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Category Archives: Intramuros

NCCA’s “Bloggers’ Hour”: Philippine Arts Festival 2014 — Art on the Edge

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It’s all systems go for this year’s National Arts Month!

In preparation for the upcoming Philippine Arts Festival (PAF), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) held its second “Bloggers’ Hour” last Thursday in its headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. The first Bloggers’ Hour was two years ago wherein I signed up as ALAS FILIPINAS. The blogpost I wrote for it was largely ignored in this wonderful country of ours because it was written in Spanish. Although I was hoping to grab the attention of the Spanish-speaking community overseas, it was not a clever move if I had wanted a Filipino audience. Actually, I didn’t. But never mind that. Anyway. This time around, I signed up as the Filipino eScribbler. And yes, I bet this pretty blogpost of mine will garner thousands of hits. Because the NCCA said so.

Last Thursday, me and other fellow bloggers who attended the simple gathering were informed about the upcoming events for the PAF 2014. The PAF is a month-long celebration held every February in time for the National Arts Month which was created by virtue of some presidential decree which nobody has ever heard of. This year, the event will start from January 31 up to March 3.

PAF 2014 will have a “soft opening” later this morning. At exactly 8:00 AM, there will be a flash mob of various artists coupled with performances by hip hop, ballet, and Filipiniana dancers at the Doroteo José station of the Light Railway Transit in Manila. It will be followed by another one at the Metro Railway Transit’s Cubáo station in Quezon City at 10:00 AM. So slackers who plan to be late for work will have a pretty good excuse: “I was mobbed by people with fancy Bohemian clothing, and they were armed with paintbrushes, chisels, and they were talking smack verses! I was totally helpless, boss!”

I’m supposed to be there later but I couldn’t because I haven’t slept yet since yesterday morning, and I’m still wide awake listening to the howling Siberian winds outside, and it’s close to 4:00 AM as I write this, and I have a thousand other lame excuses. But I think the ever-reliable blogger Gemma San José will be there to blog about it. So stay tuned to her blog Lifelong Learning. And yes, her latest blogpost has just saved me (and probably the other bloggers) from further explaining in detail what the highly informative NCCA Chairman Felipe de León, Jr. spoke about during last Thursday’s Bloggers’ Hour. Snippets of his absorbing impromptu speech about Filipino Identity and the arts can be viewed from Hoshi‘s video below:

And yes, that pretty boy to the right of the video is me. Talicogenic pa rin.

NCCA’s Bloggers’ Hour may not be as huge as other blogger events, but I am still honored to be part of it nonetheless especially since it is organized by the country’s bastion of —what else?— culture and the arts.

Hey. It would be nice if you’d get rid of that humdrum existence of yours once in a while. Or even for just a month. Let February do that for you. It’s National Arts Month, and art is on the edge. Better be there when it happens. As they say over at the NCCA, “Halina’t maqui-sining“. It’s guaranteed to get funky and fun. :D

Click here for more photos of Bloggers’ Hour. You may also visit PAF’s Facebook page by clicking here.

La Familia Viajera — not just another travel blog

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Finally, a travel blog that I could call my own!

Actually, not just mine, but my family‘s. :-)

LA FAMILIA VIAJERA, probably the country’s first and only family travel blog (if there’s already a Filipino blog that has claimed the title first, feel free to pinch my ears when you get to see me). The blog features our very humble exploits wherever our itchy feet take us. It was soft-launched last October 21, two days after we roamed the ancient streets of Intramuros and took photos of fancy stuff there.

Fancy stuff that is our heritage.

Since LA FAMILIA VIAJERA is a family oriented blog, I will be much tamer there. I will try my best not to sound belligerent, no anti-imperialism remarks, no clenched fists raised high above the air, and no Rage Against the Machine blurting out in the background. All that indignation is reserved only for FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS (I said I will try my best).

OK. I’ll shut up now and let my third blog do the talking. Please click here for my family’s first entry to its online travelogue.

