Friday, March 09, 2007

Manila: Inside the walls of Intramuros

Since I had been driving around for two straight days, I decided to take it easy today. So aside from waking up late, our destination for the day was just within Metro Manila. I had some business to take care of in the Padre Faura area which was great since Intramuros was just a stone's throw away. Carly, another member of our delegation, met up with us there.

Of course, a must visit is the San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the only church in Intramuros left standing after the Second World War. Indeed, the church is a splendid example of Philippine Baroque with its trompe l'oeil murals. The San Agustin Museum houses some of the best examples of Philippine church treasures. But it looks like the San Agustin Complex will be the next issue in the ongoing Intramuros controversy since they plan to erect a modern-looking monastery! And we all thought that the sports complex was the only desecration we had to worry about in the walled city.

Anyway, after our tour around San Agustin, we walked across the street to Casa Manila, a museum that showcases the opulence of a home in Intramuros during its heyday.

Our last stop was Fort Santiago, another Manila icon which tourists should not miss. Walking around what was once the seat of power of the Pearl of the Orient filled me with a lot of thoughts, especially when you know what we had and how much we lost during the war. Manila was as charming and as elegant as any major European city. And all was lost because of some stupid military tactic that eventually flattened the city to the ground.

That's why it pained me to look at the sports complex behind the Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago. I finally saw this monstrosity of a project with my own two eyes. And all I could ponder on was why our government is filled with idiots and dimwits who could even think of perpetuating such a travesty.

Let's keep these walls alive! I'm definitely keeping my eyes on the developments regarding the sports complex and that modern monastery they plan to build in San Agustin. Only a vigilant Philippine nation can prevent more damage to our endagered cultural heritage.

Intramuros updates
Ex-tourism chiefs protest Intramuros construction

Ex-PTA chiefs want Barbers sued for Intramuros project
Former PTA heads demand Barbers’ resignation
Intramuros a warehouse?
PTA’s illegal designs on Intramuros


  1. Anonymous17.3.07

    Wow! I'm impressed with your blog, and it really makes me happy that there are people like you who are doing their best to preserve the cultural heritage of our country. Please let me know how I can be a member of the Heritage Conservation Society. My email address is Thank you very much, and I will do what I can to support your cause.

  2. Thanks John Paul! I sent you the form via e-mail.

  3. Anonymous17.3.07

    Very nice blog, really.
    Please visit our blog if you have time, about Prague.

  4. I'm also impressed with your blog also Ivan. I'm a Filipino organist (born and raised in Australia) and was recently in the Philippines. San Agustin is not only the oldest surviving church but also contains the oldest surviving pipe organ in the Philippines. It was built in the Spanish Baroque style by Fr. Diego Cera (who was also responsible for the Bamboo Pipe Organ) and completed in 1814 (Some of the pipes also date to the mid 18th century). The organ was restored in 1998 by Diego Cera Organ Builders and Fernando Acitores. Our country is filled with wonderful historic Pipe Organs. I was privileged to have been able to play on many of these beautiful instruments but was shocked to find that there were very few organists that understand how to play these instruments. One of the best ways we can continue to preserve the cultural heritage of our country is to train musicians and organ builders to maintain these instruments that remain so that they can be preserved for future generations.

  5. Yes, that's right. There are still a great number of pipe organs all over the country, especially in the provinces.


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