Manila’s Last Green Haven

One of the most unfortunate and frustrating aspects of Manila’s development in the last century is how rapid urbanization not only brought blight and decay to what were the city’s most prominent areas before but also shrank what was then a vast green space for the city’s urban lungs.

Thankfully, there are still some green spaces one can still refuge, located right in the heart of the city itself, the Arroceros Forest Park.

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The Lady of Ermita

Mention the place “Ermita” and you will probably get many responses that dwell on the district’s not-so-positive reputation, thanks to it being known before as a haven of the so-called “girly bars” that has tainted this old district’s heritage, never mind the fact that these bars are no longer as prevalent as they were before the 1990s.

Nevertheless, for the old Catholic faithful in the district, they have their affections lie on one lady whose presence there predates the bars, going as far back at least to the time when the Spaniards set foot in Manila in 1571. The lady of Ermita that is the Marian image known as the Nuestra Señora de Guia. (Our Lady of Guidance)

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For God and Country: Iglesia Filipina Independiente And Its National Cathedral

August 3, 1902 was a significant event in the annals of Philippine religious history, and of the greater history of the country as a whole. On that day,  a group of nationalists led by labor leader Isabelo de los Reyes sought to proclaim a new church as an answer to the issues of corruption, discrimination, and other abuses being committed by the Roman Catholic Church in the country, especially against Filipinos. It would be a church by Filipinos and for Filipinos, especially at a time when the ideals of the Philippine Revolution have taken a hold of the country that was struggling to find its own identity, especially in terms of faith which was dominated by Spanish frailocracy.


This new church would be known as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or the Philippine Independent Church, (PIC)* effectively breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church and the friars the Filipinos have long detested. To lead this new church, the founders turned to one of the leading Filipino priest activists who have long struggled to give Filipino priests more opportunities in Catholic Church. He was Fr. Gregorio Aglipay who eventually accepted the role and becoming the first Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church. Continue reading


Monuments to Motherhood

As this particular entry is being released on a Mother’s Day, allow the Urban Roamer to greet all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day! I suppose words cannot express our gratitude for everything they have done for us that sometimes we tend to take for granted. May this day be an opportunity for us to show that gratitude and honor their sacrifices for us.

But how does one honor a mother whose sacrifices for us were greater than we could ever imagine? Such an homage can be done in any shape or form, no matter how simple of a gesture it may be. Or it could be something like what was done almost a hundred years ago, when it was decided that motherhood, Filipino motherhood especially, will be honored in what was to be known as the most beautiful bridge in Manila. Continue reading


Museo Pambata: the children’s museum that was once an social club

In a metropolis where tales of gems neglected or lost to urbanization, the story of the old Elks Club Building along Manila’s Roxas Boulevard near Rizal Park is a story worth to be told and emulated in the field of what they call as “adaptive reuse” or making use of an old structure into a different purpose while maintaining its classic character.


And the story behind this edifice gets more interesting. As the name suggests, it served as the home of the Manila Elks Club, a social club and fraternal organization that is under the Elks Lodge (or formally, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) centrally based in Chicago. Founded in 1868, the Elks Lodge has traditionally been an exclusive club which boasted illustrious members like Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, Frederick Funston, (the man responsible for the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo in 1901) baseball icon Mickey Mantle, and even Hollywood celebrities like Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck. Continue reading