23 September 1990, the Nikko Manila Garden and Mandarin Oriental Hotels, Manila, The Philippines

22 July, 2015 Features

On 23 September 1990, UPI reports that bombs exploded in two hotels in Manila’s central business district, known as Makati: the Nikko Manila Garden Hotel, and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The Nikko blast happened at 2:55 pm in room 947. The explosive device was presumed to have been planted in the bathtub, and the blast caused extensive damage to the room. It also blew glass out into the pool area below where eight people, four children included, sustained slight injuries.

The New York Times says that four of the victims were Philippine nationals, and the others were Japanese.

The Mandarin blast happened at about 3:55 pm in room 402. It caused no injuries but, like the Nikko blast, severely damaged the room.

The bomber checked into each hotel under an assumed name, “Manuel Castillo.” Witnesses say he carried just an attaché case, and police say the explosives used were military grade C-4.

These two attacks happened in the midst of a bombing campaign in Manila by unknown parties, but a rogue military faction opposed to the then sitting government of President Corazon Aquino was suspected.

UPI says these attacks were the 24th and 25th bombings in Manila since mid-August of that year. They also happened in the midst of a general strike by leftist extremists opposed to a 29% increase in fuel prices in the face of the 1990-91 Gulf War.

InterAksyon (online news portal of the Philippines’ TV5) reported that the Mandarin Oriental shut down in August 2014 to relocate to a new property that would open in 2020. Said the Mandarin’s general manager Torsten van Dullemen: “The Manila Mandarin’s ‘infrastructure and existing facilities are no longer in keeping with the Group’s well-recognized, luxury hospitality offering.”

A commentator for Virtualtourist.com says the Nikko was sold in the 1990s and transformed into the Dusit Thani hotel.

This case is just one example demonstrating how quickly hotels can become targets in political violence scenarios. There’s no obvious evidence that the apparent attackers were angry at any hotel chain in particular or any VIPs staying in the aforementioned hotels. It seems they did, however, aim to embarrass and/or harass the Aquino government by exploding bombs in its prestigious Makati business district. Such actions moreover eroded the international business community’s confidence in the Philippines, further injuring the Aquino administration. Hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental and Nikko Manila Garden frequently represent much more than just high value lodgings to terrorists. They can also represent a city’s prestige and/or its business prowess, and striking them sends a powerful political message.

Copyright © Muir Analytics 2015

Sources and further reading:

“8 Wounded in Two Manila Bomb Blasts,” New York Times, 24 Sep 1990.

Bombs rock two Philippine hotels,” UPI, 23 September 1990.

COCKTALES | Last call: Mandarin Oriental Manila,” InterAksyon 6 June 2014.

Dusit Thani Manila,” Virtualtourist.com