The Manila Hotel
A Television Series set in the famous Manila Hotel
The Manila Hotel (Science Fiction)
by Alan Nafzger and Shasel Arbues
From 2020 until 2030, it was the policy of the Philippines government to license corporations to clone certain celebrity individuals. The corporations contracted with great personalities of the decade. They collected DNA from popular political, movie, television and sports personalities and signed contracts with them and their their estates.
The policy was changed when it became clear that the venture would fail. It turned out that none of the clones had the initiative (all they wanted to do was sit around and read), and many never developed (because of environmental factors – no hands-on mother or father-figure for example) the talent or skill of their DNA donor. Also, there was a great deal of discrimination holding the clones back, and the expense on the companies to raise them made the whole operation not economically feasible. The practice of cloning was abandoned as a failed social experiment. But, where to put the 55,009 living clones world-wide? There are 570 clones housed in the historic Manila Hotel.
This is a television set in the 2080s. The global population is seriously decreased, and society seems to have escaped the fate we frequently assign to it (another dark age), and the Philipines are highly developed. However, cloning is a technology that has fallen out of favor, and the clones are warehoused. There are seen as a drain on the economy and to recoup some of the expenses they are loaned out like library books.
Over 40 years into the future, the old Manila Hotel is converted into a public library (of sorts). It houses the clones of famous early 21st century Filipino artists, poets, writers, politicians, the smartest professors, famous Americans. It’s all a “little creepy” so the government requires the clones to live in one central location (the Manila Hotel) with a moderate amount of supervision. The clones are termed, “benevolent state property” but are allowed to pursue whatever interests/hobbies they have, so long as they are available to help patrons of the clone library. Criminals in prisons are labeled “malevolent state property.
Technologically, this is actually possible. And in the story before a celebrity or famous person dies, they are cloned. Until 2070, the clones study the experiences of their donor’s lives and are quizzed and coached. However, the technology used to clone people wasn’t perfect, which created imperfections – hurdles (obstacles) for the clone to overcome.
The collective intelligence of 21st century Philipines is housed at the Manila Public Library and serves the public good, something like a public library or book store does today. People can go to the library can check out the clone of a famous person.
In the story, Manileños will go to a library (actually something between a half-way house and a luxury hotel), and a patron can check out a celebrity like you do a book from a library today.
Each week, a Manileño in trouble, not necessarily at odds with the police or the government, comes to the library to gain the assistance of one of the clones. They might have personal problems… or have problems at work or with their family that need to be resolved. Checking out a person from the clone library is like renting a friend, life coach or an expert, whichever the patron needs. The clones help people.
I envision people checking out clones to visit their relatives in the hospital, cheering them up. Maybe they are on their deathbed and the clone comes to visit them and speak wisdom to them.
Men can use clones to persuade women, as a Cicero De Bergerac type story. A common of story line.
The clones can be hired out for birthday parties and celebrations.
Businessmen can use them as sounding boards, or they can be used as promotional gimmicks. There are 100s of scenarios to play out.
Sometimes, the patron (the person using the clone library) doesn’t even have a problem to solve but just checks out a clone for the novelty of it. However, the clone insightfully notices a problem on the horizon and together with the patron, they move to solve the problem before it becomes too real.
Doctors can use them in tests. Lawyers can use them in mock trials. Professors also as experimental and study subjects.
This TV series is for an hour time slot each week, and there can be several plots in each episode.
- A-List celebrities – the main problem some political, legal, or cultural problems.
- B-List celebrities – a subplot can center on love, art, or nostalgia
Who would need a to check out clone and for what reason?
- A detective might use a clone to solve a crime?
- Diplomat might use a clone to stop a war?
- A doctor needs to cure a disease?
- A business man needs help negotiating a business deal?
- A writer uses a clone to pitch a film?
- A teach might use a clone to teach a difficult/complicated lesson?
The draw (why they watch) for the audience each week can be who will appear as a guest. Business-wise, we are looking at targeting the readers of the celebrity trade magazines – Pep.ph, Yes!, Preview, Candy, Hola! The same consumers who purchase celebrity magazines will tune in to watch this series.
We see this television series as a cross between Love Boat (1977–1987) and Murder She Wrote (1984–1996). Or possibly a soft version of The Equalizer (1985–1989). These American TV series were broadcast in the Philipines.
