10/4/17

Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros

October every year is a special occasion for one of the metropolis’ most prominent Catholic churches. In particular, this church celebrates two important occasions: the feast day of its Marian patron and the anniversary of its establishment in its current location. And what is this church is the Urban Roamer referring to? Why, it is none other than the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City, considered to be the one of the largest Catholic churches in Metro Manila.

For us to better appreciate the significance of this landmark, it is important for us to learn its history. For that, we have to first visit the Walled City that is Intramuros in Manila, right where Santo Domingo began. Continue reading

07/4/17

A Mexican Connection in Intramuros

Mexico evokes many thoughts and emotions among Filipinos, For some, Mexico is associated with the nationality of many of the opponents boxer Manny Pacquiao faced, such as Juan Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez. For others, it is a country of the telenovelas from which we have come to love people like Thalia and become more fond for cheesy and insane plotlines. And there are those who associate and have grown fond of the country because of its food like the tacos and the burritos.

What many do not realize though is that this appreciation for Mexico goes way, way back. All the way back to November 19/20. 1564, when Spain launched an expedition from its crown colony in Mexico that would finally bring the Philippines under Spanish rule. The expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi would arrive in the country in February 1565, launching Spain’s colonization campaign, capping off with the establishment of Manila as a city and the colony’s capital on June 24, 1571. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

04/15/17

Roaming San Agustin (Part 3: A Museum’s Treasures)

As much as there is a lot to see in the San Agustin Church itself, if one wants to immerse in the rich history of the church and that of the Augustinian Order in the Philippines, it is highly recommended to visit the San Agustin Museum.

With so many artifacts in the museum’s collection that can be seen here, it is, for now at least, the most massive museum experience one can find within Intramuros. It provides a glimpse of how the religious life was like in Intramuros especially during the Spanish colonial period, back when Intramuros was known as the “little Vatican” of the east. (this was tackled here in a previous entry)

Continue reading