By Jacky Lynne A. Oiga
Okada Manila, the newest Japanese integrated resort in Manila
Okada Manila Executives and Board of Directors lead the celebration and festivities during the Okada Manila Christmas Preview Event.
From left: Takahiro Usui, Sumire Kamura, Kazuo Okada, Antonio Cojuangco, Justice Manuel Lazaro, Rey David, Steve Wolstenholme, Kengo Takeda, and Yoshinao Negishi
Okada Manila chairman Kazuo Okada
Chairman Okada with the entertainers during Okada Manila’s Christmas preview event
Okada Manila’s amazing World of Wonders talents and performers
The Fountain designed by WET
Luis Manzano, Toni Gonzaga, and Rico Robles host the Okada Manila preview
The most striking thing about Okada Manila, the third and the biggest integrated resort to open in Entertainment City, is that a property this massive couldn’t have gone unnoticed for so long—more so now as it nears completion first quarter of 2017—yet it still managed to outdo its own immensity with The Fountain.
Said fountain is a $30-million water feature measuring 37,464 sqm, which is equivalent to 50 Olympic-size swimming pools. It will be open for viewing 365 days a year. It will be the most iconic feature of the 44-hectare property that will have its own opera house, dome night club, and indoor beach.
But more than the sheer wow factor of the property and its mesmerizing water feature, the most exciting thing about Okada Manila is that it will bring to the forefront Filipino talent, artistry, and ingenuity the Philippines and the world have never seen before.
“There had been a number of integrated resorts that has opened in our midst and in our time. But there are very few that have been game changers,” says Steve Wolstenholme, Okada Manila president. One of those game changers that Wolstenholme alluded to is Marina Bay Sands, which is now identified as an iconic architectural gem of Singapore; a landmark that has made its mark in Singaporean pop culture, from Singapore Tourism Boards’ tourism campaign to souvenir magnets.
Last Wednesday, Okada briefly opened its doors to give guests and VIPs a glimpse of the latest game changer to open its doors in Asia. During the preview event, Okada was finally able to share its “gift to the Filipino people.”
“It’s the latest and greatest integrated resort to be launched at Entertainment City. The reason I say this is because this would make a difference with every single person living here in the Philippines, that’s how big it is. It is enormous. Our entertainment is going to be spectacular,” Wolstenholme says. “We’re all about bringing Filipino entertainment on the global stage. This is a game changer for Manila, it’s a game changer for the Philippines, we recognize that we are here in the Philippines and we are proud to be in the Philippines.”
Celebrating Filipino artistry
As part of its vision and commitment to bring world-class entertainment, Okada advocates in giving the spotlight deservingly to our local music and local artists. As such, the Japanese integrated resort’s, owned by Antonio “Tony Boy” Coquangco’s Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, association and partnership with the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) is an integral part of the property’s relationship with Filipinos.
“I remember when I was a judge for a show called X Factor Philippines, there were so many, on a grassroots level, talents who, in my mind, were definitely deserving and talented but have no means to further their craft. Okada’s partnership with OPM opened so many opportunities for many artists who need to be exposed not only to the Filipinos but to people all over the world,” says Gary Valenciano, OPM vice president.
Valenciano, together with OPM artists like Noel Cabangon, Christian Bautista, and Dingdong Avanzado who also graced Okada’s partnership announcement, are confident that through Filipino music, original compositions, and local artists, the Philippines could better promote itself to the world.
“Through our artist’s voices we utter words that many find very hard to say, through our melodies we extend what’s inside our souls with and to others. Through our music, we share our rich history and culture as a people. OPM and Okada share the belief that the Philippines stands to gain from the growth of the arts, tourism, and leisure industries,” Valenciano says.
World of Wonders
With the Philippines touted as the next entertainment and tourism destination in Asia, competing with entertainment giants like Macau, Singapore, and even Dubai, Okada Manila tapped renowned dancer and choreographer Giulio Scatola to be its creative director to dream up and choreograph fantastical entertainment productions and cutting edge shows.
“Back in January, when I joined Okada, I had this vision that I was really walking into a wonderland. It is truly a modern playground. And for me, it’s not just delivering some kind of entertainment that’s multicultural, very interactive, and immersive, it’s really to deliver a destination,” Scatola says. “With that came the pressure and responsibility to come up with a kind of entertainment that can take the audience on a journey of excellence. That is why I decided to take elements from the circus, club, theater, and cabaret scenes and blend it all together in a very original way so people can have beautiful imagery happening around them,” says Scatola
Entertainment at Okada promises to be interactive and will not only happen on a singular stage but in the whole property, always evolving, always moving, and as Scatola stressed, each performance will tell a story. “I call it the World of Wonders—the beautiful, the rare, and the unexpected,” Scatola adds. “It’s something that’s very original, I believe. Something that is important for the Philippines, for everybody as we do also have this exchange of talent from international artists coming from all over the world, and of course homegrown talents from the Philippines.”
Building an icon
All these performances will be staged and will move around The Fountain, an attraction, another game changer, that is said to rival that of the properties in Las Vegas and Dubai. Okada Manila is making this possible through its partnership with WET, an LA-based designer and maker of the grandest fountains in the most prestigious resorts and hotels across 20 countries in five continents.
WET used their creative and technical expertise to imagine and transform water, light, and sound into the largest dancing fountain in the Philippines. The extraordinary fountain complements the resort’s unique Y shape and it will be one of two stunning views (with the other being the beautiful Manila Bay) offered by the hotel’s rooms and villas.
“We cannot tell you how excited we were and we are still excited to be invited to participate in this project. The opportunity to come here to the Philippines with a world-class water feature and a world-class developer, we’re really curious about the way it approaches the society and the economy of the Philippines. It’s what we really, really love to do. We’ve done water features all over the world but it’s very rare that we get the opportunity to do one with a commitment like this from the owner, from the board of directors, the local contractors,” says Jim Doyle, director of design and technology at WET.
Doyle explains that The Fountain is one that is unique and spectacular and speaks volumes of Filipino culture and history. “That’s one of the reasons there’s color. We usually don’t do big features with color in them; this one is going to one of the firsts. We’re doing projections which will be able to paint colors into the sky, which we’ve never done before. I hope that we can stand up to the Filipinos’ expectations,” Doyle says.
“Our chairman, Kazuo Okada, is a visionary,” Wolstenholme adds. “When we looked at the design of the integrated resort, when we looked at the offerings, we wanted to ensure that there are a number of offerings that will create that wow factor. And really, when you look at the size and scope and scale of our building, I’m sure you’ve seen it, the fountain will project water 30 meters above the top of that building so this is something we’re extremely excited about. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing on the bay side or standing on the fountain side, you will see the exact same thing.”
A massive treat awaits everyone over at Entertainment City. And though there’s much to be done before it fully welcomes guests in the first quarter of next year, the property is shaping up to be one of the grandest destinations this part of Asia.