As this particular entry is being released on a Mother’s Day, allow the Urban Roamer to greet all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day! I suppose words cannot express our gratitude for everything they have done for us that sometimes we tend to take for granted. May this day be an opportunity for us to show that gratitude and honor their sacrifices for us.
But how does one honor a mother whose sacrifices for us were greater than we could ever imagine? Such an homage can be done in any shape or form, no matter how simple of a gesture it may be. Or it could be something like what was done almost a hundred years ago, when it was decided that motherhood, Filipino motherhood especially, will be honored in what was to be known as the most beautiful bridge in Manila.
It was 1921, and work was completed for the construction of a new bridge that would connect the bustling Binondo district in the downtown to the historic Walled City of Intramuros, replacing the older but narrow Puente de España. It was decided that it would be named after William A. Jones, the US Congressman behind the Jones Act, an important piece of legislature that would help secure future Philippine independence from America.
With the bridge itself already made grand thanks to its design done by Juan Arellano, (who also designed the nearby Post Office Building and Metropolitan Theater which makes that area overall to be known as the Arellano Triangle) it was made even more imposing as a bridge with a statue to be placed on each of its 4 entrances. Arellano assigned the task of creating the statues to a sculptor named Martinez. (one source says his first name is Ramon) The result of which is a four-piece set of sculptures titled “La Madre Filipina,” the Filipina mother whose traits and values are being extolled and immortalized in each of these sculptures.
These monuments to Filipina motherhood would become as iconic and well-loved as the bridge where they stood. Unfortunately, they would be severely affected by the ravages of World War II, most especially during the Battle of Manila in 1945. American shelling in particular would lay Jones Bridge to a complete waste and one of the four statues to be devastated as well in the process. Miraculously, the three remaining statues survived the war but as Jones Bridge was being reconstructed, it was decided that the statues would have to be moved elsewhere.
Thus happened the diaspora of the remaining La Madre Filipina sculptures. One sculpture was moved first to Intramuros before it was relocated to a more permanent spot a few meters beside the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park.
The other two were relocated to the complex of the Court of Appeals in Ermita.
It can be said that the survival of these monuments reflect the strength and resilience of a mother, as well as that of the Filipino people. May that strength and resilience continue live on in the people and in mothers everywhere.
acknowledgements as well to Manila Nostalgia site, The Filipinas, Urban Historian, and Manila Nostalgia Facebook group