This intriguing Russian aircraft in P'que is now a bar 2
The Mosphil Aero has been parked in this Lhuillier property for years. Now it can finally be experienced by the public as a bar. Photo by Patrick Mateo
Food & Drink

This mysterious Russian aircraft in P'que has been turned into a bar—but here’s its origin story

The plane was acquired in 2006 by a Russian-Filipino airline called Mosphil Aero which operated from Zamboanga.
JEROME GOMEZ | Aug 06 2022

It has long caught the interest of the curious, this aircraft parked on this three-hectare property in Parañaque​'s Los Tamaraos Village. When the Lhuilliers in 2018 finally put a name to the land on which it stands, just as the family unveiled the restored Spanish Colonial Revival mansion that is the centerpiece of the lot, the plane just became more intriguing. 

The Mosphil flight deck.
The Mosphil flight deck. Photo by Patrick Mateo

It was one among three planes the Lhuilliers got at an auction in 2010 initiated by NAIA 3 when it was expanding its runway, Camille Lhuillier told ANCX in 2019. The aircrafts were already in some sort of plane graveyard and the airport didn’t know what to do with them. “Funny story about that is my dad who was bidding on these planes,” said Camille, “next thing you know my brother calls him and says, ‘Dad, you know I’m bidding on some planes.’” 

The Antonov 24 B
The Antonov 24 B has been flying since the 1960s. Photo by Patrick Mateo

It turns out father and son were eyeing the same three aircrafts. 

How did the planes eventually turn up in the family’s Parañaque property? Well, there was no other place to park it back then, Camille says—it was the biggest space the Lhuilliers own that could accommodate these outsize acquisitions. The planes were transported to Los Tamaraos piece by piece on a truck, and at the ungodly hour of 3 or 4 in the morning. It even caused a major traffic jam when one of the fuselages fell on the highway.  

Allowing guests a peek at the vintage aircraft’s insides. Photo by Patrick Mateo

Easily the most intriguing of the bunch is the decommissioned Antonov 24 B, a Russian aircraft known to hold its own on “rugged trips, remote locations and working with minimal ground support,” according to the press information supplied by the Lhuilliers in late 2019. The plane was acquired in 2006 by a Russian-Filipino airline called Mosphil Aero which operated from Zamboanga and serviced the Zamboanga – Sandakan – Kota Kinabalu route.

Photographed in 2019 after its initial makeover courtesy of Monchet Olives and Angie Lhuillier. Photo by Patrick Mateo

“The initial flights were flown with Russian crew as the local Filipino pilots were on training,” stated the press info supplied by the Lhuilliers in 2019. “RPC-6705, its tail number, had the Zamboanga airport as its home. The airline closed down in 2009, and the airccraft was put on sale in 2010. Known as a tank among aircrafts, the plane is said to have been flying since the mid 60s, and was configured as a 50-seater passenger plane.” 

Photographed in 2019, the then newly refurbished comfort room. Photo by Patrick Mateo

The aircraft interior was refurbished in 2019 and transformed into a sort of gentleman’s lounge with a 60s Mod vibe. It was to serve as another attraction in what is presently known as Palacio de Memoria—at the center of which is the restored pre-war mansion where the Lhuilliers now showcase artworks and antiques for auction via their Casa de Memoria. More than two years later, the Palacio has collaborated with popular Poblacion bar Run Rabbit Run to bring Manila its first aircraft bar, Mosphil by RRR. 

The Mosphil at dusk. Behind it, the Palacio de Memoria. Photo by Jerome Gomez

Open Wednesdays to Sundays, it serves top notch cocktails exclusively created for the lounge like Manila International (passion tea infused gin, pineapple juice, lemon juice, coconut syrup and egg white) and Antonov 59 (Cognac, Cointreau, Maraschino, lemon, Peychaud and aromatic bitters) alongside classics like the Negroni, martini, Old Fashioned and Whiskey Sour. There is also a special menu focused on a different destination each month: right now the drinks are inspired by Italy. 

Cocktails by Run Rabbit Run at Mosphil. Photo by Jerome Gomez

The interior retains some of the touches introduced pre-pandemic but the aircraft feel has been enhanced by making way for a few plane seats. The space is good for 20 guests at a time, although admittedly that number may be a bit much considering the space and the health crisis we’re still in. There is an immediate outdoor area, however, where guests may opt to enjoy their drinks if the lounge starts to feel a little crowded.  

The Sbagliato for Italy month at the Mosphil. Photo by Jerome Gomez

Having sampled the Mosphil experience recently, we dare say it’s one of the best places to be in Manila at dusk—whether it’s enjoying a cocktail inside the fabulously lit aircraft, or outside delighting in the sight of a spectacular pre-war mansion against the backdrop of a changing sky. “Mosphil is an ideal spot to unwind and relive the period of a funky town Manila,” its menu says. For us, it’s just a cool way to drink in high style without ever having to leave the ground.