Cloning is a viable idea in the audience’s mind. Several profitable feature films have centered on cloning technology…
- Boys from Brazil (1978)
- Replicas (2018)
- Surrogates (2009)
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
- Impostor (2001)
- Replicant (2001)
- Jurassic Park (1993)
- Blade Runner (1982)
TWO “MANILA” BUILDINGS
This is 2080 and there will need to be two hotels, the OLD one is a public library and the other a NEW five-star hotel. The Manila Public Library (1 Rizal Park, Ermita), the building we are familiar with, has been taken over by the government to house the clones. Since 2070, it has fallen into less than glamorous circumstances. Also, part of the story is a new ultra-modern New Manila Hotel, remodeled in 2030. Typically, the patrons who check out the clone sometimes are housed there but not always. Many times the patron will be poor and travels to Manila and a wealthy patron put them in the nice new Manila Hotel while the clone solves the problem.
THREE PILOTS TO CHOSE FROM
The 7/8 Mile Club
When a teenage girl is abducted by a billionaire pimp who runs an anything-goes, invitation-only 737 brothel, the girl’s parents use the library to find their missing daughter. Two clones (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) must infiltrate the brothel, take a flight (out of US airspace) and discover that a billionaire hedge-fund manager is extorting guests, and the girls are under-age. In an out of place case; let’s put Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the role of the Dr. William Harford character from Eyes Wide Open. The two clones learn the hedge-fund owner, turned pimp, is extorting politicians (for national security secrets) and royalty (for money and social position).
GLOBAL ENTERPRISE – The Manila Hotel
All the global markets have both celebrities and grand old hotels. There are hotels with celebrity and television appeal in every major city. Once successful, this series can be expanded to many markets. We can license this television series out to producers around the world. For example…
The Manila Hotel
- New York – Waldorf Astoria
- Tokyo – Imperial Hotel
- London – The Savoy
- Berlin – Adlon Kempinski
- Moscow – Izmailovo
- Rome – Hotel de Russie
- Beijing – Wanda Vista
- Los Angeles – The Roosevelt
EACH EPISODE – The Manila Hotel
Each weak people go to the Manila Hotel, which is in 2080, is a public library full of clones. There are 570 rooms in the hotel and each is home to a clone, a different clone is featured each week.
Shasel and I believe with a successful pilot many celebrities will want to appear. The personalities (guest stars) portray clones of theirs. How many times does an actor get an opportunity to play themselves? The guest stars are checked out and help someone different each week. We would pitch a guest appearance on this series as a “vacation” and “a chance to portray themselves,” and “inject a bit of their real personality.”
This TV series should have a very long run; there is an endless supply of personalities to appear on the show. While there are a permanent cast, many many actors can by cycled into the show.
Filmmakers visit the hotel looking to use the clones as actors in historical films.
A student has alienated his professors by thinking too progressively; he can’t pass his doctoral examination without help and advice. He hires one of the clones to coach him.
A Filipina can’t pay her rent, and she receives the help of a business-savy clone (John Gokongwei).
A Filipino parole officer can use a clone (Baron Geisler) to teach wisdom to a group of rebellious kids.
A Filipino writer can’t complete his novel without a muse (Susan Roces).
Two clones, from different demographic groups, written into each story can increase the audience. For example, one clone from Luzan and another clone from the southern islands would appeal to the highest number of people. Contrasting celebrities work opposite each other. Urban and rural. Old and young. Dramatic and comedic. We want this series to appeal to everyone!!!
Life Inside the Manila Hotel
- The clerk is an unsmiling “Russian passport inspector.” Very meticulous and methodical. She has an attention for detail. She is legalistic and the law-and-order type. The clones are all criminals… while they aren’t she treats them this way.
- The concierge is an idealistic/dissident teenager, willing to break the rules and tell the bad guys to F-off! Each episode, she’s portrayed as lazy, but midway through each episode, she begins to work hard only after being enlightened.
- The food is rationed and unflattering. Worse than any prison or school cafeteria food. The cafeteria ladies try, but the clones are out of fashion and the system simply doesn’t provide.
- The closed and over-regulated economy inside the Manila Hotel means that consumer goods from the outside are coveted by many clones. There is a healthy black market at work.
