The Manila Boat Club is the oldest existing club in Manila and its founding dates from 1895. The Club of those years was situated on Manila Bay on what is now Roxas Boulevard.

In the course of its existence, the club has moved four times. The first movement took place in the early part of the present century to the north bank of the Pasig River at Calle Nagtahan, Santa Mesa. In 1909, the Club transferred to the Isla de Provisor where it remained until the end of 1918. The land on which the clubhouse stood was then required for other purposes and it was rebuilt at Nagatahan. Use was soon being made at regattas however, of the 2”straight” at Santa Anna, the same regatta course as is used today. A feature of regattas at this time, discontinued soon after, was the provision of a free bar.

Throughout the ‘twenties, the Club was on the lookout for a new site and finally at the end of 1931 an arrangement was made to lease the property upon which the Club now stands. A bond issue was floated to raise Php 7,000 for erection of a clubhouse and the building was completed and declared open on July 30th 1932. Just over two months later, a general meeting was held in the new premises to constitute the Club as a corporation.

Housed in the new facilities, the Club went from strength to strength. At the end of 1932, there were 76 members in Manila of whom 61 were active oarsmen.

Regattas were held just before Christmas and again in the spring and races were rowed against the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the Canton Rowing Club and the Royal Navy. Competition between representatives of different firms regularly and enthusiastically took place while the highlight of each major regatta was always a mixed banca race. The Club grounds were finally purchased outright in February, 1938, and the rowing activities continued up to the outbreak of the Pacific War in December, 1941.

The prospects of the Club which greeted members on their return after the Japanese Occupation, was a most discouraging one. The boats had been destroyed and the other equipment of the Club had vanished. The clubhouse was severely damaged as a result of a nearby explosion and the roof was blown away. Repair of the building and replacement of boats and equipment were estimated to cost Php 20,000

By 1950, repairs had been completed and six boats, two clinker sculls, two clinker pairs and two heavy fours, were on the water. A number of companies generously assisted in the rehabilitation activities. Two light fours, two shell pairs, three light sculls and two tub pairs were soon added to bring the boats to their present day strength.

In the fifteen years to 1975, the rowing strength and fortunes of the Club fluctuated greatly. A major achievement of the period had been the admission of school races as regular events at regattas. A regular Interport Series against the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club was commenced and tup to 1975 there have been six meetings between the two clubs. In 1966 the Club acted as host club at a Far East Amateur Rowing Association regatta and the Club was represented at a further FEARA regatta in Hong Kong late in 1972. During 1970, the club was represented at the Sydney Rowing Club Centenary Regatta and the Australian National Championships.

The Club opened its first squash court – and also the first in the Philippines outside the military bases – in July, 1970 and this created a great deal of interest in club membership. A second court was opened in July 1971 and a third in November, 1972. Many of the 300 or so new members since 1970 have also taken to rowing so that, today, more Filipinos are numbered amongst the ranks of rowers than ever before.
The Club’s fleet of 15 craft was boosted during 1973 through the purchase of three more sculling boats. The new boats – the first purchases for almost 20 years – reflected the new spirit in the club’s rowing activities at that time.

These boats plus the old boats served the club well during the next nine years.

In late 1981 Kurt Lenherr, Vice Boat Captain, devoted a month of his vacation to acquiring boats from various Swiss rowing clubs. History repeated itself when seven boats – an eight, two fours, three pairs and a scull – and assorted equipment were donated.

The donors were Grasshopper Club Zurich, Seeclub Kuesnacht, Seeclub Zurich, Ruder Club Thalwil, Nordiska Roddfoereningen Zurich, Staempfli Boatwharf Zurich and Ruder Club Zurich.

In addition an annex was built to house the overflow of boats. What is most impressive is that the club members donated over Php 35,000 to finance the building of the annex and boat transportation. This strong support of the members reflects well on the spirit of our club. Those almost new boats along with major renovation of our fifty year old clubhouse went a long way towards ensuring the continuance of rowing at Manila’s oldest club - until that is the Asian crisis came. Then membership levels plummetted. It was hard to find members with the time or inclination to dedcate tehmselves to such a reduced membership and the finances became very unstable.

By the early 2000's it was a close run thing if the Club would survive.