Saturday, July 28, 2007


Located in the midst of Manila's university belt, adjacent to the University of The East on S. H. Loyola Street (formerly Lepanto) is the Gota de Leche, which means "drop of milk." Designed by Arcadio Arellano in 1915, one of the founding fathers of Philippine architecture, this exceptional structure was built to serve as the home of La Proteccion de la Infancia, a charitable organization that provided free pediatric care and food to the indigent children of Manila.

Modeled after the Ospedale degli Innocenti, an orphanage in Florence created by renowned Renaissance architect Brunelleschi, the Gota de Leche has been hailed as a prime example of a successful adaptation of Italian Renaissance architecture to the tropics; an icon in Philippine architecture since its completion in 1917.

Oftentimes, as soon as heritage buildings in Manila start showing signs of significant decay, their owners succumb to handsome offers by real estate developers. However, the owners of the Gota de Leche opted instead to restore their building to its former grace and stature. The UNESCO Asia Pacific eventually recognized such restoration efforts, awarding the Gota de Leche an Honorable Mention in the 2003 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

Today, the charitable organization of Gota de Leche continues to provide services to the area's indigent families. A part of the building's space is leased to an NGO organization on women's rights, while its main facilities and grounds are rented for private functions.

Gemma Cruz Araneta (right), president of the Heritage Conservation Society.
Photo was taken during HCS' general assembly held at the Gota de Leche last June.

* * *

859 S. H. Loyola Street,
Sampoloc, Manila

for more information, contact
Dorie at the HCS office: 521-2239/522-2497


posted by Señor Enrique at 7:36 AM


Anonymous Jervis said...

very informative post! :D
it's nice to read there are still those who care to restore memoirs of our past. this is something for us to cheer about.

July 28, 2007 11:44 AM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

Very elegant place indeed. If only the other owners of old structures could be as forthright as that of Gota de Leche, Manila would have been as quaint place to visit as Milan or Barcelona. Counting with this those that were destroyed during the war.

July 28, 2007 1:30 PM  

Blogger ladybug said...

I love the architecture! I'm so glad that historical buildings are being preserved. Meron pa pala nito. Hope to visit it one of these days.

July 28, 2007 1:47 PM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

if i am not mistaken, sometime in the 80s, this was the site of a computer school, one of the very firsts to provide computer classes. my friend went there and i would sometimes tag along. i liked the name of the bldg that's why it stuck to me. i wonder what happened to that school and what was it's name.

July 28, 2007 3:10 PM  

Blogger febeth said...

Sorry If I dont comment on the place.Nakita ko kasi si Ms Gemma. I hope I would age like her! She is still very pretty at her age(I guess she is over 60yrs old)

July 28, 2007 4:39 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The HCS is quite active in this regard, Jervis; however, as we all know, participation of the general public is much needed to sustain any and all heritage preservation efforts.

We do have some architectural gems obscured by soot and the usual decay which badly need attention in order to restore them.

July 28, 2007 4:56 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Major Tom, this is truly a very nice and elegant structure and kudos to the owners for their decision to preserve it.

I've seen some photographs of Manila during "peacetime" and it was a beautiful city. But the war destroyed most of it.

July 28, 2007 5:01 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It is adjacent to UE on Lepanto near corner Claro M. Recto Avenue, Ladybug.

BTW, it is the only property in the area with a fairly large, though gated, front lawn.

July 28, 2007 5:07 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Whoa! I didn't know that, Photo Cache.

Turning it to a computer school was probably a way for them to reuse some space in that building prior to its full restoration. Not a bad idea, though -- having a school in that nice property.

July 28, 2007 5:10 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Not sure at all about her age, Febeth, but I do know she remains to be one elegantly beautiful and witty woman.

Over lunch, after touring the Museo ng Maynila, she revealed her beauty secret: "My involvement with heritage conservation projects keeps me looking and feeling young," she claims!

So there you go, ladies -- one beauty tip from a once international beauty queen. Needless to say, HCS can use more beautiful women as members :)

July 28, 2007 5:58 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

"My involvement with heritage conservation projects keeps me looking and feeling young," she claims! (re: Gemma Cruz)

Oh, Eric... now, I want to reconsider that National Heritage Commission post here in our city. hehehe.

