Saturday, January 27, 2007


The present Manila Cathedral in Intramuros is the sixth structure erected on the site. The very first one, made of nipa and bamboo, was built in 1581 but was razed to the ground by a fire two years later. Another one, this time made of wood and stone, was built in 1593, but earthquakes weakened its foundation; it had to be completely demolished. A new cathedral was later built on the site. It was the most impressive with three naves and seven side chapels; however, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1645.

A makeshift chapel next to the ruins was built, though temporarily, while the new Archbishop of Manila, Miguel de Poblete begged for alms from Manila’s residents to fund the construction of a new cathedral. In 1645, having collected sufficient funding, the fourth cathedral began its construction; it was completed in 1662 and would last for two centuries.

Unfortunately, during a Mass in 1863, it collapsed and killed hundreds of worshippers due to a massive earthquake. A fifth church was eventually built in 1879, and although it survived the 1880 earthquake, its toppled belltower was never rebuilt.

During the Battle of Manila in 1945, many local civilians were held hostage and subsequently massacred by the Japanese inside the cathedral. The American liberating forces, in retaliation, carpet bombed the entire cathedral and the surrounding vicinity to smithereens. Ruins remained on the site for many years until concerned Manila residents convinced the Catholic church in 1953 to build a new cathedral.

In 1958, the sixth Manila Cathedral was inaugurated. It was designed by Fernando Ocampo; Filipino and Italian artists created the interior artworks; and the stained glass windows were designed and built by Galo Ocampo.

Pope John Paul, during his first visit to the Philippines in 1981, elevated the Manila Cathedral to the rank of Basilica Minore and was officially named Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 8:19 PM


Anonymous kyels said...

I remember my trip to the Philippines and I was there visiting the Manila Cathedral. I stood there in awe, gaping at the architecture.


January 27, 2007 11:10 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Looking at this pic has a calming effect on me although I see rain is threatening to fall from the dark clouds...

How did you take this photo? Were you suspended from a heli or something? LOL!

January 28, 2007 6:38 AM  

Anonymous vonjobi said...

maybe the clouds mean rain, but maybe senor enrique was also saying something about the future of the catholic church =)

btw, it's time to get caught reading:

January 28, 2007 7:00 AM  

Anonymous tutubi said...

nice pic of the dome et al

you're posting pics of intramuros due to your workshop.

i dug up old posting of mine regarding the "lost"fort of intramuros particularly fort san antonio abad

it's hidden inside the BSP compound at the back of the metropolitan museum

January 28, 2007 6:00 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, this is some accomplishment, Kyels. It's really beautiful. They've also recently refurbished the organ pipe and had a grand concert before the holidays.

January 28, 2007 7:39 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I shot with a 135mm focal distance setting, Rhoda, from the grounds of Fort Santiago. Needn't go aerial or up on some rooftop. :) Yes, it does exude a sort of soothing effect.

January 28, 2007 7:41 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's one area of discussion that I fear to thread, Vonjobi ... hehehe. That could be very sensitive issue, especially being here in the Philippines.

I intend to present that "get caught reading" photo project to a camera club as a photo contest :)

January 28, 2007 7:44 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! Didn't know anything about Fort San Antonio Abad till now, Tito (just checked your entry).

As they say, you learn something new everyday :)

January 28, 2007 7:49 PM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Was inside this church a little over two years ago for a wedding.

Was also impressed with the side altars with their huge statues or icons.

We found the parking challenging, though. But thanks anyway to the "watch your car" boys who also look for any leftover space to park.

The general ambiance is that it appears to be in some kind of perpetual semi-darkness. It is never bright enough inside the church. I suppose it contributes to its air of solemnity.

But no doubt about it, it is very impressive structure. And old SF churches look similar, except that one does not sweat inside the building even in the midst of summer. This invites one to stay longer and meditate.

The first picture is superb. Tropical skies always look better in pictures.

January 29, 2007 5:53 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Amadeo!

The top picture I took during the late afternoon a month ago; whereas, the rest were only yesterday morning and added them to this entry last night night.

It is dark inside this church, you're right compared to other churches; might also have to do with cost-cutting measures. I usually spend a few minutes here to meditate for a few minutes prior to attending my photography classes nearby.

January 29, 2007 7:06 AM  

Anonymous carla said...

have you tried to submit some of your works to some magazines or some other publications? seriously.

i love the first one. the sky does have a soothing/relaxing effect.

January 29, 2007 8:21 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Haven't tried submitting any of my photos, Carla, but Fuji will be hosting a Photo Critique at their booth at next week's PhotoWorld Manila Event in Glorietta. We were all encouraged to sign up. I'm planning to submit mine for photo journalis/human interest category with the photo editor of Philippine Daily Inquirer who will be among the experts invited by Fuji.

January 29, 2007 8:59 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

That first picture is awesome!

This is a very interesting piece of the history of this church.

January 29, 2007 1:18 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I am very impressed by the first picture! This is beautiful!

I hope you will post your picture together with the remarks of the editor of the Inquirer. Looks like fun.

January 29, 2007 1:39 PM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

That's a lot of history behind the cathedral and though all those happenstances were not pleasant at all, I believe they put strength and cathedral to the present day Manila Cathedral.

January 29, 2007 2:31 PM  

Blogger Belle TH said...

indeed, the first picture is, by far, the most impressive one. i love the different shades of the clouds which seem to match with the colors of the structures. thanks for sharing.

January 29, 2007 2:33 PM  

Blogger sheilamarie said...

Hola Eric! I have a lot of catching up to do. This is the 1st time i've connected to the internet since I arrived here in Manila. I love the pic of the church! Great shot!

January 29, 2007 9:58 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Would you believe, Irene, it wasn't until I came back to Manila from NYC when I only got a chance to go ans appreciate this cathedral? Although MIT campus is within Intramuros, we never -- not even once -- toured some parts of it.

I'm not a religious person yet, I enjoy visiting churches for the tranquility they offer.

Thanks :)

January 30, 2007 5:53 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Shutter Box has a feature about Fuji's PhotoWorld Manila festivities, Sidney. Check this out:

Are you going?

January 30, 2007 6:03 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I agree, Major Tom, all those unfortunate events add up to create the unique character of this church.

January 30, 2007 6:06 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Belle TH! This was taken during the late afternoon and the colors of the setting sun added warmth and drama to the nearby structures.

January 30, 2007 6:08 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Welcome to Manila, Sheilamarie! Wish you the best vacation. When you have time, take your hubby to a Carlos Celdran walking tour :)

Enjoy and ingat!

January 30, 2007 6:10 AM  

Anonymous LAR said...

I like the 1st and 2nd photos. It's very dramatic. Very, very nice!

January 30, 2007 9:53 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you, LAR! I'm also drawn to that second picture. The rest were to give an idea of the awesome interior to those who haven't visited this cathedral.

January 30, 2007 11:06 AM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

Astig talaga yung first picture, apocalyptic ang dating. The interior shots and details really capture a grandeur that I never knew Philippine churches could have. Or maybe your photography skills are just miraculous, hehe.

January 31, 2007 12:50 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oo nga, Dave. Baka nasaniban ng mga mabubuting epiritu camera ko ... hehehe.

Thanks, Dave! I was surprised myself that the picture of the clocktower and dome came out interesting. The interior shots I had to stealthily accomplish to avoid getting thrown out. :)

January 31, 2007 10:29 AM  

Blogger BCS said...

The colors are perfect if you'll ask me... I love the mood... wonderful shots! :)

September 28, 2008 11:22 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you, BCS!

September 29, 2008 7:22 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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