And oh, did I forget to mention? My long-time nemesis Carlos Celdrán is featured there. Believe it or not. :D

PS: And since I’d be traveling with my wife and four kids in LA FAMILIA VIAJERA, there will be no more travel blogposts in ALAS FILIPINAS and FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES from now on.

 

“Bloggers’ Hour” at the NCCA

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The first ever "Bloggers' Hour" organized and hosted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS are honored to have attended the first ever “Bloggers’ Hour” this morning. The event was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Click here for the story.

Ban Carlos Celdrán from Intramuros!

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If you believe that tour guide Carlos Celdrán should be banned from ever entering Intramuros (“the holy of holies”) forever because of what he did last Thursday, then please do join this Facebook campaign:

Ban Carlos Celdrán from Intramuros!

In the previous century, Intramuros was ruined by the US' unnecessary carpet bombing. Early this century, a homosexual zealot profaned the Walled City's only Minor Basilica. Enough with these desecrations!

¡Un abrazo!

Eleven years and stronger than ever!!!

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Wouldja believe that? In a time when broken relationships are fast becoming the norm (no thanks, of course, to this libertine society we have), me and my love have survived it all!

Ilustrado Restaurant, Intramuros, Manila (9/13/2010)

Eleven wonderful years together! And four beautiful kids! What more can I ask for? I will just enjoy and value this life God gave me with my beautiful family! =)

Our beautiful kids: Momay, Jefe, Krystal, and Juanito (09/11/2010).

¡Feliz undécimo aniversario, mi Yeyette preciosa!

¡TE QUIERO MUCHO PARA SIEMPRE!

Fort Santiago (Intramuros, Manila)

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Entrance to Fort Santiago.

The Fantabulous Pepe Alas walking toward the Rizal Shrine.

Inside Fort Santiago with Eugene Vito Cruz (left, a direct descendant of Hermógenes Vito Cruz from whom the famous street in Manila was named after) and Kuya Joey Dionisio (right, a travel blogger).

Oh my gulay. That can't be me (inside the Rizal Shrine, in front of a facsimile edition of the in/famous Noli Me Tangere).

All photos taken by Joey Dionisio (aka, Traveldaze), circa 2007.

Bring back Iglesia de San Ignacio!

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Makes me wonder what takes the Intramuros Administration so long to revive the San Ignacio Church. Funds? A go signal from the government? from the Church? What?!

SAN IGNACIO

Before...

SAN IGNACIO

After...

This neo-classical Jesuit church has been in ruins since 1945. In the 1950s, what remained of the church was slightly renovated for office use but was later abandoned. The ruins of the church and its adjoining lot is still government property, but up to now virtually nothing has been done to revive this house of God.

According to the Intramuros Administration website, there are already plans for “the restoration of the church and its use as an ecclesiastical museum for the IA collection“. I am not sure when this webpage was last updated. But somebody has to keep watch over these declarations.

What is deplorable is that (according to one of the guards we talked with when my wife and I visited the place last week) the National Museum has done a couple of archaeological excavations inside and outside the ruins (so that explained why we saw a couple of “tunnels” on the ground which we mistook as World War II Japanese diggings). Not that I’m against archaeological activities. But if the government is able to allow and pursue excavations, why not renovations?

It took more or less P3,000,000.00 pesos to revive the Manila Cathedral after the last world war. Back then, it was already a huge amount. If that generation was able to do it, why can’t ours?

The shell and, most especially, the foundations of San Ignacio is still in existence! It can still be revived! It can still be saved!

With just enough effort, dedication, prayers, and yes, political will, it is possible for our generation to hear mass once more within the blessed and historic ground of San Ignacio. Hopefully within a decade.

