SEA Games cauldron looks like a scaled down version of Mañosa’s 1996 Centennial Tower design

November 25, 2019 - 3:27 PM
2019 SEA Games Cauldron design
Digital rendering of the design for the 2019 SEA Games cauldron. (Photo from Mañosa Group of Companies via Gelo Mañosa/FacebookPhoto from Mañosa Group of Companies via Gelo Mañosa/Facebook)

The SEA Games cauldron in Tarlac has been questioned over the past weeks for its P50-million price tag. Now, social media identified its design to be a repurposing of an earlier proposal for a much larger tower erected supposedly in 1998 but remained on paper.

The cauldron will be used for the torch lighting ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian Games this 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, also the chair of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), defended the spending for the cauldron citing it to be the work of late National Artist for Architecture Bobby Mañosa.

On Facebook, meanwhile, the SEA Games cauldron is being juxtaposed as a smaller twin to the old design of what should have been a tower at Rizal Park in Manila. A certain Jozy Acosta-Nisperos shared an edited photo showing the controversial sports structure having the same features as Mañosa’s Philippine Centennial Tower concept.

“Look at the image. See the twisting lines? See the hexagonal crown? See the splayed base? Are you seeing double?” Nisperos said.


Posted by Jozy Acosta-Nisperos on Saturday, November 23, 2019


Columnist Boom Buencamino also observed that the needle-like feature in the old design was not present in the new tower. The materials have also been changed to suit the functioning of the cauldron.


Mañosa died at 88 years old in February 2019 “due to a lingering illness,” according to previous reports. He retired after having a celebrated career of over 60 years in 2015.

Social media accounts and the official website of Mañosa Group of Companies have not issued a statement on the cauldron to confirm whether the National Artist himself designed it. The design alone cost the government P4.48 million.

The 50-meter foundation for the cauldron, meanwhile, cost P13.4 million while the construction was P32 million.

Gelo Mañosa, a successor of the late great architect posted last month about being excited to see the cauldron come to life.

On Nov. 30 – Our Cauldron will take centerstage for the 30th SEA Games! 🙂 Am supper excited to see how it will all come together.

Posted by Gelo Mañosa on Wednesday, October 16, 2019



The P50-million budget of the cauldron had been the subject of inquiry by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, some athletes and other concerned Filipinos since last week.

A video from ABS-CBN on the interior of the tower holding the cauldron showed it as a hollow space ladened with gravel.

Duterte and Cayetano cited the design being Mañosa’s “work of art” as the reason for the high costs of the cauldron’s construction.

Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay), meanwhile, said that the allotted amount was “reasonable” but “Imeldific”—an adjective from the Philippines contributed to the English dictionary that refers to the ostentatious life of former first lady Imelda Marcos during her husband’s authoritarian government in the 1970s.

The Centennial Tower

Former President Fidel Ramos once proposed the building of a 389-feet structure called the Centennial Tower to pay tribute to the declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule.

According to a 1995 Associated Press report, the proposed budget for the project was $200 million to be shouldered by a German group.

Mañosa, who once assured the Filipino public that the tower will breathe a “second life” to Luneta Park, designed what would be a local landmark in the Philippine capital.

“It won’t desecrate Luneta. On the contrary, the Centennial Tower will enhance its status as the country’s premier park. It’ll mean a second life for Luneta, which for now has become a lair for criminals, vagabonds and other shady characters,” the architect once said in 1996, as quoted by the Manila Standard Today.

The initiative, however, was met with criticisms from the public and from some lawmakers including then-Senate President Edgardo Angara, whose son Sonny is now a senator who defended the budget for the SEA Games.

READ on Drilon questions P50-M SEA Games cauldron

The elder Angara, who passed away in 2018, called it a “monument of vanity.”

The tower would have been 390 meters tall, nearly the height of the former Empire State Building in New York City. Its base would have a diameter of 60 meters at the base and will look like a bamboo torch or sulo.