- The telephones and computers inside the Manila are outdated, at least 20 years behind the technology outside.
- In the “official” shop in the library, the shelves are empty. Several Beryozki have sprung up in the rooms of clones. Only clones who have hard currency to spend can have cell phones, fresh fruit, and Kindles. All tolerated but illegal for clones.
- The more talented singer and musician clones’ songs are pirated on CD disks. They are not allowed, or must have special permission to distribute their art. No clone is allowed to profit from their “genetic” talents. So many of the artists perform underground inside the library. Many artists continue working clandestinely, painting, sculpting, writing, architecture, music-making, photography and filmmaking, under other non-artists names or pseudonyms.
- There is an underground theater, newspaper and even a hidden Zerox machine for Samizdat documents. The clones are oppressed but have an underground economy. It is very difficult, impossible, to break the creative spirit of the clones.
- The lack of consumer products inspires extraordinary resourcefulness among clones: television aerials made out of forks and coat-hangers, a bath-plug made out of a boot heel, a road sign recycled as a shovel.
- Right up to the very end of the series, we still encounter monocular “humans” non-clones from outside the library who are defenders of the library system for clones. They support what is happening at the Manila, what they still believed, against all the evidence of their senses, to be a good public policy.
- There are pro-clone propaganda posters. Huge posters in the library celebrated the towering intellects of the LA mayor, CA governor and US president (the oppressors). The clones can’t vote, but are subjected to the propaganda. There are posters, and even TV commercials, pointing to the societal and individual problems they are collectively solving; and the achievements of whichever five-year circulations goals they were supposed to reach.
- Occasionally, almost randomly, the directors of the program come and award a clone with a medal. It’s invariably AOC, the first female President and the leader who took executive-action (eminent-domain) to house the clones as “public goods” and for the old hotels to be used for the public good, like librarys.
- Stationed at a desk on each floor of the library is a government employee. Always a female, she keeps an eye on clones, maintains order and is the person clones must speak to get soap, toilet paper, a bath plug, or to dial an outside phone call. Somehow, these characters are always icy to begin with and then crack to show an unexpected warmth that makes you wonder how loyal they are to the government.
- The concierge is the only driver for the clones and when a clone gets into her vehicle and they reach for the seat belt, “You don’t need it” is the first thing the concierge says. She feels that it is a kind of derogatory statement about her competence as a driver to wear a seat belt.
- There are lectures on the official, in house, television channel on the “scientific” (they are all orphans and social programming hadn’t yet caught up with genetic technology, schools failed to educate them properly), and “unexplained” phenomena (ghost in the genes) that make clones untrustworthy. Everyone watches bootlegged programs from outside the library, but some clones document and debate the social control they are subjected too. One writer (clone) is penning something similar to Gulag Archipelago. Documents are being smuggled out.
- There is a saying among the clones, “Without papers you are nothing but a cockroach.” Friends help their friends secure trips outside the Manila. Because clones are searched for contraband (anything bought without permission) when returning to “purchase” or “gift” papers are the most forged documents.
- At least one Los Angelino has a business where clones pay him to check them out. And then the Angelino doesn’t put them to work but lets them free-lance or do what they want, unsupervised.
The Cast – The Manila Hotel
While most of the attention will be on the show’s guest. There are regular supporting actors involved.
- The front desk CLERK gives each person who needs a clone, the options – who they can and can’t check out. She also foreshadows the weakness or flaw in each episode, things that will create obstacles. The clerk also outlines the profession and abilities of the clones, in case the viewer doesn’t know the guest/clone’s personality. The clerk is efficient! She’s robotic, you can even make her an android if you want; the show is set in 2080.
- The CONCIERGE is a bad employee, but each week she becomes enlightened and helps the clones in the end; she is their uber driver (however in a real jalopy), she is their research assistant (but she must borrow a computer or use her own personal phone). She symbolizes both the anger and hope of youth. The concierge is every clones sidekick and sounding board. This character’s trademark in each episode is that she curses out the bad guy. Her trademark in the show is that she always insults the antagonist. She’s “savage” and always says something without a filter. She’s at times more raw and public with her words than people are comfortable with, but this is why she’s remembered/adored by the audience.
