I woke up at half past 3 in the afternoon in Manila. I was refreshed and the pain in my eye that has been bugging me the past four days is now gone. We arrived in the capital 12 hours before, hit the welcoming pillows of the quaint Casa Bocobo Hotel at 4AM, visited a government agency for a scheduled appointment, had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, and went home to get some much-needed shut eye. I was glad it was still half past 3. That means we still have enough day light to cover at least one museum, the whole length of Rizal Park, and still be on time for an afternoon tea.
The story on The Manila Hotel started with my brother who keeps on recalling a trip he had with our grandfather. They stayed at the “magnificent” Manila Hotel. They were both elected government officials then and had a chance to attend a conference in the capital and be billeted at this historic hotel. Of course I was smitten because I am a person who wants to experience things other people tell me about. So, when I woke up that afternoon, I immediately called The Manila Hotel and asked if I could just walk in after 5PM and order their afternoon tea.
When we got there, the hotel was bustling and the lobby was full. The men’s all-white with gold trimming uniform makes them look dashing, something that looked like a movie set. And the women were so tall especially with their serpentina-style Filipiniana gowns. We had to submit our things and ourselves to a check and off we sat at the lobby.
We ordered their afternoon tea set, costing P650, which included a pot of tea (limited selection but they used Twinings), a cup of coffee, a plate of kakanin (bibingka and puto bongbong), small cakes and macarons, and savoury sandwiches and sliders. Tea is served from 3 to 6 in the afternoon. The set calls for long conversations, maybe conversations that would last until dinner time.
While the hotel was busy — there regular patrons eating halo-halo, businessmen, airline crews, debutantes — we were unhurried. It was a lovely lobby.
It was the lobby that prompted Ernest Hemingway to say, “It is a good story if it’s like Manila Hotel.” 
The Manila Hotel is build in the 1910s, art deco, the jazz age, which explains its simple opulence. It is the choice hotel of many dignitaries and celebrities. Recounting our day with my husband, sipping our coffee and tea, I knew why the message the hotel left me said, “We would like to welcome you to our storied hotel.”
 Leyco-Chua, E.A., “Ernest Hemingway: It is a good story if it’s like Manila Hotel.” Business Mirror. June 18, 2016.