Once located at Plaza Calderon around the Binondo and La Insular Cigarette and Cigar Factory, Hotel de Oriente was considered one of the crown jewels of Binondo. It was part of the Provincia de Tondo (now Manila) and was declared one of its districts in 1859. It was a first- class hotel and most tourist tend to stay at this hotel. Also, many claimed that Hotel de Oriente was the first hotel in the islands.
Hotel de Oriente have been a topic of a lot of heritage enthusiast who like me still mourn the lost of this building. But the most detailed information about the hotel comes the website of Manila Nostalgia.
“The Hotel de Oriente was built in 1889 by Don Manuel Perez Marqueti, the father of Luis Perez Samanillo, owner of the Perez Samanillo building in Escolta. It was a first class hotel and at one time was the only one in the entire archipelago. Don Perez Marqueti selected the site in Binondo at the Plaza Calderon de la Barca (now Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz) next to the La Insular Cigarette and Cigar Factory. Its location was quite convenient, just a few blocks off the docks of the Pasig, next to the Chinese retail businesses and close to the busy Escolta shopping district, as well as the old walled city of Intramuros.”
“The Spanish architect Juan Jose Huervas y Arizmendi, who also designed the La Insular building, was commissioned to design the hotel at a cost of $100,000. It had three floors with 83 rooms, stables for 25 horses, an attic, and a broad entrance floored and roofed in red clay tiles on both floors and roofing. It was an elegant building with seven bays along its front. its construction was executed by Tomas de Guzman and Victorino Reyes.”
The hotel is also known for its most famous guest. In June 26, 1892, Jose Rizal arrived in the Philippines from Hong Kong on board the boat Don Juan. After having been inspected by the custom men, he went to the Oriente Hotel where he occupied room No. 22, facing the Binondo church.
His sister, Lucia, accompanied him in his return to the Philippines. Rizal began to establish daily conferences with the Spanish Governor General Despujol to lift the order of exile against his sisters. Based on supposed evidence of anti-friar bills found in sister Lucia’s baggage, Despujol later issued a decree on July 7, 1892, banishing Jose Rizal to Dapitan, Zamboanga.
Don Manuel Perez Marqueti passed away and his widow sold the hotel in 1899 for $160,000. Walter Fitton, an Australian speculator bought it in 1900 for $350,000. Fitton sold it to Sellner’s Manila Investment Co., which leased it to Ah Gong, a Chinese food and wine distributor.
Ah Gong was well-travelled and well known in Manila as a restauranteur, food purveyor, having a large store on Calle Echague. He was an ex-Navy man, spoke English fluently and was said to even own a large ranch in Nebraska.
Unfortunately, the Hotel finally meet its demise in during World War II where it was destroyed by the bombings and shelling.
Hotel de Oriente, Las Casas De Azucar
Mr. Jose Rizalino Azucar, a Filipino businessman, art collector and owner of Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar, was looking for the prefect addition to the resort as part of its continuous development. In 2013, the idea of bringing back the history and beauty of Hotel de Oriente came to life. Mr. Azucar wanted to develop the hotel’s replica based on old photos, showcase, its finery, and make it the site of future conventions, meetings, exhibits and shows at Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar.
“The replica in Las Casas was built in 2013 and was finished in time for the Bataan leg of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015. It has two large halls that can accommodate 1,000 persons and four function rooms named after locales of Old Manila—Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto), Avenida Rizal, Blumentritt and Sta. Cruz.”
“The skilled workers and laborers who built it were local natives; the wood mosaics and ceiling murals based on famous paintings, such as the Spoliarium of Juan Luna and the works of Carlos “Botong” Francisco, were made by unemployed women from Bagac and nearby towns; and the precisely detailed wood carvings in the walls, pillars, ceilings and even the exteriors were chiseled by anonymous artists from Paete, Laguna and Betis, Pampanga. It is home to Café Marivent (“mar” is Catalan for sea and “vent” is wind) that serves Filipino and Spanish cuisine.”
You can enter and tour the building in a separate charge than the tour of the other buildings. It costs 200 pesos per person ($4). I can tell you now that it is worth it, the detailed carvings of Philippine folklores is worth the price. Even though the interior change drastically from the original building the new Hotel de Oriente feature something new and refreshing. There is also another addition which is a balcony where you can see a view of the Las Casas and the mountains in the horizon. Also, there is another room where the tour guide will take you to have a closer look at the unfinished wood carvings for the hotel. Where there is also a collection of the hotel’s pictures and drawings. At the end you will not regret the additional charge because it is all worth it.
Credit to the following people and website