Saturday, March 24, 2007

Manila: Quiapo, heart of Manila

I just came from the book launching of Quiapo: Heart of Manila. The back cover of the book reads: "Quiapo district in the City of Manila is more than the Nazarene and Quezon Boulevard. It has excelled in painting, music, cooking and the arts. It harbors landmarks which are unique in the world. It is also neighborhoods in charming 1900s settings. In revitalizing the metropolis, Manila's centuries-old districts deserve as much care as the suburbs."

The welcome message of Dr. Fernando N. Zialcita, anthropologist and professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, really set the tone for the book and Quiapo as a unique district. And it would be a pity if I did not feature excerpts here since it was very informative and at times, intriguing. Here are some interesting parts of his speech:

"If Quiapo were in Melbourne, the rich and famous would be scrambling to live in it." These are the words of Dr. Trevor Hogan, an Australian sociologist who taught some courses in urbanism at the Far Eastern University over five years ago and who loved the streets, alleys and corners of Quiapo. I run the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista center for culture in Quiapo. We get visitors from the different embassies, like the Spanish and French embassies, who come on their own. Employees in the Department of Tourism tell us that they now get many requests for information on Quiapo.

But why Quiapo? Isn't it dirty, polluted and crime-ridden? Why do foreigners enjoy exploring the side-streets?

The heart of major cities abroad is not the shopping mall, not the gated communities but districts like Quiapo, where the rich, the middle class and the poor mix together, where your place of work is close to where you live, where the streets are lively throughout the day, and where there are beautiful historical landmarks.


In addition, there are experiences unique to Quiapo. Calle Hidalgo may now be disorderly; but it still points like an arrow to San Sebastian Church. "The street is like a stage-set" exclaimed a young Italian architect. Calle San Sebastian may be a small winding street. But it has beautiful 1920s mansions over which San Sebastian rises. On special days, the entire church is lit up. If you walk around the district, you will find inspiring scenes. For instance, between the accesorias decorated with ornate balusters and grilles, you will find patios where neighbors exchange stories while sharing steaming arroz caldo.

Quiapo is where different cultures meet. The bells of Quiapo Church alternate with the sacred call to prayer at the Golden Mosque. On another street, the Ocampo Pagoda shows off Japanese icons: carp for strength, a turtle for long-life, a dragon for Imperial majesty. You can enjoy this mixed experience only in Quiapo, the heart of Manila which is the heart of the Philippines. One of the many reasons we wrote the book was to show that if Quiapo were more orderly, it will be a showpiece.

Indeed, Quiapo is a showpiece. I finally got to walk along Hidalgo Street which Butch Zialcita had always been telling us about. For the longest time, there had been plans to revitalize the street as a heritage district which was supposed to be spearheaded by the Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU) located along the street. But that was ages ago.


Several years have passed. The fabled and historic Enriquez Mansion, the birthplace of the UP School of Fine Arts which was housed there from 1909 to 1926, had already been ripped out of the heritage street and transferred to that property in Bagac, Bataan leaving a large empty space in what would have been the centerpiece of the heritage street. But there is still hope if we act fast. And I hope the professors there get their acts together and start working to rehabilitate their area the same way that the Far Eastern University made a great effort to clean up and prepare a rehabilitation plan for Nicanor Reyes Street and its environs.

I missed the program at the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista along Bautista (formerly Barbosa) Street where an exhibit on Juan Nakpil, national artist for architecture, was opened. The house was designed by equally renowned architect Juan Arellano for Dr. Ariston Bautista and his in-laws, the Nakpil family. I came just in time to catch the group which included Butch, restoration architect Mico Manalo, Manila streetwalker Ivan ManDy, and bloggers Sidney Snoeck, Eric Isaac, Tito Basa among many others out of the heritage house, down Hidalgo Street (which was formerly known as Calle San Sebastian) towards the current Calle San Sebastian where the book launching was going to be held.

The street actually has several American-era houses, among them the Yturralde House, which Butch mentioned was once used as the consulate of Monaco.

Sadly, from a cultural event, it had turned into a campaign rally of the Lord Mayor of Manila. Students from the Unibersidad de Manila were there in full force serving as Lito Atienza's overacting cheering squad. Every time his name was mentioned, or when Atienza referred to the kabataan ng Maynila (youth of Manila) or UDM students in his speech, they would erupt in a choreographed applause and shout out the name of Atienza in chorus. After the program, I found out why they were there: students were scrambling to sign attendance forms! Poor kids, being used for political purposes. It was funny because the real guests, those who would have gone even if they weren't forced to attend, just sat silently every time the group of students would erupt in applause. So who did the mayor's "spin doctors" fool? Definitely not me.

Anyway, I hope that while he is not busy campaigning for his son, the mayor reads the copy of the book which Butch had given him so he would know what real heritage conservation is all about. After I got Butch to sign my book, I left in a rush since I had to catch a family dinner in Libis. Now I’m home preparing for my finals week next week. Time for me to get back to my school work.

Check out my interview on the Philippine Blog Awards in The Four-eyed Journal.

Related articles
New book relives old Quiapo

Enriquez antique mansion goes kaput!

Heritage watch
Palawan wildlife trade: an alarming issue


SSEAYP 2007
Application for SSEAYP 2007 is ongoing. This is open to all Filipino citizens, 18 to 30 years old on April 1, 2007. Download the forms here. Deadline for application is April 30, 2007.

