Sunday, July 06, 2008


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Mabuhay Ang Quiapo!

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posted by Señor Enrique at 12:45 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, I think this is an unexplored part of Manila. I remember that I have spoken to the owners of one of the houses there (If I remember it right, it was the third image from top) -suggesting to convert a part of their beautiful ancestral home into a weekend bed and breakfast or a cafe (a source of income).

San Sebastian Street is quiet and some old houses are still well-kept and being resided if not by the original owners at least the relatives. Perhaps it is the reason why they are hesitant in opening their houses for other uses.

July 06, 2008 1:50 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

I hope you'll find these facts about Quiapo & San Sebastian Church interesting...

San Sebastian Church, Plaza del Carmen, Quiapo

Quiapo was a place with streams and rivulets, from the Pasig river that latter would transform into filthy esteros. On its estero floated the “kiyapo” (Manuel Blanco’s Flora de Filipinas scientific name, “Pistia Stratiotes”) a cabbage like plant that gave the place its name.

Year 1592, the first stone of the Quiapo Church was laid as its foundation. It was a poor man’s Parroquia de Quiapo in which San Juan Bautista was its patron saint. One day in 1650 a kneeling lifesize Christ, dressed in a deep maroon robe with a huge cross on its shoulder arrived, “ Nuestro Padre Senor Jesus Nazareno” or just simply called “Senor”. Carved out of dark hardwood in Mexico by Aztecs and like “Nuestra Senor de la Paz y Bien Viaje” of Antipolo came with the Manila/Acapulco Galleon. “Senor”, replaced Quiapo’s patron saint San Juan Bautista. I remember my father who made a pledged to “Senor” have to go to Quiapo every January to fulfill his vow, on its yearly “pasan”. The “carroza” of the Black Christ is borne on the shoulders of his group, “Hijos de Nazareno”. My father barefoot, dressed in t-shirt, rolled-up maong pants and white towel draped on his shoulder, trying to reach “Senor” so he can rub his white towel, that he wrapped me with, when I’m sick.

Quiapo was a fishing and farming district, overnight turned into a metal, sculpture, goldsmith, silversmith, blacksmith, marble and wood carvers of santos for churches in Manila. But Quiapo is not the only church in the district, there’s also San Sebastian church in Plaza del Carmen. A gothic church with a twin 52 meter tall towers, made of all steel.

Inside are stained glass windows from Belgium, of brilliant hues, scenes from the holy book. Chandeliers by Filipino designer, Isabelo Tampico hanged. Hand curved altars, confession boxes, pulpit by Eulogio Carmel and Lorenzo Rocha. Image of “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” at the main altar, which came from Mexico, brought by the Agustinian Recolletos in 1611 and above the Lady is the image of the saint suffering because of his Christian faith, San Sebastian.

San Sebastian was completed in 1890, the only steel basilica in the Philippines. The original church was a simple chapel in 17th century, which was destroyed by an earthquake, in which the statue of Our Lady of Carmel remained standing. A new church was built, but then again another strong earthquake crumbled it into pieces in 1863, then another in 1880 tore down the third church on the same site. An engineer, Genaro Palacios presented an idea of an all-steel basilica, the first ever in the world!

San Sebastian is the first pre-fabricated all-steel basilica. A total of 50,000 tons of steel being shipped from Belgium, for two years. The gothic church though only opened its door on special occasions and only for the use of the students of San Sebastian College. The lonely, cold, all-steel church stood forsaken. On August 13, 1975, San Sebastian was named a parish and opened its doors to parishioners. The first parish priest was Recollect Fr. Antonio Calvo and was succeeded by Fr. German Chicote. Names like Aranetas, Arellanos, Bautistas, Genatos, Hidalgos, Nakpils, Legardas, Tuasons, Valdezes, Tampincos, Zamoras and Paternos, were original well known families in the district.

Ka Tony
the 15th of June,2008

July 06, 2008 3:57 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

What a wonderful idea, Traveler -- to turn it into a bed and breakfast inn!
Quiapo may be rich with culture and spirit but it certainly lacks decent apartments and quaint bed and breakfast establishments.

