The Ayuntamiento…Finally!

For those who have long known the Urban Roamer, either in person or through this site, it is no secret that for a long while, it has been a source of pining and frustration to get the opportunity to visit this one particular landmark in the metropolis ever since the completion of its restoration about 3 years ago. Unfortunately, circumstances were in the way of at least a couple of occasions that would have been the opportunity for me to get inside the storied structure. Those and the fact that there seemed to be no clear guidelines in place regarding possible tours inside the structure.

Fortunately, it seems the guidelines have now been set in place and finally, after 3 years, the Urban Roamer has finally managed to go inside and see what is inside this storied structure known as the Ayuntamiento de Manila building.

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The Case of the Ayuntamiento: A Costly “Restoration”?

Recently, the Urban Roamer came across an interesting news item through one of Facebook groups dealing with Philippine heritage news and issues. The news item was actually part of a series of reports broadcasted on CNN Philippines last February that talked about the “restoration” of the old Ayuntamiento de Manila building to become the new home of the Bureau of the Treasury.

It would have been an interesting read, had not it been for the maliciously anti-heritage slant put forth by the report of Fiona Nicolas, which put the restoration as “costly” and that the Php 1.188B spent on this project would have been better spent elsewhere like poverty alleviations, housing, the usual stuff. As you can see, I am flustered and irritated with such commentaries. So let me devote space here to enlighten the people with the matters at hand. Continue reading


Manila1945: Wrecked and Rebuilt

The Battle of Manila that raged from February 3-March 3, 1945 decimated a lot of structures in the city. With the limited resources available for disposal in those times, not all of them managed to be rebuilt after the war, some of them even took a long while for them to be completed. As we continue the #Manila1945 series here, we will be taking a look at some of these structures that were destroyed and have managed to rise again from the ashes of war, though some of them never looked the same way as before. Continue reading


Roamer’s Roundup: of restoration and reclamation

Today, I bring you yet another edition of the roamer’s roundup on the latest updates and issues on the many thing happening around the metropolis.

On a personal note, I have been very busy with things going these past few days, especially with Christmas around the corner. And the traffic unfortunately has been of no help in getting things done at these times. But I suppose most, if not all, of you feel the same way.




We start off with a bit of good news and a boost in heritage restoration in the city, and in the country as a whole: none other than the restoration project of the Ayuntamiento Building in Intramuros.

Standing right across the Plaza Roma and the Palacio del Governador, (the old office of the Spanish Governor-General in the Philippines before moving to Malacañang) the Ayuntamiento was roughly the equivalent to today’s City Hall, where the city government of Manila (whose territory at the time encompassed the Intramuros we know today) was based. Like a few other structures in Intramuros, especially the ones still standing today, the Ayuntamiento building went through some reconstructions over the years, having gone through 2 reconstructions due to earthquakes.

The most notable of the Ayuntamiento buildings was the third one, built between 1879-1884, designed by a Spanish engineer named Eduardo Lopez Navarro. It boasted of a grand staircase that led to the Session Hall of the city council and a grand ballroom where many high-profile social events were held. Built with a very generous usage of marble as material, the building earned the nickname “Marble Palace.” You can check out some photos of the old Ayuntamiento here.

Apart from being center of the old Manila city administration, the Ayuntamiento served as the home of the First Philippine Assembly, the Bureau of Justice, and the Philippine Supreme Court. Sadly, it was reduced mostly to rubble during the Battle of Manila in February 1945, with only the walls remaining intact. For decades, it would remain in ruins as it found use as a carpark behind the shelled out facade.

But all hope was not lost as work began in 2009 for the reconstruction of the Ayuntamiento building as a heritage landmark and also serve as office for the Bureau of Treasury, which spearheaded the project.

The building was reconstructed to be as faithful as possible to the beloved Ayuntamiento building no. 3 from the façade to the interiors as it strived to recapture the old glory and atmosphere it once exuded.

To date, some finishing touches are being done to the building which is hoped to be completed by next year. So far judging from the photos, the work done has been splendid and bears fruitful promise. We shall await the formal opening of this building and we can’t wait to share in celebrating this achievement which I hope would be the start of a new, brighter chapter for Intramuros and Manila as a whole.

For the meantime, you can check out the Facebook page of the Ayuntamiento project and see for yourself the work that was done.


On the other hand, news has broken out on a plan to reclaim a significant portion of Manila Bay. Significant as in that part of the Manila Bay coastline from the US Embassy to the CCP Complex which is still being enjoyed by many thanks to the Baywalk and the great view of the Manila Bay sunset it offers.

Apparently, the developments that led to this news appeared right under the radar as it was already a done deal as an agreement was already signed last April 2012. The City Government of Manila seems to support it. Even famed architect and urban planning advocate Jun Palafox is behind it as reclamation would help alleviate flooding in this part of the city. It is envisioned that this reclaimed land would be the new commercial and business district for Manila, after putting in the backburner the plans before to convert the Manila South Port area into a business hub.

On the other hand, such development would block the sunset view not only in the Roxas Boulevard Baywalk area (which was envisioned originally as a coastal thoroughfare) but also in Ermita and Malate which made these districts popular destinations in the first place thanks to their access to the beautiful Manila Bay sunset. In addition, there is no guarantee that such project would help alleviate flooding as recent reclamation projects did not do much to address flooding. In fact, some have contended that reclamation exacerbated the flooding rather.

Currently, the proponents of the reclamation, Manila Goldcoast Development Corp. which is said to be headed by the head honcho of Solar Entertainment Wilson Tieng (who also happens to be brother of a party-list representative) is on a “goodwill” drive to promote the project as something for the good of Manila. But it may not be an easy road for them as it has faced notable opposition who have launched a signature campaign online to stop the project.

We shall be keeping tabs on this issue and see what happens next.

© The Urban Roamer