Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Intramuros is where the heart is

The northern entrance to the fabled Walled City via the Baluarte de San Gabriel. On the other side of the arch is the Dominican Colegio de San Juan de Letrán founded in 1620. Photo from Filipino eScribbles.

In October, a breath of the north stirs Manila, blowing summer’s dust and doves from the tile roofs, freshening the moss of old walls, as the city festoons itself with arches and paper lanterns for its great votive feast to the Virgin. Women hurrying into their finery upstairs, bewhiskered men tapping impatient canes downstairs, children teeming in the doorways, coachmen holding eager ponies in the gay streets, glance up anxiously, fearing the wind’s chill: would it rain this year? (But the eyes that, long ago, had gazed up anxiously, invoking the Virgin, had feared a grimmer rain—of fire and metal; for pirate craft crowded the horizon.) The bells begin to peal again and sound like silver coins showering in the fine air; at the rumor of drums and trumpets as bands march smartly down the cobblestones, a pang of childhood happiness smites every heart. October in Manila! But the emotion, so special to one’s childhood, seems no longer purely one’s own; seems to have traveled ahead, deep into time, since one first felt its pang; growing ever more poignant, more complex  a child’s rhyme swelling epical; a clan treasure one bequeaths at the very moment of inheritance, having added one’s gem to it. And time creates unexpected destinations, history raises figs from thistles: yesterday’s pirates become today’s roast pork and paper lanterns, a tapping of impatient canes, a clamor of trumpets…”

Photo from Hecho Ayer.

Intramuros smites our hearts an alluring appeal of vintageness. Not exactly of nostalgia but of some inexplicable "I've-been-here-before" feeling. It's not even déjà vu but simply a sentiment of homely attachment. With its old walls, the architectural design of its antiquated buildings and churches, and the overall structural planning of its streets and plazas, one can easily say that Intramuros is really home and grand, the atmosphere truly Filipino.

Intramuros is not just ours, but US.

Recently (October 19), me and Yeyette took our kids to another walking tour of the Walled City. Another, because we have been to the place many times already. And our kids love it each time. I always remind them that Intramuros is the country's prime city, the premiere hub, the granddaddy of 'em all. Every country has a nucleus, and Intramuros is where present-day Filipinas originated. I guess there should be no more argument or further discussion about that.

Puerta de Victoria leading all the way to Calle Victoria (formerly Calle de la Escuela because of the Escuela Municipal de Manila found at the beginning of the street). Both gate and street were named after the Spanish ship that was part of the now famous five-carrack Fernando de Magallanes expedition. Victoria was the sole survivor of that ill-fated but epoch-making expedition and was the first ship to circumnavigate the world, thus living up to its name: Victory!

But what is rarely known today is that Intramuros was once a city of magnificent churches. Seven were the churches of Intramuros, but only two remain standing today (another was once in ruins for decades but is now being reconstructed). Four years ago, and armed only with a cellphone camera, me and Yeyette made a rather odd visita iglesia of these churches. But it was just the two of us. This time, we tagged our four gems along.

We were like historical detectives, puzzling pedicab drivers and cocheros as to what exactly we were looking for (of course these folks don't know much about the five lost churches of Intramuros). They have been aggressively enticing us to take a ride with them for a paid tour of the Walled City which we continuously declined as we preferred to travel on foot. We really didn't need guides because whenever we visit the Walled City, we always bring along with us a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s highly informative book Intramuros (published in 1988) which was edited by the late great National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquín. Besides, I've been to Intramuros many times as a kid. I know the place like the back of my hand.

Nick was a true-blooded Manileño born and bred. He had witnessed so much about the final living years of Spanish Intramuros. Most of Nick’s works are a fine testament of how the Filipinos, particularly the Manileños within and without the Walled City, lived and breathed their everyday Intramuros lives. And if we only had our way, we will revive everything that used to be in the original capital city. Because that’s simply the way it should be. Period. No amount of restoration will bring back Intramuros's old glory as long as the seven churches aren’t made complete by the Intramuros Administration, the local Catholic Church, and the Philippine Government. In the words of Nick, “Intramuros was a collective high altar formed by its churches.” We should bring back that altar to give true meaning to Intramuros.

Although it wasn't Holy Week yet, we opted to do our visita iglesia on an October because that month was considered as the most festive in all of Manila during the Spanish and US colonial periods. The reason is because the commemoration of the La Naval de Manila, with all its grand processions and other related festivities which used to enliven the place, is no longer celebrated there. Well, October in Manila is not that festive anymore nowadays, but we thought of keeping up with tradition; during the old days, provincianos visited their city relatives in time for that sacred October festival. And since we're Lagunenses, we thought of doing the same, hehehe!

