Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Inside the Walls: Intramuros, Manila

Perhaps, to say that Intramuros is the focal point of Manila during the Spanish times would be an understatement. Indeed so much have happened from within its imposing walls, more or less depicted today as it would have been prior to the damages brought about by the Second World War. It has one of the fortresses of world fame, several school campuses with its students being heroes of the revolution, and even our national hero.This particular Back Trail is not exhaustive, perhaps informative at best. For in looking back, this trip has just been a side-trip, having no other particular thing to do after a science conference. Let me leave out for the present the general details of Intramuros and bring on the ones about this trip of ours.

* the gate of Sta. Lucia

* a view of a portion of Intramuros showing the gate of Sta. Lucia
(from philippineamericanwar.webs.com)

* I was wondering what the inscription was, for it seemed to me that it was quite unreadable, or is that the photo does not have good resolution?; I could only fill some of the letters: C-A-L-L-E-D?-S-O-R?-E?/R?-another letter-O?; I don’t know, maybe I’m just not exerting effort to figure this out, help chance reader!

Although we have been to Intramuros on numerous field trips during the elementary days, I do not remember anything at all from it (except perhaps the cell in which Rizal was imprisoned there). We enter the gate of Sta. Lucia which faces Manila Bay, found between, as the marker says, on the corner of the streets Real and Sta. Lucia. It was constructed in 1781 by an engineer by the name of Thomas Sanz, during the tenure of Governor Generals Basco and Vargas. It was destroyed during the Second World War and later restored.

* I remember my thoughts very clearly while I was walking by this particular door: that it was a good door with magnificent design, never knowing that it was actually part of San Agustin Church

* a shop of some sort just across the church of San Agustin

* Trailer Pransis looking up the façade of the church

First stop: the church of San Agustin. Marker says it is the oldest stone in the Philippines. Maybe indeed, for it was completed in the long-past year of 1607 and has been successively under the supervision of the Augustinians. What must have been open knowledge about this church was that it was spared from destruction during the wars of the early twentieth century. The remains of the well-known conquistadores such as Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, and Juan de Salcedo (who explored parts of Laguna which facilitated their Christianization) lie inside the church.

* a detail on its front doors, took a particular liking to this one as it recalls to me the fictitious magician Merlin, (fusion of religious and not-so-religious concepts in a Catholic church?; let us see…quite interesting)

* one of the virgins inside

* the tombs inside the church itself

* a view of the interior of the church

* the patio in front of the church

* Plazuela de Sta. Isabel, Memorare Manila 1945; perhaps a remembrance of a plaza that once existed there?

A certain tale of pride is in order here, from the pages written by Teodoro Agoncillo. The baroque altar of the church was sculpted by a kababayan, a San Pableño, by the name of Juan de los Santos.

* a calesa which is commonly found roaming the streets of Manila, available for locals and tourists alike, but the fare is somewhat costly I believe

* the interior of the Manila Cathedral

* details on the door of the Manila Cathedral

* a view of Manila Cathedral from the outside; it can be observed that there was a capping ceremony of some sort for nurses when we took our visit

Next stop: Manila Cathedral. This one has not been quite lucky like San Agustin Church, despite the seeming proximity between the two. It was completely destroyed at close of the Second World War and has just been restored to its former structure. It might be recalled that one of the conditions Aguinaldo gave in exchange for some arrangements with the Spaniards concerning the Truce of Biyak-na-Bato was the singing of the Te Deum at the Manila Cathedral. The recently well known detail about this cathedral is perhaps the wake of Former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino there, something that is afforded only to the bishops of Manila.

Indeed, there are so many things to dig in within the walls of this place. It is a personal hope that a near-future revisit, and an all-out tour would be granted, if time and resources would permit it.


  1. Just stumbled upon your blog. Very nice blog! I'm enthusiastic about our past too and I love visiting old places such as these.

    I find the doors of San Agustin fascinating. The Merlin like figure in the door is actually St. Augustine. and her Mother, St. Monica is on the other door.

    Love the fusion of eastern and western influence in this church. Very unique and truly our own!

  2. Thank you for the info Yanni. :)