Preserving Heritage, Embracing Hospitality: The Renaissance of The Laperal Mansion in Malacañang

April 1, 2024

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By 

Rick Formalejo

Nestled along the iconic Arlegui Street in Manila stands a silent witness to the passage of time and the unfolding of Philippine history—the Laperal Mansion. With its stately façade and intricate detailing, this 19th-century architectural gem serves as a testament to the enduring beauty of Philippine heritage.

A Journey Through Time

The story of the Laperal Mansion begins in the early 20th century when Doña Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez Viuda de Escaler acquired parcels of land along Arlegui Street in San Miguel, Manila. It wasn’t long before construction commenced on what would become a symbol of grandeur and opulence.

In April 1929, the property transitioned into the hands of Rafael Fernandez y Santos, who oversaw the construction of the mansion. Its magnificence didn’t go unnoticed, as evidenced by the prestigious award it received for being the most beautiful house in 1929.

However, the mansion’s journey took a turn when financial difficulties led to its transfer to Roberto Laperal and his wife, Victorina Guison de Laperal. Despite the challenges, the Laperals embraced the opportunity, eventually becoming the proud owners of this architectural masterpiece.

A Witness to History

Throughout its storied existence, the Laperal Mansion has played myriad roles in shaping Philippine history. From serving as the Consulate of the United States during World War II to housing the newly established Department of Foreign Affairs post-independence, its walls have echoed the footsteps of diplomats and dignitaries alike.

In 1955, the mansion found itself transformed yet again, this time into the home of knowledge as the National Library set up residence within its hallowed halls. Subsequent years saw it evolve into the nerve center of governance, housing the Program Implementation Agency of the Office of the President and later serving as the official residence of Presidents Corazon C. Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos.

A Presidential Guest House Reborn

Today, the Laperal Mansion stands as a beacon of diplomatic hospitality, meticulously restored by the Philippine government to serve as a Presidential Guest House. Its 14 bedrooms and 5 state rooms, each named after past presidents and historical figures, serve as a testament to the nation’s rich tapestry of leadership and legacy.

Designed by Filipino interior designers, these rooms artfully blend modern comfort with traditional craftsmanship, showcasing the essence of Filipino identity. From locally-sourced fabrics to artisan-made furniture, every detail reflects a commitment to sustainability and cultural preservation.

“It was very much of an honor for us to be asked. We were also thrilled because this is something that, you know, being in the profession, it’s something special because you get to share your talents for the [country],” IDr. Anton Barretto III, one of the designers of the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) room, shares as he became part of this project. 

“It’s a great project because it’s really for the dignitaries, for people who come from other countries, so they get to know about the Philippine culture, get to know about the presidents, and the history in general. It’s a good project to be a part of and it’s nice that they highlight local talent,” adds Arthur Tselishchev who also worked on the room named after former President GMA.

A Showcase of Presidential Suites

The ground floor of the Laperal Mansion boasts an array of meticulously designed suites, each paying homage to a different Philippine president. From President Diosdado Macapagal’s room, adorned with handmade wallpaper featuring palay motifs, to President Carlos P. Garcia’s suite, adorned with accents symbolizing his Filipino First Policy program, each room tells a unique story of leadership and legacy.

President Elpidio Quirino Suite
President Elpidio Quirino Suite
President Elpidio Quirino Suite
President Elpidio Quirino Suite
President Elpidio Quirino Suite
President Elpidio Quirino Suite
President Elpidio Quirino Suite
President Elpidio Quirino Suite
Interior Decorator Ram Bucoy designed the President Elpidio Quirino Suite

President Elpidio Quirino Suite | Designer: Casa Buddha (Ram Bucoy)

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite
Arthur Tselishchev of A Design
Arthur Tselishchev of A Design
Anton Barretto III of A Design
Anton Barretto III of A Design

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Suite | Designer: A Design (IDr. Ma. Teresa “Tessa” Alindogan, Alfredo Antonio “Anton” Barretto III, Arthur Tselishchev)

President Diosdado Macapagal Suite
President Diosdado Macapagal Suite
President Diosdado Macapagal Suite
President Diosdado Macapagal Suite
President Diosdado Macapagal Suite
President Diosdado Macapagal Suite
Mia Borromeo and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Eder Zobel de Ayala
Mia Borromeo and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Eder Zobel de Ayala
Junie Rodriguez
Junie Rodriguez