Nice pic of a nice building. And so aptly named for its very purpose. :)

BTW, speaking of providing services to indigent families, particularly feeding of children....

Won't it anger anyone to know that many of our social workers at the social welfare department bring home supplies/donations of milk, oatmeal, nutri-noodles for their own consumption, or even for selling? Recipients of these goods are supposedly the poor families, and yet sino ang umuubos at nakikinabang?

I have direct basis for this. Saw/witnessed this practice with my own two eyes. Years ago, when I was still single, I stayed as boarder in a house where the owner's daughter was an employee of this government agency. And accordingly, it was a very common practice, and tolerated and therefore no big deal! Kasi daw, maliit lang ang suweldo, kaya binabawi na lang sa supplies. Aysus!

July 28, 2007 11:09 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

On behalf of my fellow university belt hippies who used to seek shelter on the grounds of Gota De Leche, I would also like to thank the owners for the effort put into preserving a royal landmark in this area of Manila. Saludo also to Heritage Society headed by "still hot after all these years" Gemma Cruz Araneta and the service that Gota De leche extends to the indigent residents of Manila..Mabuhay kayong lahat!

July 29, 2007 1:30 AM  

Blogger Aura said...

Glad to know that there are still people who cares to preserve our heritage..It is very important for our country´s identity, we are loosing it.
One thing i appreciate in european countries is the preservation of their own heritage...beautiful century old buildings, castles ,palaces & many more.And for me the most important of all is the use of their own language even if they have to speak at the UN or European parliament, every member of the EU will speak in their own native tongue as they cannot agree which language to use.
On our way to Chocolate Hills in Bohol last year, we visited a century old church ,they have a very beautiful altar that if well preserved & taken cared of, I would compare the work as in some old churches here in Portugal. My husband felt bad when he saw the deterioration of the altar & all the other things that were used during that period, its a pity to see them wasted someday if nobody would help them with the preservation.
Dont we have anyone in the goverment who should be responsible in looking after our cultural heritage?

Best regards

July 29, 2007 6:30 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"Dont we have anyone in the goverment who should be responsible in looking after our cultural heritage?"

Best person to answer this question, Aura, might be Rhoda. She was recently offered a position at the National Heritage Commission which might function in the same way as the National Heritage Society.

Nonetheless, it is the general public's interest in such that will sustain this kind of programs. Perhaps, our other fellow bloggers will help out by writing articles every now and then about our heritage and historical landmarks.

There is also another non-government effort, YTRIP, but it focuses on attracting the interests of our youth to engage in local tourism as well as in heritage awareness. You may want to check out its website:

Portugal does a wonderful job with its heritage and landmark preservation initiatives. I had seen many beautiful pictures of its cities which are well maintained and cared for.

Thanks Aura!

July 29, 2007 7:09 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It's truly remarkable how the Gota de Leche turned, Pete. I'm sure its owners' generous spirit must be appreciated by many Manilenyos. That structure alone certainly brings pride to many folks in the area.

By the way, do you remember what some space of this building was being used for at the time you used to seek shelter there? Was it a computer school already as Photo Cache had mentioned?

There is also, on a separate structure, but right beside it is a restaurant. Perhaps, profits from which help defray the maintenance costs of Gota de Leche.

July 29, 2007 7:24 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That is just shameful. How dare those government employees pilfer what was supposedly intended to be handed out to the indigent communities? Outrageous!

On another note, yes, Rhoda ... that's exactly what Gemma claims. So you might reconsider the offer you received recently ... hehehe.

July 29, 2007 7:28 AM  

Anonymous kyels said...

Personally, I feel that everyone should have a thought or two about preserving their country's heritages because those play an important role in our lives as the younger generation needs to learn about the history of those heritages so that they can appreciate their country more.

Succumbing to real estate is not a good option but often times, people decide to go that way which is sad, di ba?

By the way, the building is beautiful. I like the color.

July 29, 2007 9:42 AM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

I don't think it was a computer school then, this was in the late 60's and early 70's. i can recall a very nice Belgian or Italian nun who used to come out and talked to us and a guard/caretaker who used to keep the grounds nice and green.

