MANILA, Philippines--CLAUSTROPHOBES WILL NOT like the idea, but most out-of-towners will find the latest incarnation of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority?s home away from home -- in a box.
For only P25, laborers, vendors and even white collar workers in need of a place to stay the night in Tondo can soon have their own private sleeping space with all the comforts of an economy seat on board an airplane.
But unlike the first Gwapotel Inn on Bonifacio Drive in Port Area, Manila, which has double deck beds, the second facility will feature ?capsular beds,? inspired by Japan?s capsule hotels, a type of cheap accommodation unique to that country.
?Of course, Gwapotel will be a cheaper version,? architect Alfonso Romero, head of the MMDA Construction Equipment and Maintenance Office, said.
The MMDA hopes to complete construction and renovation of the inn located in the heart of Tondo?s residential and commercial zone on Jose Abad Santos Street by May.
The design, said artist Jojo Pinga, is based on Tokyo?s capsule hotels where guests stay in a small sleeping space that comes complete with amenities like a reading light, a TV set, and so on.
It was MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando who thought of introducing the novel type of accommodation to the Philippines after seeing an example of the capsule hotel on a recent trip to Japan, Pinga said.
?Enviable private space for Gwapotel guests? was how Romero described the idea of building capsular beds instead of the usual double deck beds at the inn.
Another way to put it, as an MMDA press release said, was to compare the hotel service to the on-board amenities of an economy seat on a plane.
Priced at just P20 for overnight lodging (add P5 for a shower), guests can sleep in an air-conditioned room with three-deck capsular beds equipped with good lumbar support, Romero said.
Transients who check in at Gwapotel can ?just doze off, simply relax or read newspapers and magazines in their capsular beds,? he added.
According to Romero, the beds will be equipped with a tubular control panel for an individual spotlight for reading, as well as for the air-conditioner or thermostat adjustments.
There?s piped in music, too, he added.
As of this writing, a fiberglass model of the capsular bed was still under construction, with Fernando making several adjustments and changes along the way, Pinga said.
?Chairman Fernando wanted to change almost 80 percent of the design, so we need to work on it for a few more days,? he told the Inquirer. He said he expected the prototype to be finished soon.
This early, Pinga expects criticisms hurled their way. ?Some people will probably describe them as refrigerated coffins,? he said.
But he takes this in stride, saying the MMDA would do its best to ensure that the beds would be conducive to a good night?s sleep.
Construction and renovation work for the second Gwapotel has started in the abandoned 2,800-sq m Emmanuel Hospital on Jose Abad Santos Street, Romero said.
Although Tondo is not known for peaceful neighborhoods, Romero said the site, a mix of residential households and commercial establishments, hosts a peaceful community.
But to ensure the safety of guests in the inn, roving security guards will be posted on every floor of the building, he said.
Renovation for the hospital building alone is expected to cost P10.7 million, he added.
Emmanuel Hospital, through the Privatization Management Office of the Department of Finance, has agreed to rent out the old building to the MMDA for P200,000 a month, Romero said.
For this purpose, a memorandum of understanding was signed recently by both parties.
The hospital has two separate structures?the main hospital building and an annex which used to house the canteen and nurse quarters.
Normally, the main building can accommodate 240 people while the annex can accommodate 245 more.
But with capsular beds in place instead of the usual double deck beds, the Gwapotel Inn can accommodate 800 people ?at any given time,? Romero said.
Just like in the original Gwapotel, women guests will be separated from the men, he said.
MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno said the decision to place the next Gwapotel in Tondo was based on the availability and accessibility of the building, as well as the number of people it can serve.
Fernando said the inn could help ease traffic in the densely populated district since workers in the area?s warehouses and industrial firms could opt to stay the night in Gwapotel instead of going home.