Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Mayflower Building

By: Paolo M. Bustamante
I am quite upset with some schools such as the University of the East- Manila, because they are currently demolishing the prewar Laperal Apartments to give way to another high rise buildingAlso, the University of Sto. Tomas' 1930's art deco gymnasium was demolished to give way to a much bigger gym. Moreover, The Colegio de San Juan de Letran also demolished their Vincent Ferrer building which housed the beautiful Letran Statues.  The reason for demolishing the structure is for the preparation for the Quadcentenial Celebration of their school in 2020. Still, for a heritage conservationist like me, it is pretty upsetting.

When I heard that my school, The De La Salle -College of St. Benilde,  purchased the Mayflower Building in Leon Guinto, I didn't know how to react.  I was happy because my school finally purchased a lot to address space issues that our campus is facing due to our growing student population. However, I also felt fearful because I am not sure if they will demolish the building or keep and enhance it.  CSB is a school that is in need of a bigger space for its growing number of students, and I don't know what to expect from my school in a situation like that.

When I entered the Mayflower Building, the first thing that I saw was the staircase. The rooms remained spacious and it was very nice-looking that I somehow wanted to pattern my dreamhouse to it. It was so elegant and beautiful. However, the promise of it being demolished still hung in the air.

According to and the Benildean Press, the Mayflower building was built in 1938. A Filipino architect was commissioned by then Vice President Fernando Lopez, to design an innovative building in Malate. Many lives were lost in this building during the Japanese Occupation. It is one of the few surviving Art Deco apartments after the Second World War. After the war, it was leased to the US Agency for International Deveplopment to serve as their offices. The Mayflower also became the resthouse/meeting place of former Presidents Elpidio Quirino and Ramon Magsaysay. During the 1970's the building served as the Embassy of Indonesia and Spain. During the 1980's it was then taken over by the Opus Dei to serve as their Maynila Study Center.  Finally, in 1994 it became the home to the Insituto Cervantes and it was inaugurated by Her Royal Highness Infanta Elena of Spain.

The De La Salle- College of St. Benilde purchased the building on June 16, 2011.  The Mayflower Building first opened its doors to Benildeans during the celebration of the 100 year presence of the De La Salle Community in the Philippines.  The ground floor is now a restaurant under the management of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management of CSB. (By the way, I heard the food there is delicious and affordable.  I must try it sometime.) The Second floor currently houses the Student Publication Office of Benilde, the Yearbook Office and the Student Behavior Office. The third floor is occupied by the Department of Student Life and Center for Social Action. Lastly, the fourth Floor has a student lounge for Benildeans.

I am a proud Benildean and I am proud of my school for not demolishing this heritage site. I know that there are a lot of freshmen that are enrolling at CSB, and its is currently facing space constraints. But instead of expanding and making another high rise building, they reused the building and fashioned it to serve another purpose, just like St. Scholastica's Fridenhouse Hotel. 



  1. It was not the University of the East – Manila and/or the Lucio Tan Group who acquired the Laperal property in C.M. Recto Avenue. Sources said that it was the Henry Sy or SM Group who acquired the property from the Laperals, UE management said that it was offered to Chairman Lucio Tan but denies acquisition due to some existing cases in Philippine courts (though not sure whether it were inheritance issues or heritage conservation, but the demolition initiated by SM was halted leaving the old facade of the apartment still standing).

    1. Hi Patt! I featured the Laperal Apartments in my blog last year. Take time to read the comments.

      Anonymous: The Laperal apartment might have been one of the major historical sites in the Philippines, but don't be so negative, this old building will soon be transformed into a state of the art building for UE College of Dentistry, More filipino students would benefit from that demolition, isn't great? why maintain a such delapidated building?, well in fact we could have done something better...

      Joshuaiii: My mom is one of UE stock holders. CONFIRMED. UE bought LaperalApartment in Recto. :)
      So Please Oh Please? Stop this argument!

      here is the link:

    2. Hi Paolo! Thank you for responding to my comment.

      True! since around 2004-2008 (my college years in UE manila, don’t count my age! Lol), the UE College of Dentistry was so eager to move out from the college’s old and relatively small building. Actually they’re already occupying some spaces in other adjacent building as a temporary solution with their problem in space. On those years 2 properties were being eyed by the administration to be purchase to solve the University’s problem with space, first was the Laperal property (news that time spread that the Laperals have no interest on selling the property), the second was the property beside the UE theatre in CM. Recto Ave, and the former location of the UE College of Liberal Arts building that was sold to a private individual in the late 80’s (successfully reacquired by UE, and now the UE-Tan Yan Kee Garden). To cut the story short, instead of the earlier plan to acquired the Laperal property that was adjacent to the Manila Campus, UE acquired the Go property which was also in CM Recto Ave (the birthplace of Ever Emporium and Ever Gotesco Malls), and transformed the originally 5 storey plaza to a 7 storey UE Manila Annex building that will soon be the home of the UE College of Dentistry. Presently the construction is around 40-50% complete and UE administration already announced the plan to move the College of Dentistry by next year and the old Dentistry bldg will soon house the high school department.

      By the way Paolo, thank you for your advocacy in educating the Filipinos about our heritage, hopefully our very dear government will soon understand the importance of preserving our history, culture and heritage.

  2. I will never forget that building.. I used to perform a duty on that building around 2004-2005 that place is very nice well preserve and owned by the eldest son of wellknown Don Paco Delgado. bitter memories in their when I'm gone. every morning I cleaned the parking area and garden through sweeping the leaves. I'm the longest security guard that perform on that takes a patience to stay on the owner and it take it for challenge..Unforgettable memories mayflower.. hope to visit that place oneday..

  3. The Laperal Apartment is NOT purchased by UE. I can't believe that you are using comments from anonymous people as evidence. Yung high rise building na itatayo ay sa likod. The old building will be renovated.