Sunday, August 24, 2008


The two things that come to mind when you mention the place La Loma are lechon and the cemetery complex (namely: La Loma, North and Chinese). In jest, Manileños would claim that eating too much of the former can lead to an untimely eternal rest at the latter.

Historically speaking, La Loma, was one of the areas in Manila during the revolution, in which incidents of fierce fighting between the Filipino forces and the Spaniards took place. It was because of a Spanish blockhouse that was located there.

Blockhouses were built as defenses by the Spaniards during the revolution. These had been part of an arc following the land boundaries of Manila, stretching from the Bocana de Vitas in the north to Fort San Antonio Abad (Malate) in the south, and formed what the Spanish called the Primo de Rivera Line.

Blockhouses were built by the Spaniards about one kilometer apart from one another. Most were made of wood protected by an earthwork parapet.
The wooden blockhouses resembles oversized dovecoats (bahay calapate). Others were made of stone and rubble called fortines in Spanish. Of the eight blockhouses north of the Pasig, two were fortines: one at La Loma (designated Blockhouse 2) and the other near the Santa Mesa-San Francisco road going through Barrio Santol, (designated as Blockhouse 7). Wooden blockhouses could accommodate 25 men, while the stone fortines about 40.

During the revolution, the blockhouses were the scene of furious combat between the attacking Filipinos and the defending Spaniards. The rebels constantly harassed the Spaniards on both sides of the city, but the big guns of Malate and Santa Mesa kept the rebels at bay.

On August 13, 1898, as Manila began to capitulate to the Americans, intense fighting went on at Blockhouses 2, 3 and 4 at Maypajo and La Loma, as well as on the central point of Santa Mesa, Pandacan and Nagtahan where the objective was the rotonda (traffic circle of Sampaloc). The Spaniards only left their positions when the American troops relieved them.

After the mock battle of August 13, 1898 between the Americans and the Spaniards, the Filipino revolutionary forces were not allowed to occupy the main portion of Manila. They were even pressured out of the positions they had already occupied, which was mostly in the south.

Major General Elwell S. Otis invoked the terms of the Spanish capitulation to mean turning over to the Americans the "full occupancy of the city and the defenses of Manila and its suburbs, including responsibility for the lives and property of the inhabitants."

Aguinaldo, while protesting, deemed it more diplomatic to accede to Otis' representations. The Filipinos demanded, among other things, the occupation of the former Spanish blockhouses, in case Manila should revert to Spanish control as a result of the peace negotiations then underway. Also, these blockhouses provided the only shelter for the Filipino troops in those areas.

Otis affirmed that he could not legally and formally permit this. However, he was so impressed with the earnestness and honesty of purpose and convictions of Dr. T.H. Pardo de Tavera (Aguinaldo's emissary), that on October 27, 1898, Otis said that he would not raise any objection -- unless otherwise overruled by higher authority -- for the Filipino forces' continued occupancy of the blockhouses north of the Pasig River. These followed the city boundary of Manila from Tondo to San Juan bridge.

In addition, working arrangements were devised to prevent front-line friction between the Filipinos and the occupying Americans. Armed men were not allowed to cross each other's lines, and a buffer area was established between them. On the other hand, unarmed Filipinos (even in uniform), could enter and leave Manila as they pleased, while unarmed Americans were allowed in Filipino-held territory.

Notwithstanding, such working arrangements were not to last for too long.

Wounded U.S. soldiers at San Juan Bridge - Santa Mesa, Manila, 1899
Washington Volunteer Infantry en route to hospital during engagement.
Wisconsin Philippines Image Collection
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Philippines Image Collection

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The Opening Actions of the Philippine-American War, February 4-5, 1899
Benito J. Legarda, Jr.
Published by Bookmark, Inc.

Related link:

Pvt. William Walter Grayson - U.S. Nebraska Volunteers - by Ka Tony

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posted by Señor Enrique at 1:09 PM


Blogger the donG said...

i really don't know much about la loma. i only know that the lechon is really good there.

thanks to this info. never tried their lechon yet.

August 25, 2008 1:45 AM  

Blogger EM said...

I grew up in Sampaloc and la loma is a very familiar place. We have frequented the place for all the lechons we have feasted on special occassions. We have visited our relatives resting at the North Cementery. I even had my youngest born in Chinese General Hospital. La Loma is truly rich in history.

August 25, 2008 10:20 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

La Loma is on the the Quezon City side of the Manila-Quezon City border, donG. A few years ago, they started having a lechon parade to boost the local lechon industry. I am yet to take pictures of the parade, though.

BTW, there's also a cockfighting arena in the area.

August 25, 2008 10:49 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

La Loma is indeed next door to Sampaloc, and how could I have forgotten about the Chinese General Hospital, EM? Hmmm ... now that you've reminded me, I will post a separate feature on it. Thanks!

As for a superb feature on La Loma's lechon industry, check out Sidney's site:

August 25, 2008 11:34 AM  

Blogger EM said...

Thanks for the link Senior! It was as you said a superb feature! Wow, the images covered so many aspects of making the lechon. The author has a talent of catching the people aspect behind a seemingly ordinary object. After that, the object is not ordinary anymore.

thanks again.

August 25, 2008 12:15 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You're welcome, EM! Yes, Sidney did a fine job on that photo series :)

August 27, 2008 2:04 AM  

Anonymous in lechon Philippine said...

I know where in the Philippines can find La Loma, and all I know is there was so many lechons there.


October 21, 2009 10:27 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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