City and so frequented the ANC more than the Polo Club my last 2 years in the Philippines.
Thanks for remembering my family and me….we all remember you and yours!
PS thanks Lou for such wonderful reading! I think I also saw my sister, Estelle, as a young 8 or 9 year old sitting, watching the fashion show! Both Estelle and I were also participants of the fashion show as little girls!
That is my sister sitting there and I just noticed I’m sitting next to her, to her left, watching the fashion show! What fun to see this!
Thank you so much for these photos.
My family were members of the Army Navy Club from 1956 to 1968
I learned to swim and play tennis there.
My father was an American GI during world war 2.
My mother was Filipina (mestiza) and they married just after the war.
I remember the boat launch to Sangley point that left from the pier next to the club each day. My mom would always want to go shop at the BX there.
This is so sad. I spent my childhood through teen years in the Army Navy Club. As you climb the steps in the front entrance, a doorman dressed smartly with buttons on his uniform greeted you. You stepped inside and to your right was a sweet-smelling shop filled with American chocolates and magazines. I used to buy Chunky chocolate there and just sign for it. You go down the hallway that had old pictures of the ANC on both walls. To the left is the Sunset Lounge. To the right is the Ladies Lounge, Library and McArthur Room. You go down the steps to the tennis courts and a little to the left is an open garden. Up the steps is the swimming pool and outdoor restaurant. I remember everything– the Pavilion, the Anchor Bar (though I never stepped in there since I was only a kid). I remember the nice old smell of the building and the piped in big band music that always played in the speakers. There were two formal air-conditioned dining rooms too.
In 1974 a small group of students at the Naval War College in Newport RI were waiting for our instructor to appear. Retired Adm. Eccles was usually punctual but we were fine with the delay as we were having an animated discussion about Herman Wouk’s new WWII novel “The Winds of War.” The admiral strolled into the class and we clammed up presuming that he would not approve of naval officers wasting their time reading novels. He starred at us over his reading glasses and said, “Great book. Wouk does his research…every detail is correct. Remember the scene when the bombing of Pearl Harbor came over the radio at the bar in the Army Navy Club in Manila? Every detail was authentic. I know because I was present.”
It was restored. It turn out to be Rizal Park Hotel now.
The Rizal Park Hotel (formerly the Manila Army and Navy Club) is a 110-room, historic five-star hotel and casino located along Manila Bay in Manila, Philippines. The hotel, which opened on 26 July 2017, occupies the Manila Army and Navy Club building following its redevelopment in 2014 by hotel developer Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corporation. Prior to the building’s redevelopment, the building once served as the City Architect’s Office and then as the Museo ng Maynila (Museum of Manila) before being abandoned for several years. <<<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizal_Park_Hotel
Joined the ANC in 1978. Took up residence 2nd floor corner room overlooking Manila Bay, tennis courts and Manila Hotel. Lived there for a year attending AIM Graduate School in Makati after separation from the Navy. Best of all times, now lost to history. Easy times by the bay sipping San Miguel or Calimanci with Ana & Heinz Brodheim, Bob F., Jon Van Aller, Carmen and all the ex-pats. On Easter, the sun set behind the Cross on top of Mt. Samat some 50 km across Manila Bay. The building was alive in Memories. Staff members had heart. The sad truth to the Club’s ruin lies in the fact members failed to pay their dues.
I auditioned for a role in a production in the early 70s of the Manila Theatre Guild at the Army Navy Club, steeled myself, read some lines, and sang as well. I must have rained out the better judgment of the audition judges. I thought they didn’t know talent when they saw one. I was about to exit when the door opened and suddenly I was face to face with someone familiar. In a soft voice, he asked, “Dito ang audition?” He was already doing radio and TV shows at the time. Later he became a showbiz matinee idol, appeared in movies, and did 45 rpm records. It might be contentious to say he and I had the same face, but for sure in that audition at the Club, we had the same fate. He was Rodel Naval.
ACEY DUCY PLAQUES
I was in the hotel several times from 1968-1973 while on cruises to Vietnam (VF-143).
Does anyone remember there being plaques on the wall of the bar with the names of Acey-Ducy winners/losers? I’m fairly sure they had American names up until 1941, Japanese names from 1942-1945, and then American names again.
We’re Chinese-Filipinos, and my father was a member through the late 1970s. I remember my 2 sisters and I spending hours at the library reading, hours at the playground playing (anyone remember the little “kubo” playhouse?), hours at the pool swimming, enjoying the most perfect hamburgers and hotdogs poolside. It was the only place I ever recall our parents leaving us children free for an entire day to do as we wished, with hardly any oversight. I guess that’s how safe ANC was, with the ever present, kind, and attentive staff. I’ve completely forgotten about this place until I stumbled on this website. I live in the USA now, but remember ANC as some of the best days of my childhood.
I just found this site. My late father, Cdr. Wilfredo Diño Viray, was President of ANC Manila around 1979-1981. He served 2 terms. My father graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1956. My siblings and I have so many happy memories going to the club on weekends. My parents hosted the New Year’s Eve balls at the ballroom there. We remember the weekend barbecues at the lawn, the Easter Egg hunts, swimming and playing tennis, and so many events under my father’s management. My father welcomed many non-military guests. My father passed away in 1982. We still did go to the club for the annual West Point-Annapolis alumni reunions after his passing. So many wonderful childhood memories that live on in us, his children, even after all these years, and living abroad.
Hello Lou Gopal,
Greetings from So. Cal.
My family spent over 20 years in the Philippines and so I was doing a random search on the web a saw a pix of my Father, John Yench among his fellow Thespians.
I cannot wait to tell my brothers, Jack & Chaz of this find. Many, many familiar names and places.
I will reach out again.
If you respond, please use my AOL Email address:
Thanks for facilitating this on behalf of all of us.
Wow, I Just stumbled on this article. My dad was stationed at Sangley from 1950-51, and I lived near the ANC for a while until our on-base housing was available. I would go down to the quay and take an admirals barge to school every morning! Loved the ANC. It was like a palace to a 6-year-old. I had not heard it was torn down. I’m planning our 50th wedding anniversary next August and will be touring Manilla.