Sa loób ng Maynilà (Intramuros)

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“In October, a breath of the north stirs Manila, blowing summer’s dust and doves from the tile roofs, freshening the moss of old walls, as the city festoons itself with arches and paper lanterns for its great votive feast to the Virgin. Women hurrying into their finery upstairs, bewhiskered men tapping impatient canes downstairs, children teeming in the doorways, coachmen holding eager ponies in the gay streets, glance up anxiously, fearing the wind’s chill: would it rain this year? (But the eyes that, long ago, had gazed up anxiously, invoking the Virgin, had feared a grimmer rain—of fire and metal; for pirate craft crowded the horizon.) The bells begin to peal again and sound like silver coins showering in the fine air; at the rumor of drums and trumpets as bands march smartly down the cobblestones, a pang of childhood happiness smites every heart. October in Manila! But the emotion, so special to one’s childhood, seems no longer purely one’s own; seems to have traveled ahead, deep into time, since one first felt its pang; growing ever more poignant, more complex—a child’s rhyme swelling epical; a clan treasure one bequeaths at the very moment of inheritance, having added one’s gem to it. And time creates unexpected destinations, history raises figs from thistles: yesterday’s pirates become today’s roast pork and paper lanterns, a tapping of impatient canes, a clamor of trumpets…” –NICK JOAQUÍN, (Guardia de Honor)–

ESCUDO DE MANILA

¡Manila de mis amores!

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long, long time. Ever since I rejoined the Catholic Church last 2003, I’ve been longing to do a visita iglesia within the historic walls of Intramuros, “the original Manila”. Seven were the original churches of the Walled City. But only two are left (and one still lay in ruins). Finally, I had the chance to fulfill that dream a few days ago, October 28. The weather was absitively, posolutely perfect: very windy, very cool, very October, much like the days of Imperial Spain in the Philippines. And what better way of fulfilling that dream trip than tagging along my partner for life, Yeyette Perey de Alas.

We were like historical researchers. As a guide, we brought along with us a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s highly informative Intramuros (published in 1988), edited by the late great National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquín.

Nick was a true-blooded Manileño born and bred. He had witnessed so much about the final living years of Spanish Intramuros. Most of Nick’s works are a fine testament of how the Filipinos, particularly the Manileños within and without the Walled City, lived and breathed their every day Intramuros lives. And if I only had my way, I will revive everything that used to be in the original capital city. Because that’s simply the way it should be. Period. No amount of restoration will bring back Intramuros’ old glory as long as squatters are allowed to live within the Walled City, as long as Dick Gordon’s shameful and hispanophobic Light and Sound Museum continues to exist, and as long as the five of the original seven churches aren’t brought back by the Intramuros Administration, the local Catholic Church, and the Philippine Government in general. In the words of Nick, “Intramuros was a collective high altar formed by its churches.”

INTRAMUROS

“And from childhood no amount of familiarity could dull for me the mysterious wondrousness of Intramuros as the very vitals, the hid heart, the secret soul of my city. Every going into it was a penetration — and in there, for a Manileño, it was always like coming home. He was back to his original, essential, eternal island. He was back to roots. Sa loob ng Maynila.” –NICK JOAQUÍN–

PUERTA DEL PARIÁN

Puerta del Parián

LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES

Lyceum of the Philippines

JOSÉ P. LAUREL

José P. Laurel, the founder of Lyceum of the Philippines and the third president of the Philippines.

The only ATM we found in Intramuros.

Revolucionario-turned-traffic enforcer.

BALUARTE DE DILÁO

MAPÚA CARDINALS GYM

The playground of the Mapúa Cardinals.

MAPÚA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
TOMÁS MAPÚA HISTORICAL MARKERS

Did you know that Tomás Mapúa y Bautista was the very first registered Filipino architect?

MAPÚA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Manila High School

COLEGIO DE SANTA ROSA

Colegio de Santa Rosa (1750), one of the two remaining original schools (the other one's Colegio de San Juan de Letrán) in Intramuros.

A view of Colegio de Santa Rosa along Calle Beaterio which leads to the Manila Cathedral (the domed cathedral is visible from here).

PLAZA DE SANTO TOMÁS

PLAZA DE SANTO TOMÁS

Commemorative plaques of the Santo Domingo Church and University of Santo Tomás (Plaza de Santo Tomás).

ARZOBISPO MIGUEL DE BENAVIDES, O.P. (1550-1605)

Monument of Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P., founder of the University of Santo Tomás.

BANCO FILIPINO

The original Universidad de Santo Tomás used to stand here.

