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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Memory and modernity in San Nicolas District

Located right along the north bank of the Pasig River near the mouth where the river meets the Manila Bay, one can find the district known as San Nicolas. But for the regular city-dweller, the mention of San Nicolas may not ring as it is overshadowed by its neighboring Binondo district and that shopping area called Divisoria, an area that is actually part of San Nicolas but has grown more prominent than the district itself.


the San Francisco or Blanco (as it was formally called) Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Manila that links Binondo to San Nicolas

Regardless of its diminished stature as of late, one cannot discount the important role San Nicolas has played in Manila’s history and development, thanks in part for its role as the city’s business and commercial hub, a natural extension for the Filipino-Chinese based in neighboring Binondo to do their day-to-day trade. Its location is also a favored factor given its proximity to the Pasig River and the Manila Bay as trade at the time was being carried out by the boats delivering goods to and from the port. Continue reading


Divisoria: Manila’s shopping mecca

Since it’s Christmas, the Urban Roamer presents to you one of Christmastime’s favorite shopping destinations. Then again, this place is an all-time favorite shopping destination

Juan Dela Cruz Band’s “Divisoria”

If there can only be one place that would be named as THE shopping mecca in the metropolis, it would not be some fancy mall or high-end shopping district. For many not only in Metro Manila but perhaps in the entire country as well, nothing equates shopping more than that famed district in Manila that we call “Divisoria.”

But of course, Divisoria itself needs no further introduction. It has become such an iconic landmark destination that every one in the metropolis is familiar with, at the very least. It originally pertained to the area that is part of San Nicolas district, particularly the area near the district’s boundary with Binondo, hence the name “divisoria” which meant division or boundary. In recent years though, Divisoria grew that its boundaries today are no longer clearly defined as it encompassed the southern tip of Tondo and the northwest area of Binondo. Continue reading


A fusion of faiths in Manila

Manila, and the Philippines in general, has always been described as a melting pot of eastern and western cultures. Religion has been no exception as with the case of this curious religious item called the Santo Cristo de Longos.

Legend tells us that sometime in the 16th century, a deaf-mute Chinese guy was getting water from a well in a barrio called Longos, when he managed to draw along with the water an image of a crucified Christ. It was said that this guy’s deaf-mute condition was healed at that moment. And word soon spread about the image’s supposed miraculous powers.


the original site of the well at Barrio Longos where the original Santo Cristo de Longos was found, now near the corner of San Nicolas and Sto Cristo streets in San Nicolas District, Manila

The image was fitted to a cross and was placed in a small chapel where it stayed until the chapel was destroyed in the 1863 earthquake. The image was then transferred to Binondo Church where it remains to this day.


But while the original image is in Binondo Church, its showcase of veneration can be seen in this alley side off Ongpin St. as a replica of the image painted in shining gold-like color stands.


The practice of veneration to the Santo Cristo de Longos has been quite popular over the years, particularly with the Filipino-Chinese community in the Binondo area that over time, this practice has become a curious sight of how eastern and western traditions converge in the matter of faith. In this case, Catholicism and the traditional Chinese religions. The sight of people praying while holding incense sticks in front of the image surrounded by sampaguita garlands and fruit offerings is something some might find surreal to see.



That’s Filipino for you.

Acknowledgements as well to Traveler on Foot

© The Urban Roamer


born in blood: the birthplace of the Katipunan

It was July 7, 1892. The news of the day that time was the exile of Dr. Jose Rizal to Dapitan for all the headaches he has caused the Spanish colonial government and the Catholic Church in the country with his writings. It was said that Rizal was expecting that he would be executed that time, only that he would be getting an additional 4 years to his life.

taken from the web

Three days earlier, he founded a civic organization called La Liga Filipina which aimed at what can be called as “people empowerment.” Now with its founder and leader gone, it would be expected that the flame he started would be extinguished. But as fate would have it, the flame did not die as was expected, but it took a rather radical shift in its trajectory. Continue reading