City of Manila,  Special Feature

Manila1945: Wrecked and Rebuilt

The Battle of Manila that raged from February 3-March 3, 1945 decimated a lot of structures in the city. With the limited resources available for disposal in those times, not all of them managed to be rebuilt after the war, some of them even took a long while for them to be completed. As we continue the #Manila1945 series here, we will be taking a look at some of these structures that were destroyed and have managed to rise again from the ashes of war, though some of them never looked the same way as before.


Prewar: Built in 1919 and named in honor of the U.S. congressman behind the 1916 Philippine Autonomy Act William A. Jones, Jones Bridge was one of the most beautiful bridges in the city, thanks to the ornate design that Architect Juan Arellano added, not to mention the presence of 4 monuments on the 4 pillars of the bridge celebrating Filipina motherhood.

(courtesy of Rare Postcard)

Postwar: The bridge was bombed out by war’s end. In addition, 1 of the 4 monuments was knocked off while the other 3 survived. The bridge was eventually rebuilt but it no longer bore the ornate design and beauty of the original. Also, the surviving 3 monuments were moved elsewhere: 1 in Rizal Park and the other 2 at the Court of Appeals Building.


Prewar: Finished in 1926, the building was originally intended as the national library cum museum before it was decided that it would be the home of the Philippine Legislature instead, housing both the Senate and House of Representatives. The original building had some more additional ornate designs.

(from the LIFE Magazine archives)
after the war (courtesy of Nostalgia Filipinas)

Postwar: Only the central portion building survived the shelling during the Battle of Manila and was reconstructed after a few years. However, the ornate elements were removed in the reconstruction, giving the structure a more “stoic” look.

(courtesy of looloo)


Prewar: The Manila Cathedral that stood before the war was already Cathedral No. 7. that was completed in 1879.

(photo by Bob Meza, shared via Wikipedia under the Creative Commons license)
Manila Cathedral in ruins after the war (courtesy of Hecho Ayer)

Postwar: Shelling leveled the whole structure to the ground, save for the facade, especially its arched entrance. Work proceeded in the reconstruction of what would become Manila Cathedral No. 8, which was completed by 1958. In terms of architecture, the new Manila Cathedral looked pretty much the same as its  predecessor.


Prewar: The original Ayuntamiento was completed in 1884 to serve as the office of the Manila City Council after the first Ayuntamiento was destroyed by an earthquake years prior. When the Americans took control of the country in 1898, it served as the office of the American military governor then became the home of the First Philippine Assembly which became the Philippine Legislature before it moved to the Legislative Building (see above)

(courtesy of theurbanhistorian on Tumblr)

Postwar: As in the case of the Manila Cathedral, much of the Ayuntamiento building was leveled to the ground save for its facade. For about 60 years, it remained as such; its old interior was converted into a parking lot. But better late than never as reconstruction work began in the 2009. At this time of writing, work is almost completed and is anticipated to be opened soon as a museum as well as the future home of the Bureau of Treasury. For the meantime, visitors will have to be content with looking at the restored facade which is as close as it looks to the original.

(courtesy of Dexter Baldon on Flickr)


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