- I would like to pay homage to the CAFETERIA LADIES everywhere and create a few jobs for character actors (sweet older ladies) in Manila, by creating a few characters. Many of us have been on some campus, or other, from the time we were in the 1st grade and even now we see professor emeritus eating in the college cafeteria. The women that run the library’s cafeteria are always in a stew about government cutbacks. They feel for the clones and do their very best. One mature woman buys spices and other improvements with her own money. A second, older cafeteria worker brings spices from her own garden to liven up the bland meals. A third cook, some kid, is a dumpster diver or shop-lifter… but when asked where they got certain items, they respond, “Ralphs” or “Bristol Farms.” Regardless of how they find the spices, they are selfless.
- There must be a HANDLER, a Stasi-like person who keeps an eye on the clones to make certain they don’t break any of the rules. This is a parole officer type, government bureaucrat, someone who was kicked off the police force. Someone who has the personality of Sue Sylvester in Glee or worse. This character is a Quixotic cop that needs to be a hero so badly they act foolishly. Or perhaps make the handler like Col. Klink from Hogan’s Heros.
- The GUARD at the front door is a teddy bear of a man. He’s well over seventy-years-old and lets most infractions go. He pretends to search the clones.
- The EXECUTIVE LIBRARIAN is always mentioned, but his/her office door is always shown closed. The shades are perpetually pulled closed. She/he might be dead for all we know. This person is supposed to exist but there have been cases where bureaucracies continue to function without leadership, sometimes for years. The employees of the library do what they want to. One, because the head librarian never answers the phone, and second, the employees have learned to call and fake a conversation that results in the librarian “allegedly” giving them instructions to do whatever the employee wants. In the last episode, you can open the office door and someone checks the voice mail… 829 messages. Or Cheech Marin is at the desk stoned out of his gord.
Realism for Television
Realism for television may not be the norm for television; however, bad things happen, people aren’t all created equally (clones aren’t allowed to be the men and women their donors were) and so they face obstacles, both internal and external. This series can’t avoid politics. Everything is political. So this series confronts the current issues — health care, immigration, animal rights, income inequality, workplace diversity, sports and presidianial politics, etc. Both sides of any issue would be equally represented in theory. Filipinos today live in turbulent times and TV should compliment that.
Manileños have many problems that need solving. Some problems are societal, and some are individual. It is a comforting thought that, in the future, there might be such a public library where people can go to check out help.
Alan Nafzger, copyright, 2019
The Manila Hotel is a 550-room, historic five-star hotel located along Manila Bay in Manila, Philippines. The hotel is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines built in 1909 to rival Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines and was opened on the commemoration of American Independence on July 4, 1912. The hotel complex was built on a reclaimed area of 35,000 square metres (380,000 sq ft) at the northwestern end of Rizal Park along Bonifacio Drive in Ermita. Its penthouse served as the residence of General Douglas MacArthur during his tenure as the Military Advisor of the Philippine Commonwealth from 1935 to 1941.
The hotel used to host the offices of several foreign news organizations, including The New York Times. It has hosted world leaders and celebrities, including authors Ernest Hemingway and James A. Michener; actors Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and John Wayne; publisher Henry Luce; entertainers Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson and The Beatles; and U.S. President Bill Clinton.
The hotel tower, built as part of the hotel’s renovation and expansion from 1975 to 1977, is the tallest hotel tower in the Manila Bay area.
When the United States took over the Philippine Islands from the Spanish in 1898 after the Spanish–American War, President William McKinley began Americanizing the former Spanish colony. In 1900 he appointed William Howard Taft to head the Philippine Commission to evaluate the needs of the new territory. Taft, who later became the Philippines’ first civilian Governor-General, decided that Manila, the capital, should be a planned town. He hired as his architect and city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham, who had built Union Station and the Postal Square Building in Washington. In Manila, Burnham had in mind a long, wide, tree-lined boulevard along the bay, beginning at a park area dominated by a magnificent hotel. To execute Burnham’s plans, Taft hired William E. Parsons, a New York City architect, who envisioned an impressive, comfortable hotel along the lines of a California mission but grander. The original design was an H-shaped plan that focused on well-ventilated rooms on two wings, providing grand vistas of the harbor, the Luneta, and Intramuros. The top floor was, in fact, a large viewing deck that was used for various functions, including watching the American navy steam into the harbor.