REY FELIPE II (1527-1598)

Did you know that our country is the only one that was named after a Spanish monarch? Yep, Las Islas Felipenas was named after King Philip II.

PHILIP II, KING OF SPAIN

THis statue was erected in honor of King Philip II, King of Spain, from whom these islands were named after him.

ADUANA

The Aduana was the original Customs House.

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila

PALACIO ARZOBISPAL

Siesta beside the site where the Ateneo Municipal used to stand.

Calle Real esquina Calle Santa Lucía. Behind the massive walls is the San Agustín Church and Convent.

PUERTA DE SANTA LUCÍa

Puerta de Santa Lucía

Captured!

CALLE SANTA POTENCIANA

Calle Santa Potenciana is the oldest street in Intramuros. This is at the rear wall of San Agustín Church. Notice the original ancient engraved name of the street above the modern tiled lettering. My precious!!!

The building of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CULTURE AND THE ARTS

Ironically, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts is in front of something uncultured and unaesthetic -- a slum area, the bane of contemporary Intramuros. And it has been like this for several years already.

GUSALING CORAZÓN C. AQUINO (PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA)

Here once stood the Cuartel de España (fronting the Lourdes Church and Convent). This is where the popular sport of basketball was first introduced to Filipinos by the Americans.

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS FRATERNAL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC.

ANDA STREET

Calle Anda, named after the great Governor-General Simón de Anda who refused to surrender to the British forces who invaded our country in 1762. Instead, he waged a guerrilla warfare against them. Without a shadow of a doubt, de Anda is one of the greatest Filipino leaders of all time.

MONUMENTO DEL REY CARLOS IV

The bronze statue of King Carlos IV in Plaza Roma was installed in 1824 as a tribute to him for bringing into the country the first smallpox vaccine. The vaccine saved countless lives. Smallpox was then a deadly disease.

The four corners of Plaza Roma used to have balete trees. I'm not really sure if this balete tree --the only one in Plaza Roma today-- is one of them.

COLEGIO DE SAN JUAN DE LETRÁN

Colegio de San Juan de Letrán (Calle Beaterio side).

Colegio de San Juan de Letrán was once an orphanage.

CATEDRAL DE MANILA

The Walled City's Manila Cathedral is the mother of all Catholic churches in the Philippines.

***********************************

Seven were the churches of Intramuros. Let’s re-enact the itinerary. Entering through Victoria Gate and going up Solana, you reached San Francisco, which was a double church, for beside the main one (its creamy pillared façade rose five stories high) was the V.O.T., the chapel of the Franciscan third order, where was venerated a crowned St. Louis robed in ermine.

1. CHAPEL OF THE FRANCISCAN VENERABLE THIRD ORDER & THE SAN FRANCISCO CHURCH AND CONVENT

CHAPEL OF THE FRANCISCAN VENERABLE THIRD ORDER

Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order. The site is now occupied by the Mapúa Institute of Technology.

CHAPEL OF THE FRANCISCAN VENERABLE THIRD ORDER

ST. RITA'S CHAPEL

St. Rita's Chapel (inside the Mapúa Institute of Technology campus) now stands on the very site where the Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Third Order used to be.

SAN FRANCISCO CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Francisco Church and Convent

*********************

At the end of Solana was Santo Domingo, magnificently gothic and rose-colored, with a side portal opening out to the Plaza de Santo Tomás.

2. SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH AND CONVENT

SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH AND CONVENT

Santo Domingo Church and Convent

The neo-Gothic architecture of this legendary church thrilled my wife so much!

BPI

The Bank of the Philippine Islands now occupies the former site of Santo Domingo Church. The church is now in Quezon City.

*********************

Crossing this plaza and passing the university, you came upon the Cathedral, which had wide porches instead of a patio, iron-grille balustrades and, just inside the entrance, a small bronze statue of a seated St. Peter whose toes had been worn smooth by the kisses of the faithful.

3. MINOR BASILICA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL OF MANILA)

MANILA CATHEDRAL

The Manila Cathedral is actually a Roman Catholic Minor Basilica, the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila. The throne of the Archbishop of Manila is inside this centuries-old holy edifice.

