06/10/16

The Book Stop: A Roaming Book Haven

If you have been to Intramuros these past few days, particularly at the area of Plaza Roma, you may have noticed a unique-looking structure in the plaza that is being visited by a number of people. While one may first look at it as some modern art installation, upon closer look, you will realize it is actually something different.This structure is actually a pop-up library known as The Book Stop.

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10/29/15

Happy Birthday, Heneral Luna!

Today marks the 149th birth anniversary of one of the most colorful personalities in Philippine history, not to mention one of the most renowned Filipino military geniuses, the “Heneral” himself, Antonio Luna.

courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

And this year’s commemoration of his birth comes at an interesting time, right at the heels of the unprecedented success of the film “Heneral Luna,” the biographical film based on his life. Thanks in large part to the film, more and more people are becoming more aware of this man, his legacy, and his life’s tragedy.

Thus, today the Urban Roamer pays tribute to this man on his natal day, in an urban roaming way that we often do here, as we look at a couple of places here that bears a connection to his life and legacy.

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08/10/15

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

04/24/15

It’s Intramuros Pasyal Sunday Again

It’s been a while since the Urban Roamer checked out the last Intramuros Pasyal Sunday event, the one I last attended was last year. So I’m glad to be back at such an event.

Throughout the afternoon until the evening, a portion of Gen. Luna Street was closed off to vehicles as that part of the road became a lively outdoor fair of sorts as various stalls were set up to offer their different wares and goods.

Team Manila posters

colorful sungkas from The Manila Collectible Co.

friend, blogger, and graphic artist Paolo Bustamante of The Filipinas was there with his Manila-inspired artworks

There is also al fresco dining, or some street food choices as well if you’re into it.

Intramuros Pasyal Sunday is also an opportunity to promote biking as a healthy and green form of transport. Thus, apart from people, there were those biking along the street, some of them riding bamboo bikes. The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was also there to provide free bike rentals as a way of supporting the initiative.

The only downside was that the sveltering summer heat especially in the afternoon when I was there, which was a hindrance in a way. Still it was nice to be back at the Walled City to check out the of the changes there, like the initiative to make some streets there car-free and promote a walkable Intramuros that this event aims to champion.

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The recent Intramuros visit was also an opportunity to check out the new location of one of my favorite Filipino culture gift shops, the Manila Collectible Co.,  which is now located within the premises of Fort Santiago.

To be honest, I’m kinda torn about this move of the stote. On one hand, I’m glad to see the store within a famed tourist destination which means more people will get to visit it. On the other hand, the space in their new location seems to be a bit cramped compared to what it had before in its old home that it feels that it was a bit of a shame that they’re no longer in that bigger venue.

Nevertheless, they still offer some great Filipino products that are worth checking out at least so visit them in their new home at Chamber 8 in Fort Santiago.

04/3/15

Intramuros and Its Lost Rich Catholic Heritage

Intramuros during the Spanish colonial period was not only the center of political power in the Philippines, it was also the center of faith, the Catholic faith, in the country. At a time when there was no separation of powers between church and state, Intramuros was where everything that would influence the way of life of the people emanated from.

While Intramuros would lose its status as a political center during the American colonial period, it still pretty much retained its status as a spiritual center for a still Catholic-dominated population in the midst of the rise of new religions and denominations that came about during that time. That was until World War II changed everything, destroying most of the Walled City’s old churches especially during the Battle of Manila in 1945.

San Agustin Church, the surviving remnant of the prewar Catholic heritage of Intramuros

Manila Cathedral, rebuilt after World War II

Of the original 7 churches, (well 8 if we count a chapel, more on that later) only San Agustin Church survived after the war to become the country’s oldest surviving church. Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Manila, would be rebuilt and reopened a few years later in 1958. Currently ongoing at this time of writing is the rebuilding of the old Jesuit church of San Ignacio which is expected to be reopened as an ecclesiastical museum in 2016-2017.

Today, we look at the other  churches that used to stand in the Walled City which gave Intramuros a much Catholic character and helped made it known as the “Little Vatican of the East,”  a heritage devastated by war and never to rise again, at least for a foreseeable future. Continue reading