Anyway, before I bore you to death, let our family guide you, through our family photos and the nostalgic account of Señor Joaquín, to a reenactment of a forgotten visita iglesia itinerary of the seven great churches of Intramuros (including some historical stopovers).

* * * * * *

1. LA IGLESIA Y CONVENTO DE NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LOS ÁNGELES & LA CAPILLA DE LA VENERABLE ORDEN TERCERA DE SAN FRANCISCO DE ASÍS (The Church and Convent of Our Lady of the Angels & the Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order)

Photo from Nostalgia Filipinas.

Entering through Victoria Gate and going up Solana, you reached San Francisco, which was a double church, for beside the main one (its creamy pillared façade rose five stories high) was the V.O.T., the chapel of the Franciscan third order, where was venerated a crowned St. Louis robed in ermine.

As we were headed towards our first church, we passed by the entrance to the Mapúa Institute of Technology, the country's número uno training ground for future engineers. Mómay and Jefe at the foreground.

Mómay beside bilingual historical markers of Tomás Mapúa, the school's founder and the country's first registered architect.

La Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asís.

The site where the Church and Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi used to stand is now occupied by the Mapúa Institute of Technology.

La Capilla de Santa Rita de Cascia inside the Mapúa campus now stands on the very site where the Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order used to be. Interestingly, the wife of the school's founder was named Rita Moya de Mapúa. Makes us wonder to whom this chapel was really named after: the saint or the wife?

The Order of Friars Minor, better known as the Franciscans, was the second friar order to arrive in Filipinas. The first batch of them arrived on 24 June 1578, exactly seven years after our country was founded. They were assigned a lot northeast of Intramuros where they built their stone church and chapel that were perpendicular to each other (that is why Nick described them as a "double church"). After several metamorphoses, both church and chapel were totally destroyed during the bloody Battle of Manila in 1945. After the war, the Franciscans sold their property to the Mapúa Institute of Technology. Nothing more remained of the ruins.

* * * * * *

2. LA IGLESIA Y CONVENTO DE SANTO DOMINGO DE GUZMÁN (The Church and Convent of Saint Dominic)

Photo from Nostalgia Filipinas.

At the end of Solana was Santo Domingo, magnificently gothic and rose-colored, with a side portal opening out to the Plaza de Santo Tomás.

On our way to our second church, we passed by the Lyceum of the Philippines. Founded in 1952 by former President José P. Laurel, it is the only university that was founded by a president of the republic (at least, perhaps, in Filipinas). I was offered a scholarship here (AB Journalism) but opted for Adamson University instead. No regrets; otherwise, I would have never met my wife, and the Alas Family would have never existed.

Behind Krystal, Jefe, and Mómay is the Colegio de Santa Rosa. Founded in 1750, it is one of two remaining original schools inside the Walled City (the other being the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán). Teodora Alonso, the mother of Dr. José Rizal, is an alumna of this school which was once exclusive for girls. It now accepts boys which I find somewhat amusing (dunno why).
Yeyette, Jefe, and Krystal traversing Calle Solana en route to the original site of the Santo Domingo Church. The name Solana refers to the title Marques de la Solana of Juan Antonio de Urbiztondo y Eguía, the 73rd Governor-General of Filipinas (1850-1853) and the conqueror of the Archipiélago de Joló (Sulú Archipelago). Without his exploits, Joló wouldn't have been part of our map.

Calle Anda was named after the heroic Simón de Anda, our 47th Governor-General (1762-1764) and a personal favorite of our family friend, Filipinista blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz. Anda was then the country's leader during the British occupation of Manila, giving the invaders an awful headache all throughout their unwanted stay here. And unlike General Douglas MacArthur during the Japanese invasion, Anda never left our country and decided to stick it out and fight the enemy. Now that's a true leader. Hindí nang-iiuan. Unlike that "I shall return" character.

Monument of Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P. at the Plaza de Santo Tomás. Benavides, the third Archbishop of Manila, was the founder of the Universidad de Santo Tomás, the country's first university which used to stand in front of this plaza. After the war, the school was moved to its present site, in flood-prone Sampáloc.

The original Universidad de Santo Tomás used to stand here.

La Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

The Bank of the Philippine Islands and the Bureau of Internal Revenue behind it now occupy the former site of the neo-Gothic church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Yeyette's favorite among the seven. It was the first casualty during the Japanese invasion. A new church dedicated to Santo Domingo de Guzmán is now in Quezon City.

Plaza de España.

Did you know that our country is the only one that was named after a Spanish monarch? Yep, Las Islas Felipenas was named after Rey Felipe II (King Philip II)...

...and part of Jefe's name (Jesús Felipe) comes from him. ☺

This photo of my family would have been a classic had only the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán was still there instead of that bank.

Examining the old walls of the Aduana.

The Manila Times at the Sitio Grande Building. Having been founded in 1898, it is the oldest existing English language newspaper in Filipinas. Its former office was at the nearby Port Area. It was already drizzling and nearing lunchtime when I took this photo... there's no other choice but to stay here for a while, the nearest restaurant when it started to pour hard. It's just beside The Manila Times.

When looking for first-hand information about Intramuros, Nick's the go-to guy.

The Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominicans, was the fourth friar order to arrive in the country. Fifteen of them arrived in Ciudad de Cavite on 21 July 1587 and arrived in Intramuros four days later. Their greatest architectural masterpiece was, of course, the neo-Gothic wonder that was the Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán. It was the first casualty during World War II — Japanese soldiers mercilessly bombed it on 27 December 1941. Somehow, this church was fortunate because it never witnessed a much more harrowing massacre: 1945's Battle of Manila. But more providential still was that its most celebrated possession, the now 420-year-old ivory image of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila, was saved. It is now kept in the new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City. Meanwhile, in Intramuros, the buildings of both the Bank of the Philippine Islands and the Bureau of Internal Revenue now stand on its original and sacred foundation.

The new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. It is now known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval de Manila.

* * * * * *


Photo from

Crossing this plaza and passing the university, you came upon the Cathedral, which had wide porches instead of a patio, iron-grille balustrades and, just inside the entrance, a small bronze statue of a seated St. Peter whose toes had been worn smooth by the kisses of the faithful.

The rain has stopped although it was still drizzling. We resumed our search for our third church which is...

...the famous Manila Cathedral! Our excited kids ran towards the fountain in front of it.

In front of the Manila Cathedral is Plaza de Roma, named in honor of St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City. This plaza was once called Plaza de Armas. Bullfights were held here during the 1750s, but it didn't become a hit among Manileños (they preferred cockfights!).

The bronze statue of King Carlos IV in Plaza Roma was installed in 1824 as a tribute to him for bringing into the country the first smallpox vaccine. The vaccine saved countless lives. Smallpox was then a deadly disease.

Yeyette and Krystal has just apprehended a guardia civil!

The throne of the Archbishop of Manila is inside this centuries-old holy edifice.
A Latin inscription at the cathedral's tympanum, dedicated to the Virgin Mary: "We consecrate to your Immaculate Heart and entrust to you for safekeeping."

Unfortunately, we were not able to enter. The Cathedral is under renovation as of this writing. It has been closed since February 7 of last year, exactly a day after Manila's 434th year of separation from the Diocese of México. We learned that the Cathedral will be reopened on December 8 of this year, just in time for the feast of the Immaculate Conception to which it is dedicated.

Krystal and Yeyette.

Juanito, Mómay, and Jefe.

La Catedral Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción de Manila.

The Palacio del Gobernador was once the enclave of the Spanish governors-general of Filipinas. It toppled down during the Corpus Christi earthquake of 1863. Since then, the official residence of all leaders of the country was transferred to the Palacio de Malacañán which was once a summer residence.

A view of the Manila Cathedral from the left side of the Palacio del Gobernador.

In 1571, Governor-General Miguel López de Legazpi himself chose the location of the church and placed it under the patronage of Santa Potenciana. The first church was made only of light materials. Actually, the Manila Cathedral that we see today is already on its eight incarnation, the "Manila Cathedral version 8", because it has been destroyed and rebuilt eight times. During the Battle of Manila in 1945, it was badly damaged, especially its façade. It was only in 1954 when reconstruction began. It is one of only two churches (the other one was San Agustín) which survived that horrendous war. Then as now, the Manila Cathedral is the "Mother Church" of all churches of Filipinas as it is the primatial see of the country: the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.

* * * * * *

4. LA IGLESIA DE SAN IGNACIO DE LOYOLA (The Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola)

Photo from Noble and Ever Loyal City.

Past the Cathedral, a left turn at Calle Arzobispo brought you to San Ignacio, wedged between the Ateneo and the episcopal palace; very high iron grilling enclosing the narrow court that formed a portico to this red-brick church, also known as Jesuitas.

