Saturday, April 16, 2016

Rediscovering Manila: The Walled City of Intramuros

       Intramuros (Spanish for "within the walls") is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, Philippines. It is also called the Walled City, and was once the seat of government when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire. It was settled in June 12, 1571 and founded by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish navigator. 

       Ever since I was a kid, I had always dreamed of exploring the Intramuros and see all those old buildings and ruins so that I can be reminded what life our ancestors had before. Below are must-see attractions inside the Intramuros.

One of the many entrances in Intramuros
Manila Cathedral
      The cathedral was originally the "church of Manila" officially established in 1571 by a secular priest, Juan de Vivero, who arrived in Manila Bay in 1566.De Vivero, the chaplain on the galleon of San Gerónimo, was sent by the Archbishop of Mexico, Alonso de Montúfar, to establish Christianity as the spiritual and religious administration in newly colonized Philippines. De Vivero later became the vicar-general and the first ecclesiastical judge of the city of Manila.

       Located at Plaza de Roma in the Intramuros district of the City of Manila, the cathedral was originally a parish church owned and governed by the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1571, until it became a separate diocese on 6 February 1579 upon the issuance of the papal bull, Illius Fulti Praesido by Pope Gregory XIII. The cathedral was damaged and destroyed several times since the original structure was built in 1581 while the eighth and current instance of the cathedral was finally completed in 1958. The cathedral is the home of the archbishop of Manila.

King Charles IV Monument
       At the center of Plaza de Roma is a monument to Charles IV of Spain which was erected in 1824 in his honor for having sent the first batch of smallpox vaccine to the Philippines.A fountain surrounding the monument was subsequently erected in 1886. However, in the 1960s, the monument was replaced with a monument dedicated to the Gomburza. In 1978, President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the restoration of the Plaza de Roma along with other sites in Intramuros. The work was completed by the then-newly established Intramuros Administration in 1980 and the original Charles IV was re-installed in the plaza in 1981. The Gomburza monument was subsequently relocated to the site fronting the National Art Gallery Building of the National Museum.

Ayuntamiento de Manila
       Construction of the Ayuntamiento began in 1599. The original building opened in 1607. After an earthquake damaged it severely, it was ordered demolished. The Ayuntamiento was rebuilt in 1738, in the Baroque style, with ornate wrought-iron balconies, covered arcades, and a central clock tower. This form survived well into the 19th century until it was destroyed again during the earthquake of 1863. Reconstruction of the Ayuntamiento began in 2009,with the building becoming the future home of the Bureau of the Treasury.

Palacio del Gobernador
       The Palacio del Gobernador ("Palace of the Governor") is a government building in Intramuros, Manila that currently houses the Commission on Elections. The site of the present building was where the former residence of the Governor-General during the Spanish Colonial Era was located until the until the Malacañang Palace was selected as the official residence.

San Agustin Church
       Augustinians decided to rebuild the church using stone, and to construct an adjacent monastery. Construction began in 1586, based on a design by Juan Macías. The monastery was operational by 1604, and the church was formally declared complete on January 19, 1607, and named St. Paul of Manila. Macías, who had died before the completion of the church, was officially acknowledged by the Augustinians as the builder of the edifice.

       In 1993, San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines. It was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976.

Cuartel de Santa Lucia
        Here once stood the Cuartel de Santa Lucia. Formerly housed the Artilleria de la Montaña, a Spanish artillery regiment and office of the Guardia Civil Veterana. Became first headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary in 1901 and was called the PC BARRACKS.

       Officer's school was opened in 1904. Moved to Baguio in 1908 to become the Philippine Military Academy. Destroyed in 1945. Site occupied by a government office before it was abandoned. Facade reconstructed in 1998 by the Intramuros Administration.

Fort Santiago
       Then I visited Fort Santiago, a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi. Our national hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned here before he was executed in Luneta. 
Fort Santiago full blog here.

Baluarte de San Diego
        In this baluarte is the oldest stone fort in Manila. Built in 1586, it was called the Nuestra Señora de Guia. Designed by Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeño. Fell into disrepair and renovated in 1593. Incorporated as part of the walls but later abandoned due to its unstable foundations.

       New baluarte constructed with orillons(curved corners) masking cannons on the flanks. Destroyed during the British invasion in 1762. Repaired and renovated in 1764. American army ordinance section built on site during American occupation.

       Destroyed during World War II. Fort Nuestra Señora de Guia was excavated in 1980 and is now a major attraction of the Walled City.

Baluarte de San Diego full blog here.

       Calesa is still visible in Intramuros. Calesa is a horse-drawn calash used in the Philippines. It was one mode of transportation introduced to the islands in the 18th century by Spanish colonizers, and was initially reserved for only nobles and high-ranking civic officials.These are today rarely used in the streets except in the tourist areas of old cities and some rural areas. Most tourists would prefer a calesa ride while touring around Intramuros.

One of the many fortifications in Intramuros
       These century-old walls will surely blow your mind. It's amazing  to see that they stood the tests of time for few hundred years now. I hope these can be preserved so the next generation can witness these wonders too.

Below are some of the buildings that caught my eye.

Kaisa Angelo King Heritage Center
       This is a mansion constructed in 1996. Although it was built in modern time, it is designed to resemble other buildings in Intramuros. It houses the Bahay Tsinoy (literally Chinese-Filipino House), a museum that documents the history, lives and contributions of the Chinese in the Philippine life and history.

       The museum was designed by Eva Penamora in collaboration with the late architect Honrado Fernandez in 1996, and completed and inaugurated in 1999. Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, Inc., a non-profit organization co-founded by Teresita Ang-See, envisioned the project to provide another venue for advocating patriotism to the Philippines and promoting cultural identity and understanding between the local Chinese and Filipino communities, after the acclaimed bi-lingual children's educational television program Pinpin in the early 90's.

Casa Manila
       Casa Manila is a museum in Intramuros depicting colonial lifestyle during Spanish colonisation of the Philippines.The museum is the imposing stone-and-wood structure c. 1850, one of the grand houses in Barrio San Luis (one of the four original villages of Intramuros) is located across historic San Agustin church and bounded by Calle Real, General Luna, Cabildo and Urdaneta streets. The other two are the Los Hidalgos, c. 1650 and Cuyugan Mansion, c. 1890.
T.M.I. Center

How to get there?
       If you're coming from south, take the LRT1 to Central Terminal station. Follow the LRT1 along A. Villegas until you get to Natividad Almeda-Lopez (2 blocks). Landmarks are SM City Manila, Manila City Hall, and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office. Turn right at Natividad Almeda-Lopez, and walk past Manila City Hall towards Padre Burgos (1 block). Then cross Padre Burgos towards Intramuros. You can also take a jeep to Lawton/SM City Hall, and get off at Manila City Hall. Cross the street using the underpass, away from Manila City Hall towards Intramuros.

       If you're from Cubao or North area, ride the LRT 2 line and drop off at Recto Station. Then walks towards Quezon Blvd and ride a jeep with "Pier" sign on it. And you can always take a cab if that is more convenient for you.

       At more than 400 years old, we're lucky that Intramuros still exists. The city is well-maintained and I hope the next generation will be able to witness these amazing structures too so they can have a glimpse of the past. While we let bygones be bygones, we should sometimes look at the past to understand the present day situations. -Jon-

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