President Diosdado Macapagal Suite | Designer: The Collective (Elizabeth “Lizzie” Eder Zobel de Ayala, Junie Rodriguez, Mia
Borromeo)

Designer Antonio Mendoza’s homage to President Carlos P. Garcia captures the essence of nationalism and cultural revival, with accents such as a salakot by artist Ian Giron and a chessboard highlighting Garcia’s prowess in the game. Meanwhile, IDr. Jose Luis Villanueva’s suite for President Ramon Magsaysay offers a glimpse into the president’s personal life, with murals depicting rural scenes and bespoke furniture reflecting his love for farming.

President Carlos P. Garcia Suite
President Carlos P. Garcia Suite
President Carlos P. Garcia Suite
President Carlos P. Garcia Suite
President Carlos P. Garcia Suite
President Carlos P. Garcia Suite
President Diosdado Macapagal Suite
President Carlos P. Garcia Suite
Antonio Mendoza
Antonio Mendoza

President Carlos P. Garcia Suite | Designer: La Maison D’Antoine (Antonio Mendoza)

President Ramon Magsaysay Suite
President Ramon Magsaysay Suite
President Ramon Magsaysay Suite
President Ramon Magsaysay Suite
President Ramon Magsaysay Suite
President Ramon Magsaysay Suite
President Ramon Magsaysay Suite
President Ramon Magsaysay Suite

President Ramon Magsaysay Suite | Designer: Villanueva Interior Design Associates (IDr. Jose Luis “Tito” Villanueva)

President Ejercito Estrada Suite
President Ejercito Estrada Suite
President Ejercito Estrada Suite
President Ejercito Estrada Suite
President Ejercito Estrada Suite
President Ejercito Estrada Suite
President Ejercito Estrada Suite
President Ejercito Estrada Suite

President Joseph Ejercito Estrada Suite | Designer: Jonathan G. Matti Design Associates (Ar. Jonathan Matti)

Interior Decorator Ram Bucoy who designed the room named after Elpidio Quirino, one of the first bedrooms guests will find in the ground floor, shares his experience when designing the space. “I wanted it to be like, wow, nice. Nothing too heavy because I’m not the type who’d make a room look heavy and especially that they’ll be using this room after a long day at work,” he explains. “I wanted it to be fresh. Being into colors, it was a little bit hard because I didn’t want to make it bright and poppy. I just used some subdued colors and played with all the pastels that I love, like pink, of course, is my favorite color.”

A Journey Through Presidential Histories

Venturing to the second floor, guests are greeted with an equally enchanting array of suites, each meticulously curated to reflect the personality and legacy of its namesake president. From President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s library-inspired room, adorned with eclectic furnishings and bespoke artwork, to President Manuel L. Quezon’s “Pearl of the Orient Seas” suite, featuring bamboo fiber and mother of pearl accents, each room offers a glimpse into a different chapter of Philippine history.

President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
President Rodrigo Duterte Suite
Chat Fores
Chat Fores

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Suite | Designer: Chat Fores Design Studio (IDr. Chartra “Chat” Paz Fores)

President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
President Fidel V. Ramos Suite
Jorge Yulo
Jorge Yulo

President Fidel V. Ramos Suite | Designer: Jorge Yulo Architects and Associates (Ar. Jorge Yulo)

President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
President Manuel L. Quezon Suite
Tatiana Patrixia "Tania"Fricke Lichauco
Tatiana Patrixia “Tania”Fricke Lichauco

President Manuel L. Quezon Suite | Designer: TFLifestyle Studio (Tatiana Patrixia “Tania” Fricke Lichauco)

In-charge of designing the President Quezon’s room, Tania Lichauco shares what she hopes would be the takeaway of anyone who would stay in this room: “I think their takeaway would really be that this is really a special place and a bigger part of the world. You know, we represent so many good things.”