The hotel was finished construction in 1912 and opened on July 4, 1912. to commemorate American Independence Day. The hotel was owned by private individuals and firms until 1919 when the Insular Government purchased all outstanding shares and put the Manila Hotel Company under the Manila Railroad Company.
During the start of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935, President Manuel Quezon hired Paris-trained Filipino architect Andres P. Luna, son of painter Juan N. Luna to take charge of the ₱1,000,000 renovation of the Manila Hotel, equivalent to $10,000,000 in 2020 USD. It was done under the supervision of the renowned engineering firm Pedro Siochi and Company. The hotel was the residence of General Douglas MacArthur when he became the Military Advisor of the Commonwealth. Luna converted the hotel’s top floor into an elegant penthouse and expanded the west wing northward – creating the air-conditioned annex – and designed some key public rooms like the Fiesta Pavilion, then the biggest function room of the hotel. The hotel was the site of festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth government in November, 1935. Throughout 1936, the hotel profitted from the mining boom with annual revenue increasing 7.6% and business increasing two to sixfold in the slack period of April-September, breaking its trend of only breaking even or ending the year in a loss. In the late 30’s the hotel was advertized as the Aristocrat of the Orient.
World War II
During World War II, the hotel was occupied by Japanese troops, and the Japanese flag was flown above the walls for the entirety of the war. During the Battle for the Liberation of Manila, the hotel was set on fire by the Japanese. The shell of the building survived the blaze and the structure was later reconstructed.
President Ferdinand Marcos
During the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, in accordance with Presidential Decree no. 645, the old Manila Hotel Company was liquidated and the government took over its ownership. The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) was given the mandate to form a new subsidiary corporation that would restore, renovate, and expand the Manila Hotel. In the following two decades, Mr. Marcos’s wife, Imelda, could frequently be seen at the hotel restaurants. During her visits, a red carpet and garlands were put out and the air was sprayed with deodorant. Under Imelda’s patronage, the hotel reaped international recognition and awards. It was the place to go and be seen during the Martial Law years.
Manila Hotel’s 1975 high-rise building as seen from Quirino Grandstand.
The hotel was remodeled in 1975 and expanded to 570 rooms with the addition of the high-rise hotel building behind the original five-story structure. The renovations were headed by National Artists for Architecture Leandro Locsin and Ildefonso Santos with Patricia Keller, a partner in the international interior design firm of Dale Keller & Associates. Guest amenities were updated including executive services, language translation, a business library, and color television and closed circuit movies. The hotel’s spartan interiors in simplified Mission style gave way to more lavish furnishings. Inauguration and formal reopening ceremonies of the Manila Hotel was held on October 6, 1977.
Transfer of ownership
Around 1995, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) called for a bidding to sell the property. The tender went to a Malaysian firm, the Renong Berhad and ITT-Sheraton combine over Emilio Yap, a Chinese Filipino billionaire tycoon and owner of the Manila Bulletin, the country’s largest newspaper by circulation. Yap went to the Supreme Court of the Philippines and won by matching Rehong’s bid and citing the Constitution’s Filipino First policy in the ownership of a ‘national patrimony’. Fifty-one percent of the ownership was awarded to Yap’s Manila Prince Hotel Corporation (MPHC), while new owners joined on April 25, 1997, as 49 percent shareholder. Yap signed a check for ₱673.2 million and the MPHC took over the property on May 7, 1997. One of the first things Yap did was to pull down the three brass chandeliers in the lobby, upon recommendation of a feng shui expert, and replace them with five.
In 2008, the Manila Hotel underwent a series of renovations in time for its centennial celebration in 2012. All of the hotel’s rooms were refurbished and renovated and equipped with modern facilities and amenities. The rooms’ windows were enlarged. The hotel also opened a Health Club next to the Manila Hotel Health Spa.
On January 17, 2008, the Manila Hotel Tent City, located west of the original structure was opened. The performance/conference hall could accommodate 2,500 guests for wedding receptions, anniversaries, conventions, and exhibitions. Its high ceilings allow even the most complex of venue set-ups and design. The Tent became the center stage when the hotel celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Ball on July 4, 2012, with President Benigno Aquino III as the guest-of-honor.
Originally posted 2021-01-17 08:17:46.