I first visited this street about a year ago when I attended a book signing event (edited by Butch Zialcita). It was attended by then mayor Lito Atienza. I made a mental note to return and take pictures of the block.

Yes, from what I heard many old houses in Quiapo are still owned by their original owners, passed on from generation to generation.

July 06, 2008 4:29 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Someone had said, Ka Tony, that if Quiapo were in the United States, many rich people would certainly opt to live there -- as in Manhattan. As a kid, I spent a lot of time mostly in the Santa Cruz and Binondo areas with my father, but nowadays, I find myself enjoying Quiapo even more, making friends in the area as well.

Thank you for this piece of Quiapo history you've once again generously shared with us. It makes me think how incredibly affluent Quiapo is even during those years. imagine an all-steel basilica shipped from Belgium during a two-year period. Incredible, indeed!

The intensity of the belief of the dovotees to the Black Nazarene is truly indescribable -- one must see it during the fiesta. I hope that I may be blessed with a prime spot to take pictures of the parade during the feast.

July 06, 2008 4:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, eric. i like the shot with the school girls in it. looks like this place is really quiet. i havent been there, as far as i can remember. or maybe i have and cannot remember.

July 06, 2008 7:02 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The street stretches from C.M. Recto Avenue and Bilibid Viejo Street, Bing. It is really a lovely block. One of Quiapo's best.

July 06, 2008 7:51 PM  

Blogger Panaderos said...

It would certainly be nice to do a book on some of these homes someday. I don't think it would be a problem having some of the owners of these old homes sit down for an interview to just talk about the history of their homes, the architect who designed them, and when they were built. That would make for such a great read.

July 07, 2008 2:41 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

"Someone had said, Ka Tony, that if Quiapo were in the United States, many rich people would certainly opt to live there -- as in Manhattan. As a kid, I spent a lot of time mostly in the Santa Cruz and Binondo areas with my father, but nowadays, I find myself enjoying Quiapo even more, making friends in the area as well."

You are very right Eric,

I haven't been back home since my Mom passed away 12 years ago and of course when I was there during her wake, I didn't get the chance of enjoying and visiting the places you want to be and see.

I miss the districts of Manila and also New York, probably like you do. I only get a chance to be back is when I visit my two kids who both live in Manhattan. But what I love is my old place in Flushing, Queens, where they have now a whole block of Asian restaurants; Malaysian, Indonesian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese... you name the country in Asia & they have it!!! Serving unusual meat like snake, wild boar, etc... One of these days if you have the urge to come back for a visit, let me know, we can savor their food & reminisce the Old Manila, New York and hey! our school days at's that for an invitation? Come on Eric!!!

July 07, 2008 4:00 AM  

Blogger Peregrino said...

When I was a student (eons ago when Dalupan was Presitent at UE) , I was a border at one of the Units at Buencamino Alley, next to the University opposite San Sebastian College.

I had not seen the place again since graduation (1970) so, in my recent trip last February, I decided to dropped by the area.

I waslked around and saw the alley was boarded up and the Spanish style building gone.

Over Azcaraga is a light rail line and jeepneys in traffic below are almost parked neck and neck.

My sentimental journey to the old place was erased by what I saw. I told the Driver to take me out of the place as fast as we can manuever out of the traffic.

July 07, 2008 5:22 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wouldn't be surprised at all, Panaderos, if someone is already hard at work at such a book. A wonderful idea, indeed!

July 07, 2008 5:58 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Jackson Heights has also become an Asian enclave, though not as large as Flushing. As the Irish and Italians move east to Long Island, the Asians, for the most part, are moving in. Interesting transition!

I'd most definitely take you up on your invite, Ka Tony. I'm sure it'd be an interesting afternoon. I've got so many questions to ask about Manila and etc. However, I'm not really into exotic food. I'd be fine with a pastrami on rye with mayo and mustard and a pickle ... hehehe.

July 07, 2008 6:04 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I can understand your disappointment, Diablo. Azcarraga, as I remember it back then, was a wonderful avenue teeming with all sorts of wonderful establishments, including Little Quiapo. Not anymore. Now it's just Recto -- incredibly gloomy and desolate after business hours.

