03/26/17

A Peek at the New Army and Navy Club

It’s been a long time since the Urban Roamer talked about the Army and Navy Club. If you missed it, you can check it out here. Since then, things have quieted down a bit, especially after the controversy that erupted regarding this building more than a couple of years ago.

Now, it seems the work on the renovation/restoration (sort of) of the Army and Navy Club is almost complete and we can finally what has been done to the building, for the most part at least. Was the work faithful to the original structure? Were there any abominable changes made? Let’s find out.

First things first, the edifice has been kept largely intact so it still basically retained the same layout as the original Army and Navy Club building. It is also noticeable that the trees that used to cover the structure have mostly been removed, or maybe it’s just the leaves that grew so much that it covered the structure, have been removed. Those people can now better appreciate its architecture.

With that said, the renovated Army and Navy Club made one significant change over the original, at least from what can be observed on the facade. It is that the second level windows are smaller compared to the original. To give you a better idea, below is the photo of the original Army and Navy Club:

image courtesy of NHCP Historic Sites blogspot site

And here is the renovated building:

From what I’ve gathered, the change was made so there will not be too much sunlight coming in to the building which would generate more heat than needed. Especially now in the time of climate change when the temperatures are now higher than they were a century ago. Honestly, while I understand that reasoning, maybe there could have been other ways to go with this. They could at least made the windows a bit bigger like somewhere between the original size and what we got today as a compromise. Instead the small windows somewhat “cheapens” the building, given its legacy. Then again, that’s just a cranky heritage geek talking.

Another thing that caught this roamer’s attention is the ongoing construction of a building at the back of the Army and Navy Club. I cannot be certain if this building will serve as a expansion of the original structure or if this structure is actually of the United States Embassy complex which is actually just behind the building. Perhaps some of you may know.

For now, I will withhold final judgment with regards to the work done to this building until it opens to the public. Unfortunately, no specific date has been given as to when that will be. For now though, the work so far has been interesting and the developers strived to stay true to the building’s architecture and history, for the most part at least. This makes it more interesting to see what the new Army and Navy Club Building has to offer once it reopens to the public.

 

03/19/17

The Rise and Decline of the Big Bookstores

From the mid-1990s until sometime in the mid-2000s, in the midst of the changing urban landscape that is sweeping across the metropolis, Manila went through what can be considered as a “golden age” as far as the bookstore industry is concerned with the rise of the so-called “big bookstores” in the metropolis.

At the forefront of this golden age were two giant bookstores: Powerbooks and Fully Booked. Competition aside, these two bookstore giants that have managed to transform not only the bookstore business, but also the landscape of the metropolis as well. After years of being used to the traditional “bookstore” that retailers like National Book Store has to offer, denizens began to discover what a true blue bookstore can be. Suffice to say, it was a fortunate era for the city’s bookworms, especially those belonging to my generation.

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03/12/17

The Church That Gave Birth to a City: The St. Peter and Paul Church in Makati

While the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church is considered as Makati’s oldest structure, it was actually not in that location where the Makati that we know today was born. In fact, during the time the aforementioned church was built, Makati as a settlement had not been established yet and was still considered part of the thriving Santa Ana settlement which used to be the site of the pre-Hispanic Kingdom of Namayan.

The beginnings of Makati can be traced in 1608 (or 1607 as said in the marker), when the Jesuits received a donation of land from Captain Pedro de Brito, a military officer of the Spanish Crown who originally bought what was then a vast hilly swampland along the Pasig River. The Jesuits would proceed to build a Catholic church in the estate, right near the highest point of the newly acquired estate, hoping not only to evangelize the people to the Catholic faith but also to entice people to settle in what was then a barren landscape.

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03/5/17

The Grace of Makati’s Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church

Hidden behind the dominating Guadalupe billboards and the emerging skyscrapers in nearby Rockwell, not to mention the urban congestion that has befallen the area, lies Makati’s centuries old gem. It is considered to be the oldest Catholic church located in the city and has become a cherished Makati landmark. You can even see it represented in the city seal.

The Makati city seal; note the image of the church in the foreground

This has long been an awaited feature on the Urban Roamer and finally, we are going to roam this landmark up close. Of course, I am referring to Makati’s graceful landmark that is the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church.

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02/26/17

A Madz Way of Learning Music: Checking Out the Madz Music Studio

Consider this Urban Roamer a fan of the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Ever since having heard them perform on video, then eventually in person at Pasinaya years back made that appreciation grow over the years. And if you are not convinced that the Madz (as the Philippine Madrigal Singers are affectionately called) are one of the best and most prolific choral groups in the Philippines (if not the world), then do check one of their many performances uploaded in YouTube and see for yourself, like this one:

Thus, to be part of this illustrious crop of singers that has been an institution in Philippine music since its founding at the University of the Philippines in 1963 is an achievement in itself that not a few young singers want to be part of. While not everyone can be part of Madz, now anyone who wishes to hone their talent to be on the same caliber at least as them now have a chance to do so with the opening of their new music school.

That’s right, the Philippine Madrigal Singers now have their own music school/studio in Eastwood City. Continue reading