Manila Army and Navy Club

The Manila Army and Navy Club was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1911. The club is located a long the Luneta Park at the shore of Manila Bay. Together with its sister, the "Elks Club" it has been the center of the social life of the Americans during many decades. In the later part of the 20th century it gradually decayed. In 2007 the then derelict building was planned to be renovated.


In December 1998 the Army and Navy Club of Manila was organized. The first president was Col. Smith of California.

Social Life

During the American period in the first half of the 20th century entrance to the Army and Navy Club was not allowed for locals as is illustrated by the following excerpt from a New York Times Article from 1922 reporting on the visit of Senator Bingham to the Philippines:

Called upon to speak, Mr. Bingham arose and, with a glint in his grey eye, said: "I am, I believe, the only American representative of government who has ever refused to enter the doors of the Army & Navy Club in Manila."

It was a provocative beginning. Nowhere is a good story better appreciated than in isolated Hawaii; no topic is more popular in Hawaii than anything pertaining to the behavior of those still further removed colonists, the white U. S. citizens of the Philippines.

Mr. Bingham's audience was all attention as he proceeded to relate how, a few weeks previously, he had been invited as guest of honor to a banquet in the Army & Navy Club of Manila. Mr. Bingham had asked whether outstanding native politicians, such as President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Senate or Senator Sergio Osmena, independence leader, would be present; "Certainly not," snorted the Army & Navy Club of Manila, and proceeded to instruct Mr. Bingham that no Filipinos (except, of course, servants) were admitted within the doors of the Army & Navy Club of Manila.

The life around the Army and navy Club in the ninety thirties is described by Aslakson as follows:

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 "drunk's 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 "drunk's row" and let them sleep it off. In the morning fifteen to twenty officers would wake up on those bunks.

The Club had a beautiful swimming pool between the club and the sea wall which on festive occasions such as New Years Eve would at times be the recipient of officers and their wives in evening clothes.

New Years Eve was always the occasion for a big celebration at the Army and Navy Club. First after many drinks, everyone went over to the Manila Hotel for dinner. This was followed by going out to the Santa Ana Night Club. The Santa Ana was actually a huge house of prostitution with what was advertised as the largest dance floor in the world. At one end of the floor there was a fencelike partition. The ladies of the night and their partners for the evening who were usually soldiers or sailors, were on one side of the partition and the curiosity seeking guests such as ourselves remained dancing on the other side. Drinks could be ordered on either side. Also there was dancing on either side.


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