Chino Roces and the Bridge at Mendiola

Since the late Marcos period at least, Mendiola Street has been known as a hotbed of protest activity as people marching there aimed to have their grievances and protests heard a bit closer by whoever is at Malacañang at the end of the said street. The epicenter of sorts of these activities is the bridge along Mendiola that crosses the Estero de San Miguel, named today in memory of one of those who took part in those protests along that storied street.

His name is Joaquin Roces, better known to family and friends as “Chino.” And he was no mere protester. He belonged to one of Manila’s most illustrious families, the Roces family who owned a bustling media conglomerate that flourished until 1972, when Martial Law was declared.

Chino Roces (courtesy of Malacanang Museum

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Manila1945: The UST Standoff

When the Japanese occupied Manila in January 1942, they took control of the then-newly established campus of University of Santo Tomas in the city’s Sampaloc district. With such a large tract of property and the large structures there that were already standing by that time, notably the UST Main Building and the old Education Building, (now occupied by the UST Hospital) the Japanese decided to convert the campus into an the Santo Tomas Internment Camp.

the open area at the UST Main Building was filled with makeshift shelters made by the internees (from Wikipedia)

The Japanese rounded up about 4,000 foreign individuals, mostly American and British nationals who were deemed as “hostile aliens” by the Japanese and isolated them in the different buildings in the campus, most notably the Main Building. With that, the Santo Tomas Internment Camp was the largest internment camp the Japanese set up during the war; the internees organized themselves as an effort to make do of the situation. At first, the internment wards gave the prisoners some relative freedom so visitors could come and give them needed goods, not to mention some intelligence information, along the way.  But as the tide of war was turning against Japan, the prisoners were given harsher treatment which was coupled by a shortening food supply which has resulted into malnourishment, if not death, among the internees. Such were the state of things as February 1945 entered. Continue reading


Legarda Elementary School: Manila’s Heritage School

There was a time when public schools in Manila, and in the Philippines as a whole, were regarded highly for two things: quality education (which at that time surpasses that of private schools) and their architectural quality were landmarks to behold.

Today, public education is going through some tough times as it is being hounded with lack of resources and a growing student population that not many schools could accommodate. In the midst of all these, there is the Legarda Elementary School.

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Sampaloc’s Twin Churches

The district of Sampaloc in the City of Manila has long been known not only as a bustling residential enclave but also an important educational center of the city and of the metropolis as a whole. But at the heart of this busy district is a spiritual core that is common among many communities in the country. What makes Sampaloc’s case a bit different though is that its spiritual core is served not only by one but two Catholic churches with an intertwined history that has shaped the suburb we know of today.

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Reminiscing the cinematic glitter: the old movie theaters of downtown Manila (Part III: along Recto Avenue)

Claro M. Recto Avenue in Manila is an interesting thoroughfare in that it has served to link Manila’s educational and commercial hubs. As such, the area around that road formerly known as Calle Azcarraga is an area of bustling activity.that has made it a prominent Manila thoroughfare through the years.

Recto theaters

the Urban Roamer’s map of the Recto movie theaters through Google Earth. this is not considered authoritative. also, there is a movie theater not included in this map, U-Belt Theater as there is no documentation found yet as to its approximate location.

There were about a dozen or so movie theaters that used to stand along this stretch of the road. Around the University Belt side of Recto alone, there were the Manila Cinema and U-Belt Cinema, (which I don’t know what sites they are now) as well as the “big four” of the U-Belt Recto area which happen to be all located close to each other, Miramar and Maxim along the westbound side and Eastern and Tandem right across them. There were other movie theaters in Recto’s U-Belt area as well like the Manila Cinema and the U-Belt Cinema as well. Continue reading