04/13/17

Roaming San Agustin (Part 1: The History of the San Agustin Complex)

Truth be told, this entry is way long overdue. But in time for Holy Week, the Urban Roamer finally got around to roaming this important landmark.

And this particular landmark, what else is needed to be said? It is perhaps the most significant landmark that represents the history and legacy of the Catholic faith in our country. It is significant enough to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the San Agustin Church, the oldest church in the Philippines.

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04/2/17

Cubao’s Modern Bus Terminal

It is a sad fact, but Metro Manila direly needs not just a unified bus terminal that will house the different bus companies under one roof. It needs a modern terminal that takes into account the technologies present in today’s world. And if you’re a bit cynical, you’ll probably think this is something that’s a pipe dream as far as standards here go.

Fortunately, such a dream can be realized. Most importantly, there is already a living, real example of this in the metropolis. You just have to check out the new bus terminal at Cubao’s Araneta Center.

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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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