Casino Español de Manila
The Casino Español de Manila was a club established in 1893 by Spaniards living in the Philippines as their exclusive venue for recreational and social activities. It later opened its doors to Filipino members to foster Spanish-Filipino ties in the country.
Earlier records show that Governor General Narciso Claveria y Zaldua formalized the foundation of the casino in Manila on October 31, 1844, the date which is celebrated by the casino as the year of its founding.
American colonial period
The structure used to occupy the whole block from Taft Avenue to San Marcelino St. and housed the offices of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and the Consulate General of Spain. As the official clubhouse and social venue of the Spanish community, the building’s reception and banquet halls hosted parties, celebrations and balls. Among the noted events in this venue in the 1930s was the extravagant party held to celebrate the birthday of the King of Spain. Apart from attending parties in its halls, guests could also view the garden from the terrace while members could play tennis and pelota games in its courts.
In 1945, the structure was destroyed in World War II during the Liberation of Manila. The club was temporarily moved to a two-story house along Apacible St. (formerly Oregon) and Perez St. in Paco, Manila.
In 1951, Casino Español de Manila was rebuilt on its original site through the help of Ignacio Planas. Parts of the property were sold and the new structure was built facing San Luis St. (now T.M. Kalaw St.). The new clubhouse was designed by architect José María Zaragoza using the prevalent post-World War II “Filipino-California-Spanish style”. The structure has arched verandas surrounding an inner courtyard.
The new Casino Español de Manila was inaugurated on November 3, 1951 with President Elpidio Quirino and Vice-President Fernando Lopez in attendance. In 1962, it played host to King Juan Carlos de Borbon, who was then the Crown Prince at that time, and Queen Sofia. The Queen returned to the club in year 2000 during an official visit to the Philippines.
While Casino Español de Manila caters to its members only, it now welcomes guests and visitors to its compound. The club holds events in its open-air Patio de Orquidias. It has a restaurant that offers Spanish food in its menu. At the back, it has a fronton that is used for jai alai and pelota games. Right beside the casino is the former site of the Instituto Cervantes Manila where Spanish classes were held, promoting the Spanish culture in the Philippines.
The club has organized a football team. Casino Español fielded a team at the 1935 Philippines Football Championship.
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