Palacio Arzobispal.

The ruins of the San Ignacio Church was our fourth stop. We were surprised to see that it's undergoing reconstruction. I didn't know if I was going to be happy about what we saw that day. Are the authorities involved going to bring back the church? Or are they constructing a whole new building?

Hmmm, it seems that the Intramuros Administration is going to bring back the neo-classical church all right. But not exactly as a church. Oh well...

Let's check out what's going on inside...
La Iglesia de San Ignacio de Loyola.

Photo from Filipino eScribbles.
I didn't know why, but I had an uneasy feeling with all this reconstruction of the place going on. Were they going to be faithful to the original? I certainly hope so. Meanwhile, my sons Jefe and Mómay still had no idea how very historic and sacred this place is as they were running around the site. On this photo, below the scaffolding, are the old adobe stones from the original structure.
San Ignacio Church was a red-brick beauty. It even inspired my wife to be an enthusiast of old red bricks. Now, pieces of those old bricks are scattered everywhere at the site as the reconstruction progresses. When asked if those bricks will still be preserved or used during the reconstruction, the carpenters and the guards there have no idea. So I ordered Krystal to take one sacred piece home just in case the Intramuros Administration makes a wrong move of throwing them all away.
Yeyette is so thrilled to have touched more than a hundred years of historical stones and bricks!
Pieces of embedded shell bits. Were some of these stones taken from the nearby shore?
Little Juanito and his guardia civil friend in front of what will soon be the Museo de Intramuros (just the thought of it pains me; why not just revive the church?).
At the garden in front of the Department of Tourism's Clamshell Tent where the Ateneo Municipal de Manila (Rizal's alma mater) used to be. Our alma mater, Adamson University, also used this site before transferring to its present location in Ermita after the war.

The Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, were the third to arrive in the country, on 17 September 1581. The Jesuits are not friars but clerks regular. However, they have been bundled together with the other friar orders who came to Filipinas during the Spanish times. Their first headquarters inside the Walled City was the eastern portion of Calle Real but later transferred to Calle Arzobispo. They built their church there from 1878 to 1889. Thus, when it was destroyed in 1945, it only lived for 67 years. In fact, Mass was not celebrated there anymore during the three-year Japanese occupation of the country. After more than half a century of being in ruins, we found out that its being reconstructed. However, not as a church but as a museum.

Photo from Filipino eScribbles (taken four years ago).

* * * * * *

5. LA IGLESIA Y CONVENTO DE SAN AGUSTÍN (The Church and Convent of Saint Augustine)

Photo from Nostalgia Filipinas.

At the end of Arzobispo was San Agustín, with its double convent: the main monastery beside the church and the separate business quarters (or procuration) adjoining the Ateneo.

Caminando a través del tiempo (Calle Real).
Our fifth stop in our Joaquinesque itinerary was the world-famous Iglesia de San Agustín. Officially known (yet not popularly) as the Iglesia y Convento de San Pablo, it is the first church in Filipinas (founded in 1571). The first structure was made of light materials but was destroyed in various conflagrations until it was decided in 1586 to build a church made entirely of stone. Construction began a year later and was completed in 1607. San Agustín was also the last church standing inside the Walled City right after World War II.
The old monastery which now houses the San Agustín Museum.
My three boys with one of the church's iconic stone lions.

May casalang iniháhanda sa aming muling pagdalao sa camañghá-mangháng iglesiang itó.

San Agustín Church usually takes out its rare 18th- and 19th-century chandeliers only during weddings and other special occasions.
The funny looking upside-down pineapple underneath the pulpit. You shouldn't miss it!
Jefe touching the centuries-old pulpit. It has been here since 1627! From this pulpit resounded the sermons of many famous Augustinian friars such as Fr. Salvador Font, Fr. Baldomero Real, and Fr. Nicolás López.
The church's intricately designed domed ceiling (using trompe-l'œil murals), still intact for centuries.
The main altar featuring the image of Saint Paul. This church was actually placed under his titular patronage. Thus, this place of worship should be technically called Iglesia de San Pablo. However, the name Iglesia de San Agustín stuck because the church was founded and run by Augustinians up to this day. San Agustín is the patron saint of the Augustinian Order.
The Puerta de las Gracias located to the left of the main altar. It has the year 1866 above it. On that year, the Archbishop of Manila, acting as military vicar of the Philippines, chose this church as the recipient of the flags and standards of the recently de-commissioned Tenth Castillian Regiment and the Second Cavalry Squadron. These regalia were turned over after sung mass on 28 June 1866. They remained hanging from the walls of the nearby Capilla de Consolación (also inside the church) until the end of Spain's rule. This filigree iron gate may have been commissioned to commemorate the events that transpired on 1866. The fanciful designs of the gate are: a heart transfixed by an arrow (an Augustinian symbol), right above the transom; faces of the sun and moon flanking the arrow-transfixed heart, and; six-pointed stars dominating the central panels. This gate leads to the San Agustín Museum. Whew, what a caption!

