Sunday, July 30, 2006

Manila: The walled city of Intramuros before the war

We have been trying influence many of the local government leaders and the clergy to adopt heritage conservation practices to preserve the character of our own cities and towns. But add to the fact that so much was already lost during the Second World War which is why we have to be more aggressive in protecting what's left.

To illustrate my point, I will hark back at the good old pistaym days when Manila was in its heyday. In Intramuros today, there are only two churches left, namely the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church. In fact, the Manila Cathedral that is standing today is a reconstruction of the original one and only San Agustin was unscathed during the war.

Before the war, there were at least nine of these grandiose and gargantuan churches within meters away from each other. These included the Manila Cathedral, Santo Domingo Church with the original main building of the University of Santo Tomas beside it, the Jesuit Church of San Ignacio beside the Ateneo de Manila (it was said that "there was so much wood in the church that it took all of four days for the conflagration to consume the buffet of tropical hardwoods – narra, tindalo, magcono, molave – cut from the mountain fastness of Surigao and transported to Manila seven decades previous), San Agustin Church, the Franciscan Churches of San Francisco and the Venerable Orden Tercera which were right beside each other sharing the same plaza, the Capuchin Church of Lourdes, the Augustinian Recollect Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino and the San Jose Church.

And those were just churches. I did not even touch on smaller chapels, colleges and universities, religious institutions and government buildings. Oh yes! We had ostentatious and elegant palace-like government buildings in Manila! And that was just Intramuros. The districts outside the walls such as Binondo, Santa Cruz, Ermita, Malate and San Miguel where equally charming as well.

Indeed, Manila was as beautiful as any European city. But we lost everything, centuries of work, in just a matter of days during the liberation of Manila. Sadly, unlike Europe which was also devastated mind you, we did not rebuild many of these monuments to Filipino craftsmanship and excellence. And all we could do now is sigh and say "Sayang!"

11 comments:

  1. augustomrgonzaleziii@yahoo.com30.7.06

    Yes, Ivan, those Intramuros churches were beautiful and they formed the spiritual core of Old Manila.

    There are PreWar photographs of those churches in all their glory during "fiestas" ["en fete" so to speak] in the personal collection of Joey Panlilio; he inherited them from an uncle. These have probably been turned over to the Archives of the "Museo De La Salle" in Dasmarinas, Cavite.

    Many oldtimers remember the elegance of the PreWar "La Naval de Manila" procession at the Santo Domingo Church... Mrs. Bebe Virata [Marie Theresa Lammoglia - Virata] remembers that "La Naval" was an occasion to wear a new "terno" and jewels to match. Manila Society was present in full force, in full regalia, during the evening novena and the procession [but only for "La Naval de Manila," otherwise, the affluent congregated at the elegant San Ignacio Church]. Mrs. Betty Gonzalez [Beatriz Favis - Gonzalez]remembers glittering receptions given after the procession at grand houses in the posh Taft Avenue area.

    But that was then... :|

    ReplyDelete
  2. overtureph31.7.06

    Hello Ivan,

    You mentioned San Jose church in Intramuros, I'm not familiar with this church and I don't recall any reference to it. Was this the old Jesuit church (I believed this was located at a different location) that the San Ignacio church replaced? If not, where was San Jose church located and what religious order was affiliated with it?


    And also, I wonder why the religious order did not rebuild their churhces in Intramuros again.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw San Jose Church here: http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about_cultarts/comarticles.php?artcl_Id=112

    I'll try to find a copy of that book and include the photo in the collage I made.

    Sad to say but for some reason, the orders left Intamuros and built churches in newer districts of Metro Manila.

    The Dominicans are now in the present site of Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City; Franciscans moved to Sanctuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park; the Jesuits are now in Loyola Heights with their newly built Church of the Jesu.

    I'm not sure if the Lourdes Church in Sta. Mesa Heights replaced the one in Intramuros. The Recollects are now in Congressional Subdivision, Q.C. but they still have the San Sebastian Church.

