06/26/17

Manila’s Reclamation Dreams

As Manila just celebrated its 446th Araw ng Maynila last June 24, it was an opportunity for some to reminisce about Manila’s glorious past while bemoan the city’s sorry state at present. But if you ask the administration of Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, things are going to be great for the city once again.

Of course, we have been hearing this thing before, multiple times in fact to the point of being cynical and pessimistic whether things will be better for Manila. What is new though is Estrada’s plans to make this a reality. And that plan is: reclamation. Lots of it.

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06/20/17

Infra Manila: The Mega Manila Subway Project

With so many infrastructure developments going on in the metropolis, especially in light of the government’s current “Build, Build, Build” program. It is but proper that the Urban Roamer spotlight these projects, whether they are planned, under construction, or completed, and how they have changed/will change the metropolis’ landscape

This article is long overdue. But things got in the way and, originally, the intent was to discuss all the “Build, Build, Build” projects. But as things developed, it made sense to focus on one of the most ambitious projects (if not the most ambitious) in the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration: the Mega Manila Subway.

The idea of a subway in Metro Manila was something being considered for quite a long time as a way to help alleviate the worsening traffic in the metropolis and to help move people faster and easier. But a somewhat firm concept of a subway was conceived with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as part of its “Dream Plan” for Metro Manila, which was a comprehensive urban development plan to help decongest Metro Manila and improve the connectivity within the metropolis and surrounding areas (which, by the way, the Urban Roamer has touched upon some time ago).

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06/5/17

Fort Santiago in Flux – Part 2

When we talk about Fort Santiago these days, we often associate it with Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero as it was where he was imprisoned, tried, and where he would spend his final hours before his execution on December 30, 1896. While it is a distinction that deserves merit, this often overshadows to the actual importance of Fort Santiago. It was, first and foremost, the military headquarters for Spanish, British (during the 1762-64 occupation of Manila), American, and Japanese forces. As such, for a long while it held a very strategic importance as it was believed that gaining control of the fort provides one the greater advantage of gaining control of all the country.

Even its very name evokes a military heritage, with a bit of Moorish phobia in between. It was named after Santiago Matamoros or St. James the Moor-slayer, the representation of the Apostle St. James the Greater (AKA the brother of St. John) who is venerated in Spain for having said to have helped the Spanish forces defeat the Moors in battle. Considering that Fort Santiago was the site of the old seat of the Muslim-dominated Kingdom of Maynilad, the choice of the fort’s name may have been intentional, perhaps a threat as well to the Filipino Moros who would dare attack Spanish colonial rule, especially in Manila.

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05/28/17

Fort Santiago in Flux – Part 1

What else can be said about Fort Santiago? It is one of the most famous historic tourist destinations in Manila, perhaps in the Philippines as well. It’s one of the first places tourists are taken in the city. And if one is asked about Manila, this is one of the first places that comes to mind.

That should not come to surprise as Fort Santiago is considered to be the place where the city that we have come to know as Manila evolved from. After all, the fort was where the throne of the pre-Hispanic Kingdom of Maynilad was located, itself a fortified area (albeit made of bamboo and wood fortification). And when the Spaniards came and eventually conquered the old Kingdom of Maynilad, they would establish the new capital city of the newly-established Spanish colony of Filipinas in the premises of the old wooden fort. Eventually, the wood was replaced with thick adobe stone walls as a means to defend the new city. Continue reading

05/15/17

Club Filipino: Manila’s Storied Social Club

The presence of social clubs in a city tend to be overlooked but they nevertheless play an important role in the city’s social development. In the case of Metro Manila, social clubs such as the rotary Club and the Elks Club have made their mark in the social landscape of the metropolis.

Then there is the Club Filipino, one of the oldest clubs in existence in the country. It is also perhaps one of the most popular social clubs in the country, particularly due to the role it has played in the country’s history.

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