City of Manila

Isabel II: the monument that almost got ditched

Located in an inconspicuous corner at the northeastern end of the Intramuros walls stands this particular monument made of copper (which is why it’s greenish in color) This monument happens to be of one dedicated to one of Spain’s most controversial monarchs, Queen Isabel (or Isabella) II.


She became a polarizing figure when she assumed the throne of the Spanish monarchy at age 3, as her accession was opposed by those who feel that the crown should be given to a male member of the royal family, even though Isabel was a direct descendant of the late king Ferdinand VII and that the king himself had no male children.

Isabel (Isabella) II: one of the most controversial monarchs in Spanish history

Still, she enjoyed support from the military, the legislature, and the Catholic Church, which was enough to keep her in power. Back home in the Philippines, support for her reign was also strong. They had carved a new province in her honor (i.e. Isabela) and right in the capital, plans were afoot to have a monument built in her honor. (with the help of donations to finance it)

the approximate location of the first site of the Isabel II monument

Sculpted by a Spanish architect named Ponciano Ponzano, the monument was unveiled in 1860 at the area we know now as Liwasang Bonifacior, approximately near where the Metropolitan Theater now stands.

As she grew older and became more acquainted with her powers, Isabel II became more involved in the affairs of the state in an unpopular manner. Political upheaval ensued that culminated in a revolution in 1868 which caused her downfall and a provisional government to take power in her place. This provisional government made its presence felt in the country a year later, with the appointment of the liberal-minded Carlos Maria de la Torre as Governor General of the colony.

As a way of removing vestiges of Isabel’s legacy, Gov. Gen. de la Torre ordered the destruction of the Isabel II monument. However, he gave these orders to someone who happened to be a Isabel II loyalist so he refused to have it done. Eventually, the monument was not destroyed but was instead kept away in the storeroom of the Ayuntamiento where it remained for decades.

the second site for the Isabel II monument in front of the Malate Church, where now stands in its place is a statue of the Our Lady of Remedies, after who the church is dedicated to.

Eventually the statue was taken outside and in 1896 was placed in front of the Malate Church. It would remain there until a strong typhoon in 1970 named Yoling tumbled it down. Fortunately, the statue was not damaged much but it was decided to move it somewhere else. And what better place to relocate it than in Intramuros itself, right outside the wall gate which also bears the monarch’s name.

the present Isabel II monument in front of the Puerta Isabel II (Isabel II Gate) of Intramuros, opened in 1861 as a way to ease pedestrian traffic between Intramuros and Binondo

Acknowledgements to the book Ciudad Murada by Jose Victor Torres, published by the Intramuros Administration.


© The Urban Roamer

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