MANILA CATHEDRAL

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Manila

The historical marker behind me was one part of the Manila Cathedral which survived heavy bombing during World War II.

PALACIO DEL GOBERNADOR

My wife poses at the steps of the Manila Cathedral. The Palacio del Gobernador is at the background. It used to be the Governor-General's residence.

Plaza Roma is at the background (in front of Manila Cathedral).

Manila Cathedral

MANILA CATHEDRAL

*********************

Past the Cathedral, a left turn at Calle Arzobispo brought you to San Ignacio, wedged between the Ateneo and the episcopal palace; very high iron grilling enclosing the narrow court that formed a portico to this red-brick church, also known as Jesuitas.

4. SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

RUINS OF THE JESUIT SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

San Ignacio Church

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

Could you just imagine that a multitude of faithful Manileños used to pray here?

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

This red-brick church is also known as Jesuitas.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

This church can still be revived.

San Ignacio Church

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

My wife is so thrilled to have touched more than a hundred years of historical bricks.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

I climbed up the spiked iron gates just to get inside the ruins. And what do I see? An excavation instead of renovation.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

Details of a double-column attached to the exterior walls of La Iglesia de San Ignacio.

SAN IGNACIO CHURCH

The letters IA stand for Intramuros Administration, not Inutile Administration, LOL!

*********************

At the end of Arzobispo was San Agustín, with its double convent: the main monastery beside the church and the separate business quarters (or procuration) adjoining the Ateneo.

5. SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Agustín Church and Convent

The moss-covered walls of the San Agustín Monastery along Calle Real.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The green moss covering the monastery walls of San Agustín.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Agustín Church and Convent

The cobbled street of Calle Real del Palacio (now Calle General Antonio Luna). To the right is the Church of San Agustín.

CHURCH OF SAN AGUSTÍN

San Agustín Church is the first church in the Philippines. It was also the last church standing in Intramuros after World War II.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

San Agustín Church is a World Heritage Site -- BE PROUD OF IT!!!

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

One of the beloved stone lions of San Agustín Church.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

The old monastery is on the left side of the church. Inside is the San Agustín Museum. Fr. Pedro Galende, O.S.A., is the curator.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Simply majestic...

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The church's intricately designed domed ceiling. Still intact for centuries.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The church's stylish pulpit. It's no longer used due to its fragility and age.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

The funny looking upside-down pineapple underneath the pulpit.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

There’s a light at the end of every tunnel, err, corridor, hehehe! This leads to the museum and convent/monastery.

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Capilla de la Asunción

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Tomb of Jacobo Zóbel y Zangróniz in the Chapel of the Assumption (Capilla de la Asunción). He was a former mayor of Manila, polyglot, scholar, renowned numismatist, pharmacist, construction magnate, businessman... whew! This guy's the man!

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Did you know that the lower part of this wooden entrance was cut down by the crazed Japanese Imperial Army to accomodate their machine guns? But by the time this photo was taken, it accomodated only the Irrepressible Brother Pepe, LOL!!!

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH AND CONVENT

At the right side of the church (Calle Real del Palacio).

*********************

Going down Calle General Luna and turning left at Calle Escuela, you found yourself at the Recollects’ Iglesia de San Nicolás, least visible of the Intramuros shrines, and with a cobbled patio in front and along one side.

6. SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTIONO CHURCH AND CONVENT

SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTINO CHURCH AND CONVENT

The Church and Convent of the Recollects

SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTINO CHURCH AND CONVENT
SAN NICOLÁS DE TOLENTINO CHURCH AND CONVENT / MANILA BULLETIN

Manila Bulletin now stands on the ground where the San Nicolás de Tolentino Church and Convent once reigned supreme.

*********************

Turning right on Recoletos and doubling back on General Luna, you reached Lourdes Church, or Capuchinos, youngest of the Walled City’s temples. with a painting of the Virgin on its façade.

7. LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

Silahis Arts and Crafts and the Ilustrado Restaurant now occupies the former site of the Lourdes Church and Convent.

LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

Lourdes Church and Convent

LOURDES CHURCH AND CONVENT

*********************

“What alone survives of the old churches, San Agustín, looks extremely lonely without the busy company it had enjoyed for ages sa loob ng Maynila. And San Agustín has practically given up the public celebration of its old fiestas. St. Rita is no longer borne in procession on a float of Maytime roses; and the Virgin of Consolation no longer rides her silver carroza through the streets of Intramuros on the second Sunday of September — a cult commemorated in Fernando Zóbel’s Carroza. To repeat, Intramuros was the conjunto, of all its traditional temples; without its other colleagues, even the Cathedral and San Agustín are merely crown jewels without a crown. “Maybe a revival of piety (using the term in its Latin sense) will in the future inspire the return to Intramuros of all its former churches, chapels, convents and beaterios. Only then will Intramuros be really “restored” — when again it has a San Francisco with its Tuesdays of St. Anthony; a Santa Clara with its unseen choir of vestals; a Lourdes with its Saturday girl crowds; a Santa Isabel with its shrine of the Santo Cristo; a Recoletos with its Friday pilgrims and December feria de Santa Lucía; a San Ignacio with its fashionable confessionals; an Ateneo and a Santo Tomás back on original ground; a Santa Catalina and Beaterio and Santa Rosa come home again; a San Agustín resuming its public ceremonials; a Cathedral restoring the votive function of St. Andrew the Apostle as patron of the Noble and Ever Loyal; and a Santo Domingo again celebrating La Naval de Manila in old Manila. “Only then will Manileños again have a high altar round which they can gather as a coherent community — sa loob ng Maynila.” —NICK JOAQUÍN—

Nuestra Señora Del Santíssimo Rosario De La Naval De Manila

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Today we celebrate the feast of Nuestra Señora Del Santissimo Rosario De La Naval De Manila. The miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin is of course in Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City (and Nick Joaquín’s National Artist medal is underneath her feet). But may we never forget Her original home…

La Iglesia de Santo Domingo. Destroyed both by the Japanese and (especially) the Americans. A double crime.

SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH

Intramuros will never ever be complete without her original seven churches. And that includes La Iglesia de Santo Domingo.

Iglesia de San Agustín (Intramuros, Manila)

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Guess I have to do this again…

SAN AGUSTÍN CHURCH

Almost two years ago, on 29 October 2007, I planned of embarking on at least a bimonthly trip to any Philippine province of my choice. So far so bad, I’ve been to less than 10. Laughable and deplorable at the same time. Perhaps the only major travel that I did since that day was when I visited Chabacano-speaking Cavite City with some of my officemates (17 November 2007).

On that cool October morning, my wife accompanied me to San Agustín Church, the first church in the Philippines (constructed from 1587 to 1607 — an incredible 20-year span!), to pray for guidance. Unfortunately, when we went there, the church doors were closed. And time and budget didn’t permit us to go inside the church’s museum.

I’ve been to that church –one of two of my favorite churches (the other one being the miraculous Shrine of Santo Sepulcro— quite a number of times (been inside the museum only once). It has a special attachment to me. Maybe because our country’s regular religious rites began there. Or maybe I’m just amazed how that church withstood the test of time. During World War II, when the rest of Manila was ablaze with destroyed buildings and rotting flesh, it was the last church left standing (but with a gaping hole on its side).

Of course, I have to mention that the remains of our country’s first leader, the great conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi, is buried there.

Maybe one major reason why I feel so attached to San Agustín is that it is the first church established not only in the Philippines but also in the heart of its capital, Intramuros, the original Manila, “la Manila de mis amores…”

Our country is so rich in history and culture. Reading about it is not enough. One has to travel to experience it. So this month of October –also known as the Spanish Month across the Spanish-speaking world– I would like to relaunch that aborted “flight”…

Read the San Agustín article (complete with pictures of my cute self and my ever-supportive wife) that I wrote two years ago here.

However… (rhymes with the word “translator”, hehehe!)

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