Tuesday, September 11, 2007


According to Reinerio Albais, a poet and essayist, if Michelangelo had the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling as the showcase of his awesome artistic skills, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, a National Artist for Visual Arts, has Manila City Hall as his.

In the anteroom of the Mayor’s Office is where Botong's mural of many parts can be found. Considered by many as his obra maestra, this mural captures a visual history of the City of Manila and the country. Albais further claims that the
lyrical and heroic style of this particular Botong mural subsequently inspired a “school” after his death in 1969.

Another city hall treasure, one of the most recognizable landmarks in Manila, is the building's clock tower in which foreign engineers from Italy and Switzerland were once tasked to restore its mechanism to give an accurate and synchronized time.

According to Reynaldo Gatchalian, the city hall’s building superintendent and maintenance officer, there were many clock repair crews who attempted to revive the clock. Despite its repair, electromechanical disorders kept stalling the clock’s mechanism. It was finally repaired when P100,000 worth of local spare parts were installed. Moreover, in the previous administration's attempt to make the city hall clock tower a lure for tourists, an elevator was put up to transport sightseers to the clock, which is located at the 11th floor of the City Hall tower.

So there you go, folks -- two very interesting reasons to go and visit the city hall of Manila.


posted by Señor Enrique at 7:46 AM


Anonymous carlotta said...

wow the idea of allowing tourists to go up the clock tower is a great idea! i hope i can go there soon =)

September 11, 2007 8:52 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I may go to the city hall soon, Carla, and find out for myself if visitors are allowed inside the mayor's anteroom, as well as confirm if tourists are indeed welcome to go up the clock tower.

September 11, 2007 9:44 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Please keep us posted!
Never heard that it was allowed to visit the city hall and the clock tower.
Sounds exciting !

Why don't you organize guided tours of the City Hall à la Carlos? ;-)

September 11, 2007 10:37 AM  

Anonymous kyels said...

That's interesting! I'm sure lots of people would love to visit the clock tower.


September 11, 2007 12:56 PM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

Sounds good, like Sidney said. I had always been in the vicinity of City Hall when I was in Manila, but I never thought that a functioning government building could be a tourist spot---well, White House sometimes serve as a tourist destination.

September 11, 2007 2:19 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I will definitely advise everyone, Sidney.

A city hall tour guide? Jeeez ... I don't think I'm savvy enough ... hehehe.

September 11, 2007 3:59 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The lights are also turned on nightly nowadays, Kyels, which really makes this structure stand out in the evenings. Additional lights were also installed to highlight the tower.

September 11, 2007 4:03 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And Sidney does make sense about someone conducting a tour of Manila City Hall, Major Tom.

But you know what? Malacanang Palace should also have a regular guided tour scheduled for the general public even if only for certain sections only. I don't think it's right that Malacanang should be deemed totally off limits to the Filipino people.

September 11, 2007 4:09 PM  

Blogger dodongflores said...

I had been into this Manila City Hall for a lot of times. In fact, we had our product exhibit sometime in 2001. But I haven't heard of that escalator yet. Please do inform me if you would organize a tour (as suggested by Sidney). I might join too!

September 11, 2007 5:43 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Don't expect for me to organize a guided tour of Manila City Hall, Dodong ... hehehe. Perhaps, Ivan Mandy or Carlos Celdran may be up for the task.

However, I will duly advise everyone once I've confirmed about the clock tower access for visitors.

September 11, 2007 5:50 PM  

Blogger Photowalker said...

The clock tower lights up everyday at 6pm. I observed that before I took my city hall night shot a few months back. But I didn't know about the 11th floor?

I saw the news on TV a few years back when former mayor Lito Atienza was announcing the restoration of the clock tower to have it showing the correct time every time. They even installed a generator for it in case of power failure.

September 11, 2007 9:02 PM  

Blogger g_mirage said...

Senor, your photos and trivia altogether makes the 'not interesting', so interesting! Why did I say 'not interesting?' I often come here to have interviews or take photos of certain individuals...never have I viewed it as a special building, but just like the nbi, dot or other govt buildings...nothing special...

I could only remember traffic congestion and the beautiful landscape opposite (partly intramuros). But maybe things have changed from those days. Ah wait, I remember the lights which really makes it stands out. =)

(My memories are a little rattled...is there an SM or Robinson's Mall behind?)

September 11, 2007 11:11 PM  

Anonymous sardonicnell said...

that's truly a landmark! i can't believe na dinadaan daanan ko lang sya before and didn't explore the beauty of this bldg. eka ng nila nasa huli ang pagsisisi.

but i'll make sure to visit this place and a lot more when i get a chance to visit manila =)

September 12, 2007 1:24 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Have some memories of City Hall from times when I used to tag along with my father and Arsenic was the mayor. They were classmates at AdeM, so they would greet each other when they met.

When you vist, please take pictures of the upper floors where the offices are/were.

And I cannot forget that part of Taft Ave, passing by City Hall and seeing up ahead the imposing Post Office building on Lawton, before going up Quezon Bridge.

And remember the AgriFina circle toward Luneta? (Where you had the Depts of Agriculture, Finance, Bu. of Lands, etc clustered together.) All old imposing structures with ornate columns.

September 12, 2007 6:32 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! A dedicated generator for the tower clock in case of power failure. Talk about serious restoration :)

I have to give credit where credit is due; therefore, I must acknowledge that it was your set of night time photographs, Photowalker, that inspired me to get out there and start learning/practicing this challenging yet fun aspect of photography.

It was frustrating at first, but once I started getting the results I wanted, everything seemed truly worthwhile. Have more to learn in terms of settings and etc.

Again, thanks, Photowalker!

September 12, 2007 7:09 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

There is SM Manila near the city hall. G. Mirage.

There is active efforts to maintain what has been restored by the previous administration -- the building itself was recently repainted, the esplanade between it and Universidad de Manila, as well as the park in front of it are always kept clean. Although I noticed that some bulbs that are no longer working in lamp posts are yet to be replaced.

Overall, it is a nice place nowadays.

September 12, 2007 7:21 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

My eldest sister's first job was in the Assessor's Office in Manila City Hall, Nell, and this may be why the building has some significance in my memory. And one can't help but notice it when passing by.

Yes, it is indeed a city landmark.

September 12, 2007 7:26 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! Didn't know your father and the feisty Mayor Lacson were schoolmates, Amadeo. Love his trademark Rayban aviator shades.

I will take pictures of the upper floor offices if allowed, as well those buildings that surround the circle you speak of. One of those is now the Department of Tourism building.

September 12, 2007 7:30 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to R. Abais comment, I think it's disgusting to compare a sacred place like Sistine Chapel to a City Hall. He should compare chapels or cathedrals to like churches but not to a city hall. Botong is a great Filipino artist but he's not a Michaelangelo.

September 13, 2007 3:21 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I don't think Albais meant to equate Michaelangelo with Botong, or the Manila City Hall with the Sistine Chapel; rather, he was merely commenting on the respective showcase of each artist's impressive works.

No Filipino can ever be a Michaelangelo who was white, Italian, and gay. Unarguably, a Pinoy can be a raving homosexual, but never, I repeat, never a European or American ... hehehe.

So calm down, for there's no need for hysterics.

September 13, 2007 9:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

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.


About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile


This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.