27 comments:

  1. Anonymous25.3.07

    finally your blog has been approved for directory listing at the Pinoy Bloggers Directory.

    tnx.

    Southern Leyte Blogger

    ReplyDelete
  2. [...] Many fellow bloggers attended these series of events such as Sidney Snoeck, Ivan Mandy, Tito Basa, Ivan Henares [...]

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  3. It was nice to have met you again. Too bad you disappeared before dinner courtesy of the Belgian Consul ;-)

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  4. Oh, and good luck with your finals!

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  5. Yeah, I heard from Eric. I would have enjoyed that dinner but had another dinner to catch. I was filled to the brim with Japanese food that night. Hehe!

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  6. Thanks for sharing the article on Quiapo. It brings me back memories of the good old days when I was a student at the Mapa High School was located at Hidalgo Street. How could I ever forget those narrow those places mentioned in the article and the famous gothic San Sebastian Church that I passed by almost every morning before I go to school which was just across the street. Kindest regards. Erom

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  7. Hi Ivan,

    Everone was asking for you at Bahay Nakpil-Bautista; great you showed up!

    Good idea to post Butch's speech :)

    We missed you at the dinner table :(
    You're right ... it was Manolo Noche!

    Good luck at the PBA!!!

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  8. I made a wrong turn in Sampaloc and it delayed me for at least 15 minutes. Oh well! At least I made it just in time for the walk around Hidalgo Street. :)

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  9. Anonymous26.3.07

    i thought the heart of manila is intramuros... haha.

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  10. Haha! I guess where Manila's heart is will depend on who's talking. But the Quiapo proponents have made a strong stand with their book. Hehe!

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  11. hi ivan!


    where is the book available?


    spanx!

    proud yahoogroup owner of:

    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/quiapo_dvd/

    ReplyDelete
  12. I lived in Quiapo for a while and san sebastian church was my haven all the time I lived there. Thanks for featuring it. It's such a magnificent work of architectural marvel. It's seemingly cold exterior belies the warmth it affords everyone who comes inside. I truly loved/love that church.

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  13. hi ivan... i sent you email, re: Philippine Blog Awards.

    ReplyDelete
  14. hi. i sent you email re Philippine Blog Awards..

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  15. thanks for sharing. hey! where can we grab the book and how much is it?

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  16. I think it's available at the Met Museum. Call 521-1517, ask for Rose or Nelda.

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  17. [...] Ivan Henares does a good good job of reporting on the book-launching of the Zialcita-edited Quiapo, so I won't report that part here. [...]

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  18. Spanx, did you get my e-mail re: San Fernando Fiesta?

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  19. ei ivan, nice to meet you in quiapo thou I, too, had to make an exit too early. I also can't stand the Atienza claque and those poor students

    the belgian consul, the real one, squirmed when the mayor's name was mentioned.

    btw, there's another blogger stalking all of you :)

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  20. Tell me about the Lord Mayor! Who's stalking?

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  21. Anonymous29.3.07

    Hi Ivan,
    It always warm my heart,that people like you never lose hope on our culture,be it architecture or whatever.We are on the losing end and I feel so helpless,hearing all this stupid things politicians like Mayor Atienza is doing to our endangered heritage and cultural sites.(sorry but I have to call spade a spade.)But you can count me in.I may not be as illustrious as your CV(just kidding!)but I'm ready to help in any way I can.Keep it up.Never say die,for our culture, for our identity,for our country,specialy for ourselves as Filipinos!
    your volunteer allie
    alex etcuban
    Essex,England
    (aetcuban@yahoo.com)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi. We sent you the e-Ticket for the Philippine Blog Awards 2007. Please show this at the registration table. You will then be given two entrance tickets: one for you and another for your guest. If you have not received your e-Ticket or have any questions please email philippineblogawards [at] gmail [dot] com. Best of luck to you and your blog. See you there!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yes, I got it. Thank you!

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  24. i do believe that Quiapo indeed is the heart of Manila.. this is where you'll see what this city is made of... i gotta say that i fell in love with this place as much as i love my own district, Sta. Ana.

    best regards to you at PBA.
    it's really nice to see people like you who exerts effort in preserving the filipino culture and promoting those sites.(o^_^o)

    keep it up!

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  25. congratulations for bagging this year's award in the travel category. i really enjoy reading your posts. all the best to you!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anonymous4.5.07

    Dear Ivan,
    I just read you comment on the reconstruction of the old Augustinian Seminary. Thanks.
    By the way you may like to know that we are offering a SEMINAR/WORKSHOP on the significance of the "palitada" at San Agustin Museum on May 17 & 18. It is a very important seminar, especially for church administrators and owers of historical buildings. Please pass the word around. You are invited to attend. Your presence will mean a lot to the participants.
    Cordially,
    Fr. Pedro G. Galende

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous4.5.07

    Dear Ivan,
    I just read you comment on the reconstruction of the old Augustinian Seminary. Thanks.
    By the way you may like to know that we are offering a SEMINAR/WORKSHOP on the significance of the "palitada" at San Agustin Museum on May 17 & 18. It is a very important seminar, especially for church administrators and owers of historical buildings. Please pass the word around. You are invited to attend. Your presence will mean a lot to the participants.
    Cordially,
    Fr. Pedro G. Galende

    ReplyDelete

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