City of Manila

Reviving Quiapo’s Heritage: The Story of the Padilla House

It has often been stressed here and in other sites that Manila’s Quiapo district is like a diamond in the mud. There are so many beauty to be discovered in the midst of the urban decay which sadly permeates this part of the city. Nevertheless, there are some reasons to be hopeful for Quiapo, with the presence of preserved landmarks like the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, the ongoing efforts to restore Kasa Boix, and a revived heritage structure which the Urban Roamer will be writing about today, the Padilla House.

The Padilla House is said to be one of the oldest houses in the district as it was said to have been standing there since the 1880s. (though I was also told that it has been actually standing there for about 300 years) It was the ancestral house of the Padilla family of Quiapo, a once stately structure that has fallen into the pangs of urban decay that has fallen into this once-glorious district after World War II. Yet, somehow it has managed to carry on so to speak, as some establishments made this house as a base of sorts for their respective businesses and offices. I remember at one point, there was a post office and an eatery located at the ground level of this house.

Then came in a new generation, with real estate scion and artist Manuel Padilla inheriting the structure. He was set on restoring his ancestral house and turning into something new for the succeeding generations to appreciate. For years, he worked on salvaging the integral parts of the house like the roof and the flooring and making some changes like the capiz windows replaced with artistic stain glass ones. The result was the opening of a studio and art gallery in 2012, the first and the only one so far located in Quiapo and a fine example as well of “adaptive reuse” which means to revive an old, decaying structure for a different purpose without losing its aesthetics or character that it has been known for.

The studio/art gallery features works done by Padilla, most notably paintings that depict the culture and heritage of Manila such as the Binondo Chinatown and the Feast of the Black Nazarene Quiapo is most renowned for.

Just as the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, one gets a different vibe when entering this house far different from the area around it, giving a sense of the old grandeur Quiapo once had and is trying to reclaim. It is the fervent hope that more structures in the district will take their cue from the Padilla House to be revived for the sake of future generations and for the district and the city’s development as well.

Definitely, this is one Quiapo landmark one should not fail to visit and appreciate. It is located right at the corner of Hidalgo and De Guzman Streets right in the heart of Quiapo so check it out.


Acknowledgements to the Inquirer, Manuel Padilla, and the Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista for organizing a tour the Urban Roamer participated in that visited the house among other landmarks in Quiapo 


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