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  4. Ivan, this is not about Intramuros but an alert to conservationists like yourself about what is about to happen to the Galaxy Theater, designed by architect and National Artist Pablo Antonio. Located on Rizal Avenue, formerly the country's theater row, the Galaxy is being prepared for demolition next week.

    The Avenue Theater down the street, designed by another National Artist Juan Nakpil, was demolished about a month ago to make way for a parking lot.

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  5. Hi Howie, nice of you to drop by. Yes, I wrote about it last month as soon as we found out about it from Richard Bautista of the NCCA. While Atienza is mayor, there is nothing much we could do unless the city council passes protective measures through an ordinance or the NHI declares it a historical landmark.

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  6. Anonymous29.3.07

    I grew up inside Intramuros,I know her walls buildings and churches has got something to do with my identity as a person.It is lamentable that this very important part of our heritage is treated as a mere old stuff that,any wannabe dictator! este,Mayor pala,can easily be demolished with one single signature.tsk,tsk,tsk.Kawawang Manila.Kawawang ako.

    your allie,
    alex etcuban
    Essex,England

    ReplyDelete
  7. I get depressed whenever I look at those old pictures. How I wish those churches still stand today. It's such a gem. Manila could use some of that to boost its tourism.

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  8. enrico del rosario bella16.4.09

    Hello Ivan. My name is Rick Bella and I am an avid Intramuros fan. Reading through the tales of Nick Joaquin about the bygone Walled City never fails to leave me with bittersweet enchantment. The haunting images of the lost grand city just came alive again when I saw your collage of the old Intramuros churches. If it would not be too much to ask, would it be possible for you to share a copy of this collage with me for my personal collection. I hope you will say yes...it would mean so much to me. My email is rickdrbella@yahoo.com. I will be looking forward to a reply from you sometime soon. Thanks very much and Godbless!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous1.11.10

    True, Intramuros is enchanting. It concretizes the conviction that we Filipinos have a storied past. I like to believe though that the Walled City isn't just the churches; it used to be one unique community with grand residences replete with stories from centuries ago; it used to be a community of people with a lifestyle so different from elsewhere. I lament the loss of the grand churches and chapels of the Walled City but I mourn for the old houses as well. Although the Intramuros Administration ought to be congratulated for insisting that new constructions in the enclave must adhere to the Spanish colonial style, it seemed to have forgotten that Intramuros architecture was a class in itself so building a Vigan-type bahay na bato in the area would be as anomalous as raising a circa 1950's split-level house in the middle of Vigan's mestizo quarter. As it is, Intramuros today has become a mish-mash of diverse Spanish-style housing tradition and bespeaks of that general lack of historical sense that plagues us as a people.

    ReplyDelete
  10. With all due respect sir. I think there are only 7 churches in intramuros, 8 if you count the VOT Capilla.
    1. Manila Cathedral
    2. San Agustin Church
    3. Santo Domingo Church
    4.the Jesuit Church of San Ignacio
    5. and 6. the Franciscan Churches of San Francisco and the Capilla dela Venerable Orden Tercera which were right beside each other sharing the same plaza
    7. the Capuchin Church of Lourdes
    8. the Augustinian Recollect Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino

    NOTE: The third order was established by Fray José de Santa Maria in the Franciscan convent in Intramuros. The reason why some mistakenly had the Capilla dela Venerable Orden Tercera called as Iglesia de San Jose.

    ReplyDelete
  11. With all due respect sir. I think there are only 7 churches in intramuros, 8 if you count the VOT Capilla.
    1. Manila Cathedral
    2. San Agustin Church
    3. Santo Domingo Church
    4.the Jesuit Church of San Ignacio
    5. and 6. the Franciscan Churches of San Francisco and the Capilla dela Venerable Orden Tercera which were right beside each other sharing the same plaza
    7. the Capuchin Church of Lourdes
    8. the Augustinian Recollect Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino

    NOTE: The third order was established by Fray José de Santa Maria in the Franciscan convent in Intramuros. The reason why some mistakenly had the Capilla dela Venerable Orden Tercera called as Iglesia de San Jose.

    ReplyDelete

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