July 29, 2007 10:07 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"Succumbing to real estate is not a good option but often times, people decide to go that way which is sad, di ba?"

Can't really blame them, Kyels, because most bought properties as investments; to profit from in due time. But hopefully, there will be investors who will preserve one or two of their holdings for the sake of heritage preservation.

July 29, 2007 4:52 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

So I assume then, Pete, that during that time, the Gota de Leche was entirely used for its charitable endeavors. Thanks!

July 29, 2007 4:53 PM  

Anonymous Ferdz said...

Another neat heritage structure. A lot of blogs have been covering this lately, especially those who joined Ivan Mandy's FEU tour.

I myself have't been to this place as well. Even the time when I was studying there i UBelt, I wasn't familiar with this. I shold try to visit the place in the future given the chance.

July 29, 2007 5:23 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You have got to check it out, Ferdz. It's located only in Manila ... no Indiana Jones-type travels to far away islands necessary ... hehehe.

Yes, I know Eric of Byahilo covered this immediately after we went there (same day after Ivan's dry run of his FEU tour last June). I had gone there before to take a photo for a calendar project so I sort of acted as their guide from FEU to Lepanto :)

I think it's wonderful that Ivan has now included the Gota de Leche in his FEU tour. We really need to support such heritage treasures right in our midsts!

And kudos to Ivan Mandy for doing a great job in promoting awareness in our local heritage.

July 29, 2007 6:09 PM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

So it's not just mayors in your photo collection but also former beauty queens!

I like it how there's generous amounts of greenery around the structure.

July 29, 2007 11:30 PM  

Blogger carlotta said...

we also went to gota de leche by request of tutubi. i really love the staircase inside. it's a good thing people cared enough to restore it, now locals and tourists alike can now enjoy the place. =)

July 30, 2007 5:41 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

By the way, Carla, their restaurant right beside it isn't bad at all. They actually handled the catering for HCS' annual assembly last June and everything was quite tasty :)

The more people visit this place and the more they talk or blog about it, including our other heritage structures, the more we'll inspire the interest and support of the general public for our conservation and preservation projects :)

July 30, 2007 6:31 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

This is quite a substantial piece of prime real estate, Dave. There's a huge parking area at the back also. But the green in front makes the place even grander.

By the way, Butch Zialcita is often present with Gemma at HCS meetings/tours. Perhaps, I will invite you to one in the near future, ok?

July 30, 2007 6:35 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Folks, Ivan has walking tour of FEU scheduled for August 18th, which you might want to join:

A FEU Good Men!
Deco-dancing through the Far Eastern University Campus

When: August 18, 2007
Saturday at 9:00 AM (1.5 hours)
Rate: Free (gratuities appreciated) - Slots Limited
Meet at FEU Gate 4 along Morayta
(now Nicanor Reyes) Street
Details at
Contact number: +63917-329-16-22

July 30, 2007 10:46 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

Is that the same Gemma Cruz who was Miss Philippines 1965 ba yun? Oh my, she still looks gorgeous. I have a childhood friend who was named after her, also Gemma Cruz. :)

And oh yeah, that building looks lovely too.

August 01, 2007 11:49 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The one and only, Irene, and even better in person; a wonderful conversationalist as well. She writes a column in Manila Bulletin, which everyone should check out :)

She does an excellent job as president of the Heritage Conservation Society.

August 01, 2007 1:34 PM  

Blogger Ebb Tide said...

Found your site at MM's blog. Enjoyed viewing it. Very interesting topics and photos. This heritage building "Gota De Leche" caught my attention. Also the name of the street, S.H. Loyola St. I haven't been back to Manila for 31 yrs. It's good to know that Lepanto is now named after a former uncle. "Uncle Loy" that what we called him.

August 08, 2007 2:16 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And I was away for a bit longer than you have, Ebb Tide. About 80 percent of Metro Manila's landscape looked completely foreign when I came back; and many streets had changed names.

Nowadays, I drive along S.H. Loyola whenever avoiding the traffic snarls on Espana Blvd. I can now identify this street with your "Uncle Loy."

Many thanks for dropping by :)

August 08, 2007 6:36 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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