✿◕ ‿ ◕✿
With a visiting seminarian (I forgot from which order).
The double-headed eagle is another Augustinian symbol.
Jefe beside the marble tomb of our country's first leaderel adelantado Miguel López de Legazpi (1502-1572). It is located to the right of the main altar. Several Filipino families and individuals who were hiding from Japanese cruelty died inside this room when —ironically— a bomb from US soldiers hit it. That bomb created a gaping hole on the wall of the San Agustín Church, the only major damage that it incurred during the last war. From that bomb blast, only around five people survived.
Me and my family have nothing but UTMOST RESPECT for this gentleman. ¡Un gran saludo a usted!

Inside the Capilla de la Asunción where the remains of Jacobo Zóbel y Zangróniz and Antonio de Ayala are buried. Jacobo was a former mayor of Manila, polyglot (he spoke eleven languages!), scholar, renowned numismatist, pharmacist, construction magnate, businessman... whew! This guy's the man! Antonio was his father-in-law; Jacobo's wife was Antonio's daughter Trinidad. Together, Jacobo and Trinidad started the illustrious Zóbel de Ayala clan. At ang súsunod sa canilá, "Alas de Perey", ¡hehehe!
At the floor of the church between the church entrance and the Chapel of the Assumption.

The main entrance to the San Agustín Museum.
We're coming in, but only at the lobby because we need to visit two more non-existent churches.
I've been to this museum twice or thrice, but solo. I'll come back here with the whole family and we'll feature this place on our return trip to Intramuros. Just stay tuned!

The parish office at the museum lobby. We're happy to see that they have retained the spelling instead of resorting to that awful "Parokya" version.
La Iglesia y Convento de San Agustín.

The cobbled Calle Real del Palacio right beside the San Agustín Church. The name was changed to Gen. Luna in honor of the fiery General Antonio Luna. But many people, most especially the heritage-conscious, still prefer the original name.
Sa guilid ng iglesia (Calle Real del Palacio).
Calle Santa Potenciana is the oldest street in Intramuros. It was named after Santa Potenciana, a Roman virgin of the early Christian church. This photo was taken at the rear wall of the San Agustín Church. Notice the original ancient engraved name of the street above the modern tiled lettering!
Jefe checking out vagrants playing Chinese checkers at the corner of Calle Real del Palacio and Calle Santa Potenciana.
The Order of Saint Augustine were the first friar order to have arrived in Filipinas. They were with the Magallanes expedition of the 1520s. In 1565, they accompanied the highly successful Legazpi expedition. They were also with the Spanish expedition to Manila, then a semi-Islamic fort, in 1571. Upon conquering Manila for the King of Spain, the Augustinians were accorded a place of honor there: in midtown, overlooking Manila Bay. From that spot rose the oldest stone edifice in the country today: the San Agustín Church. As it was the first church in Filipinas, miraculously it was also the last church standing inside a devastated Intramuros right after World War II, sustaining only minor damages. Thus, much of the marvelous art and treasures that we see inside that church today remain authentic. No wonder it is a World Heritage Site.

Photo from Filipino eScribbles (taken four years ago).

6. LA IGLESIA Y CONVENTO DE SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTINO (The Church and Convent of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino)

Photo from Nostalgia Filipinas.
Going down Calle General Luna and turning left at Calle Escuela, you found yourself at the Recollects’ Iglesia de San Nicolás, least visible of the Intramuros shrines, and with a cobbled patio in front and along one side.

Traversing the Walled City's most ancient road, Calle Santa Potenciana, in search of our sixth church. The street's not that ancient-looking anymore.
Instead of turning left to Calle Escuela —now known as Calle Victoria— we instead went straight to Calle Recoletos which is nearer the church we're looking for. The street was named after the Orden de Agustinos Recoletos, the mendicant reformist offshoot of the Augustinian hermit friars who arrived in our country in 1606. Their church and convent used to stand along this street.

