I mentioned in a previous post about Santa Ana’s hidden treasures, treasures of heritage to be exact. It is fortunate to find out that despite the rapid urbanization going on around the 400-plus year-old city, the old heritage of the city is still alive in this “quieter” part of the city. For someone who appreciates the beauty of cultural heritage, it is a welcome relief to see it somehow alive in the district of Santa Ana.
Back during the 19th-early 20th centuries, Santa Ana became known as an enclave of some of Manila’s upper class families. The lush environment and the cool breeze of the Pasig River made living in Santa Ana back then a privilege of sorts that attracted many who were trying to move away from frentic activities of a growing Manila. The old houses that have remained here are a reminder of the community’s affluent past.
One place to find traces of this past is at the heart of Santa Ana itself, where you’ll find what may look like a basketball court but is actually a plaza named Plaza Hugo.
It is sad to see some houses have fallen into a state of disrepair. Which is a pity because this area alone can be transformed into a cultural tourism destination, a little Vigan if you will. You can just imagine the possibilities of what a house like this one below can become if given the proper treatment.
And while you might think the picture below is just one of those many outdoor basketball courts placed in the middle of the street or someplace, that is actually Plaza Hugo itself. Named after some fellow named Juan Hugo (I have yet to find out who he really is) the plaza actually serves more than just a basketball court. If you notice the stage in the background, it also serves as a venue for presentations like theater plays. Yes theater is still alive in this part of a film/tv-viewing metropolis.
The brainchild of actor/councilor Lou Veloso, Tanghalang Sta. Ana has been one of the few and successful community-based theater groups here in the metropolis. They are actually based just at the back of the plaza, here in the Sta. Ana Arts Center. The place where it now stands was once an old dilapidated warehouse that Veloso acquired some years ago to be converted into what it is now. It’s also nice to see the architecture of the structure still left intact, blending with the heritage of the community itself.
Another place of interest to visit around the plaza is a small, low-key house located just at the back of the Sta. Ana Church which actually serves as a Taoist temple, which is happened to be dedicated as well to Santa Ana’s patron, Our Lady of the Abandoned. Nothing like a good peculiarity of an east and west blending of sorts.
From the information I got from one of the readers, it was said that long ago, there was a Chinese garments trader who received an order from a lady to have some garments delivered to the biggest house in Santa Ana. Upon arriving and asking with the residents there, he realized the biggest house there is the church itself. So he entered the church and realized that the woman who ordered the garments was the Lady itself. So the story goes that he had himself converted to Christianity and built the temple across the church that still stands to this day, dedicated to Our Lady of the Abandoned.
Just a few blocks south from Plaza Hugo is another plaza formed by a rotunda intersecting the streets M. Roxas, Jose Syquia, Revellin, and Zamora. Interesting that it bears the name “Lumang Kampo Santo,” which actually means “old cemetery.” Does this mean this place used to be a burial ground of sorts?
Today, the possible remains of its possible past is a statue of what looks like a headless angel in the act of flying up the skies. In reality, the figure has a head which is raised too high that it gave an illusion of headlessness.
Currently, this plaza is known as the Philippine-Thailand Friendship Circle, which was first opened 11 years ago by the city government on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Philippine-Thai relations. In celebrating this diplomatic relationship, you will find Philippine and Thai-inspired structures around the park.
Like this one, which is called a chedi, which is what Thais call for the stupa, or a structure where Buddhist relics are kept.
To be continued…
©The Urban Roamer