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III Suite | Designer: Atelier Almario (IDr. Maria Victoria “Ivy” Almario and Cynthia Almario)

President Corazon Aquino Suite
President Corazon Aquino Suite
President Corazon Aquino Suite
President Corazon Aquino Suite
President Corazon Aquino Suite
President Corazon Aquino Suite
President Corazon Aquino Suite
President Corazon Aquino Suite

President Corazon Aquino Suite | Designer: Balay ni Atong Arts, Crafts and Antiques (Al Modesto Valenciano)

IDr. Chat Fores, meanwhile, designed the President Rodrigo Duterte’s room where she wants guests to see the soft side of the president who is known for his strong personality. “When you talk to him, he actually feels like you’re talking to your father… When he curses, it’s there. But then, he knows a lot of things… What was nice was that I felt like I was talking to somebody who knew a lot of things more than just administration and all that,” she says as she shares her experience meeting the former president.

President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite
President Manuel Roxas Suite

President Manuel Roxas Suite | Designer: RED Interior Design (IDr. Maria Cecilia “Cecil” P. Ravelas)

President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite
President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite

President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Suite | Designer: Jonathan G. Matti Design Associates (Ar. Jonathan Matti)

Also located on the second floor is the President Fidel V. Ramos room designed by Architect Jorge Yulo. Its striking cobalt blue interior was inspired by the color blue of the Philippine flad which symbolizes peace. Yulo also took inspiration from Ramos’ love for diving, hence the color blue like the ocean.

The Laurel Hall and Beyond

Beyond the exquisitely designed presidential suites, the Laperal Mansion offers a gathering space unlike any other—the Laurel Hall. Named after the Laurel family, whose contributions to Philippine history are as notable as they are varied, this grand hall serves as the centerpiece of the mansion’s communal areas.

Designed by Jonathan G. Matti Design Associates, the Laurel Hall embodies the spirit of unity and progress that defines the Filipino people. From its wrought iron dining table bases by Calado Iron Works to its wicker dining chairs by ADR Rattan, every detail reflects a commitment to local craftsmanship and heritage.

As guests gather in this majestic hall, they are surrounded by a symphony of Filipino artistry and ingenuity. Upholstery donated by Bea Roxas, made from sugarcane fiber, adds a touch of eco-conscious luxury, while lamps and accessories sourced from Vetted at Mile Long provide the perfect finishing touch.

Honoring Tradition, Embracing Innovation

In every corner of the Laperal Mansion, tradition and innovation intertwine to create a space that is as timeless as it is forward-thinking. From the meticulously restored architecture to the locally crafted furnishings and artworks, every detail reflects a deep appreciation for Philippine heritage and culture.

Laperal Mansion’s Spa | Designer: C.T. Onglao Architects, Inc. (Conrad T. Onglao)

As guests explore the mansion’s corridors and chambers, the spaces invite them to embark on a journey through time—a journey that celebrates the past while embracing the future. Here, amid the grandeur of its surroundings and the warmth of its hospitality, the Laperal Mansion stands as a testament to the enduring beauty and resilience of the Filipino spirit.

Embracing Filipino Hospitality

In the heart of Manila, amid the hustle and bustle of urban life, the Laperal Mansion stands as a beacon of elegance and grace. From its historic roots to its modern-day incarnation as a Presidential Guest House, it serves as a symbol of Filipino excellence—a reminder of the rich tapestry of culture, heritage, and tradition that defines the Philippines.

As visitors from around the world pass through its doors, the mansion welcomes them not just as guests, but as friends. Here, in this storied mansion, they are invited to experience the warmth of Filipino hospitality, to bask in the beauty of its surroundings, and to embark on a journey through history unlike any other.

In preserving and revitalizing landmarks like the Laperal Mansion, the Philippine government not only honors the past but also paves the way for a brighter future. As we continue to celebrate our heritage and embrace our identity, we ensure that the legacy of places like the Laperal Mansion will endure for generations to come—a testament to the enduring spirit of the Filipino people.

READ MORE: Revitalizing the Pasig River to Transform Manila’s Social Fabric


Credits

Text by Rick Formalejo
Photography by Ed Simon and Excel Panlaque
Videography by JR Ramirez
MMA Jehd Francisco
Video Editor Brylle Sarmiento
Sittings Editor Geewel Fuster
Shoot Coordinator Mae Talaid

Special Thanks to Social Secretary’s Office of Malacañang

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