La Iglesia y Convento de San Nicolás de Tolentino.
Walled side of Calle Recoletos. Within those walls are found the main office and printing press of the Manila Bulletin where the church and convent of San Nicolás de Tolentino once stood.
Calle Muralla, in front of the Manila Bulletin office.

Muralla in English means a defensive wall or rampart.

The main entrance to the Manila Bulletin. On this site once stood the Church of San Nicolás de Tolentino which was totally destroyed during the last war. A few seconds before this photo was taken, Yeyette said that she felt something strange while gazing at the building: a cool breeze blew upon her which relaxed her whole body (but it was very hot that afternoon). She couldn't explain why, but for a split second, she felt as if she was inside the church, seated relaxedly in one of its pews. Talk about weird. Anyway, the whole place —actually, all the places where the other non-existent Intramuros churches once stood— we still consider as HOLY. Because those grounds are consecrated, where countless Masses were held in the past. We do not forget.
Because you're standing on consecrated grounds.
Next day's issue of Manila Bulletin already off the press.
The Order of Augustinian Recollects were the last to arrive in Filipinas during the Spanish times. They disembarked in Cebú in late summer of 1606 and arrived in Manila the following month. They first stayed in Bagumbayan (the site of today's Rizal Park) before moving to where the Manila Bulletin head office is now located. There they built their church with a convent dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. Their convent served as the primary convent for all Recollects not only in Filipinas but also in Japan, China, and the Marianas Islands. After the war, the ruins remained intact for many years. But authorities chose to demolish it instead of having it rebuilt. In 1976 (the year Yeyette was born), the Manila Bulletin bought the lot where once proudly stood the Recollect shrine.

Source: Nostalgia Filipinas

* * * * * *

7. LA IGLESIA Y CONVENTO DE NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LOURDES (The Church and Convent of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Photo from Noble and Ever Loyal City.
Turning right on Recoletos and doubling back on General Luna, you reached Lourdes Church, or Capuchinos, youngest of the Walled City’s temples, with a painting of the Virgin on its façade.
Little Juanito at the entrance to the Baluarte de San Andrés, named after Saint Andrew, Manila's patron saint. It is sometimes referred to as Baluarte de San Nicolás because of its proximity to the Church of San Nicolás (this place is just behind the Manila Bulletin building). This bastion was constructed to support the old Puerta Real nearby.
The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila takes pride as the first tuition-free institution of higher learning in Filipinas and perhaps in Asia. It was created by the Philippine Congress by virtue of Republic Act No. 4196. It was one of the last laws promulgated by then outgoing President Diosdado Macapagal (signed on 19 June 1965 during Rizal's 104th birth anniversary). It is located along Calle Real del Palacio corner Calle Muralla.
The Silahis Arts and Artifacts and the Ilustrado Restaurant to the right now occupy the former site of the Lourdes Church and Convent of the Capuchin friars, the last church in our Joaquinesque itinerary.

The Dawn. Since 1984.

The Gusaling Corazón Aquino of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. Here once stood the Cuartel de España (fronting the Lourdes Church and Convent). In its gym was where the popular sport of basketball was first introduced to the country by the US.

La Iglesia y Convento de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes.

Behind Krystal was where the Lourdes Church and Convent used to stand.

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes was an enclave of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, an offshoot of the Franciscans. Their church was the youngest of all the churches in Intramuros since its chapel was built only in 1892, or four years before the Tagalog rebellion of Andrés Bonifacio. The church was originally dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Divina Pastora (Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd). It was only in 1898 when a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes (carved by Manuel Flores) was enshrined there. The church and convent were destroyed during the Battle of Manila, but the statue was saved. The place was not taken care of anymore. Today, the Silahis Arts and Artifacts and the Ilustrado Restaurant occupy its hallowed ground. Nothing more remains of its ruins. However, the statue still exists; it is now in La Loma, Quezon City.

Photo from Nostalgia Filipinas.

The new Lourdes Church is located in La Loma, Quezon City. The original statue of Our Lady of Lourdes that was carved by Flores was transferred here in 1951. The church is now officially known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. We'll visit this church one day, of course. Photo from National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes (Wikiwand).


These legendary churches are not the only treasures of Intramuros (although they are, by far, the most precious). Within its storied walls are other heritage sites, most of which are in various states of ruin and disrepair. Perhaps the most conspicuous among them right now is the Aduana, the country's first customs house. In English, aduana literally means customs. It later became the Intendencia during the US occupation. Intendencia on the other hand means administration. This is because the building served as the first headquarters of the Philippine Senate. It was on this very same building where a young Manuel L. Quezon held office when he was elected as the country's first Senate President in 1916. Heavily damaged after the Battle of Manila, the building was revived for use by the Central Bank but has since been abandoned during the year of my birth after an accidental fire.

Stupid me, I forgot to take pictures of the Ayuntamiento. So here's a photo of the building from With One's Past taken a few months ago.

The Aduana/Intendencia's counterpart or rival was the Ayuntamiento (literally city hall in English), a Renaissance wonder to the right of Plaza Roma and the Manila Cathedral, and whose façade fronts Calle Cabildo (the street's name is denotative since Cabildo is a synonym of Ayuntamiento). The original structure was built in 1599. During the Spanish times, it was used by an appointed mayor and an elective municipal council which exercised authority throughout the Walled City as well as its arrabales (districts) such as Binondo, Tondo, Quiapò, and the rest. When the US took over, the Ayuntamiento became the seat of the Chamber of Representatives (the forerunners of today's "beloved" congressmen) which was then headed by Speaker Sergio Osmeña, Quezon's fiercest rival. It was left in ruins for years right after the war. Thankfully, the whole building was given another chance for survival when it was restored recently. It now houses the Bureau of the Treasury. I just hope that the Intramuros Administration in particular and the Philippine Government in general will find ways of restoring the equally historic Aduana/Intendencia the way they restored the Ayuntamiento.

Well, I'm not about to recount here a detailed description of each and every historic building or rampart of the Walled City. This blogpost has gone too long already, haha! I just wanted to emphasize that, as mentioned already, Intramuros has so many treasured sights and wonders. They may be damaged, but they are still there! If it was possible to restore the Ayuntamiento as well as the San Ignacio Church, then it is not impossible to do the same to whatever that is still there that is worth restoring. Intramuros is a virtual time machine that is worth saving!


After a tiring walkatour, we immediately proceeded to Fort Santiago via calesa because we were to meet with —of all people— my online nemesis: controversial tour guide Carlos Celdrán!

We took a calesa in Calle Anda beside the Palacio Grande Building. Calesas, carruajes, and the like were the mode of transportation within the walled city during the Spanish times. Yeah, we know. Palacio Grande's just walking distance from Fort Santiago. But we're really dead tired from too much walking from morning till mid-afternoon.
Let the Cross be our guide. ☺

Nuestra llegada.

Now, some of those who patiently follow my rantings in my "highly cerebral" (Jim Richardson's words) and "chick-magnet" (my words) blog Filipino eScribbles (and that's about three or four of them... no, maybe five or six, LOL!) know my online scuffle with Carlos. It all began with what I thought were his hispanophobic and pro-US comments proliferating in his paid tours. The unfriendly exchanges heated up when he started attacking Church doctrine regarding birth control. From time to time, we exchanged tirades in social media. The attacks came mostly from me especially since he's a celebrity and I'm not. He didn't know me at the onset. And I enjoyed attacking him because the guy responds, LOL! But little by little, it dawned upon me that attacking him is next to useless because that won't change a thing at all. It was pointless, to say the least. I was merely wasting my time and his.

When news came out that he was to be imprisoned for up to 13 months because of what he did inside the Manila Cathedral, I felt glad. However, after a couple of days, I had a change of heart: his imprisonment might only make him another "martyr-victim" at the Church's expense. So with much hesitation, I signed up an online petition to defend him. To my mind, I thought it is better to have him sentenced instead to a year of public service, probably as a sacristan at the Cathedral (or even cleaning up restrooms inside the Walled City, LOL!).

Anyway, that move of mine became the spark of a friendly dialogue between us. So to make a long story short, I accepted an invitation of his to attend his highly popular "If These Walls Could Talk!" tour for free.

Plaza Moriones. Waiting for Carlos's tour to start.

The tour begins.

And yes, it was our first time to meet each other in person. The meeting was very cordial but brief because the tour was about the begin. And dozens of people were waiting. After introducing my family to him, we started to walk his way...

I noticed a lot of foreigners in the walking tour that afternoon (who may or may have not heard anything good or bad about Manila). Good tidings.

Carlos leading tourists inside the historical gate of Fuerza de Santiago. Commonly known in English as Fort Santiago, this impressive-looking fortification was named after Spain's martial saint, Santiago Matamoros, "Saint James the Moor-slayer", who is one of our Lord Jesus Christ's apostles (and the son of Zebedee). A very fitting name for the fort because Rajah Solimán, the former leader of the site before the Spanish advent, was Mohammedan.

Walk this way!

Mómay tracing the bronze steps commemorating Rizal's final walk towards the Bagumbayan where the National Hero was executed via firing squad. The steps were installed in 1996 in celebration of the centennial of his death. Unfortunately, most of these bronze steps, particularly those outside the fort, were stolen by street urchins and gutter punks.

During this brief but emotional presentation inside a "bomb shelter" in Plaza Moriones, here I finally realized that Carlos and I are actually fighting for the same cause (but from different perspectives): the defense of the Filipino Identity.

Free halo-halo from Carlos and La Monja Loca!

Capping off the walking tour.

¡Gracias por el paseo gratuito, Señor Celdrán!

The tour brought us not only to Fort Santiago but also back to the San Agustín Church (where we were just moments before) and Bárbara's. Along the way, the attendees were treated to a theatrical but splendid storytelling of the Walled City's colorful history. And Carlos's humorous way of conveying his message made an otherwise boring subject more riveting.

Although I was carrying a weary (and heavy) Juanito throughout the walking tour, I was very attentive to his lines especially since he told me online that he had already changed his script. The incipient cause of our misunderstanding was his misrepresentation of US accomplishments in Philippine History to the detriment of our much nobler and more productive Hispanic past. Well, Carlos did not entirely change the lines that I found unacceptable (heck, I'm not his boss anyway), but the hilarity of it all, i.e., his seeming acquiescence towards US achievements in our country, was toned down. And I also realized that he was not exactly siding with or against our Hispanic past. Truth to tell, he was glorifying Intramuros whenever he mentions its seven great churches. And boy, did he mention them emphatically which were music to my ears! He even became emotional when he lamented the loss of Intramuros —probably the climax of his lecture (it moved Yeyette to tears) to a war that was never our undertaking. Whatever imperfections we see in Manila today, we can readily point out to the last war. Because, indeed, Manila was never able to recover after that...

Simply put: nothing much can be said about hispanophobia nor US-centrism in his walking tour of Intramuros. Whenever Carlos Celdrán brags that he's trying to change the way we look at Manila, he is telling the truth.

I imagine myself as a first-time tourist to Manila, attending his walking tour. And then I get the picture as to what Manila was and why Manila is like this today.

After the tour, we exchanged more pleasantries. Carlos turned out to be a very humble and cordial caballero, very far from the belligerent Carlos Celdrán we see in the media, but not without losing his trademark exuberance. In spite of his stature as a celebrity (not to mention the nasty name-calling we threw against each other in social media), he was even the one who initiated a photo-ops with my family.

This does not mean that I will be supporting him all the way. One thing that we might never come into terms with is our differing stand on reproductive health. But I'd rather not discuss that anymore. The most important thing is that, in his words, we both found common ground: a paramount love for Intramuros and a yearning for our glorious Hispanic past. As for his Catholicism (yes, he is still Catholic), well, he still has a long way to go.

We parted as friends.

Click here for more photos of our Intramuros tour!


Me and Yeyette at the patio of Casa Manila.
Baluarte de San Francisco de Diláo.

What exactly did we accomplish in our Intramuros tour? Although in essence our tour of Intramuros was a "pasyál" meant to make our "apartment-imprisoned" kids happy, what I had in mind was something else for them. Our Intramuros tour was not a mere pasyál or paseo but a walk through time, an educative experience (a spiritual one, even), and a show of respect and reverence for the Walled City's sacredness. Our kids, particularly our three boys, may not understand yet everything that they saw or heard. But I hope that our day tour of the Walled City, Manila's "holy of holies", will make a lasting impression in their young minds.

That we can NEVER move forward without looking back towards our time-honored past. Because our hearts are there, inside the Walled City, the heart and soul not only of Manila but of the whole country.

Jefe, Mómay, Juanito, and Krystal at the Puerta de Parián.



TRIVIA! Intramuros was actually Manila itself — the original Manila. Although it was founded as the capital city of the newly founded Indias Orientales Españolas, or technically the Philippine Islands, on 24 June 1571, it is not considered as the first city of our country because Cebú was founded much earlier: sometime in 1565. However, Manila (or Intramuros) was preferred to become the new Spanish territory's capital and was the only city in our country which received the royal title "insigne y siempre leal" (distinguished and ever loyal) from the Spanish Crown. Today, Intramuros is merely a district of a now expanded City of Manila (currently led by Mayor Joseph Estrada).