July 07, 2008 6:07 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know how you feel Diablo, the same environmental/cultural degradtion and directionless urban planning is repeated all over the country. I used to remember how quiet and comforting it is to go home to my birthplace in Mindanao.Not anymore my little town has become an urban sprawl with dangling spaghetti like electric wire, uncollected garbage, growing squatter community. Reality sometimes sucks.

July 07, 2008 4:18 PM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

I used to live here. There was a Spanish style building in what is now a KFC (is it still there?) and that was where I lived. I don't remember the houses anymore. Photos 1 and 5 are vaguely familiar. Thanks for the memories.

July 07, 2008 11:39 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Sayang talaga, Leo. If only our local folks could appreciate their towns more.

July 08, 2008 7:35 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The KFC is still there, Photo Cache, at the corner on Recto Avenue. This is truly a lovely block, and from wht I hear, many of its residents are actively participating in the efforts to keep it as such. I am one of those who wouldn't mind living here.

July 08, 2008 7:41 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

there was this beautiful old house standing at the corner of (what street was that? ~ legarda and the street going to san sebastian), i had a feeling that it will be demolished as it looked out of place in a modern city..

and whoa, after a week, it was really gone, it was so heart-breaking.

..and what's with the bright-colored paint that covers the steels of the remaining old houses along hidalgo st.? *gwaark*

i have this vision of san sebastian and its district be like "small vigan".. hidalgo st. can still be preserved, it still has this ambiance where everything's like.. "old manila".. the old houses still stand.

July 08, 2008 10:00 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

An awesome idea indeed, Patrick. Love it!

By the way, here's an interesting article on Hidalgo Street:

Restoring the most beautiful street in Manila
By Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: January 07, 2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Jeepney terminals, vendors of various stripes and nondescript shops have taken over most of R. Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, once a fashionable address for graceful mansions of prominent Manila families.

Several old houses, now covered with grime and rust but retaining traces of their former grandeur and beauty, have been converted into commercial establishments or dormitories for the many students of schools and universities nearby. New buildings have come up. A slum colony has also mushroomed, housing illegal settlers in the area.

Old-time residents of the street, named after 19th century Filipino painter Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, admitted that it wasn’t the street of their youth. With the newcomers in the neighborhood and transient dwellers in the numerous boarding houses that have sprouted with the burgeoning student population, things haven’t been quite the same.

For one, they have stopped taking leisurely strolls, a favorite pastime, and don’t feel safe walking in the neighborhood especially at night.

Concern for the continued decline in the neighborhood prompted a group of educators and other stakeholders, including old-timers and city government officials, to conceptualize a plan that would help restore its reputation. In the 19th century, R. Hidalgo was regarded as the most beautiful street in the city.

Social commitment

The restoration program, according to Msgr. Gerry Santos, director of the Nazarene Catholic School, is part of the school’s social commitment.

“It is important to become socially aware and be concerned about our environment,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer during a recent meeting with different sectors involved in the project.

He added, “It’s a historical street, and if only for that, it merits the attention of educators as well as other stakeholders. So I decided to gather not only the residents but also the parents of children enrolled in our school, teachers and the Muslim community in Quiapo to ask what they could contribute to the project. The program has become multisectoral in terms of focus.”

Among the problems that the group intends to address are traffic, vagrancy, sidewalk vendors and peace and order.

Police officials have told the group that they would put up signs to strictly implement the “no parking” rule and to study the rerouting of vehicles that pass through.

To date, some establishments have been conducting feeding programs to address the community’s problem on vagrancy. But Santos has suggested that vagrants be provided with livelihood and skills training to uplift their plight, instead of just feeding them.
Santos also said that they are now trying to coordinate with vendors, particularly those selling pornographic and pirated DVDs and VCDs that have all but blotted out legitimate business in the area.

“To combat piracy, the parents are planning to sit down with Optical Media Board Chair Edu Manzano to discuss solutions to the perennial problem. At the same time, we’re thinking of what alternative work we can offer the vendors,” Santos said, adding that police officials have vowed to regulate vendors and rid the street of obstructions.

“Maybe we can just designate a space for them. We cannot displace the vendors. They need to survive, we understand that. But let’s just give them a better place where they can do business,” added Dr. Fernando Nakpil Zialcita, author and anthropology professor who has conducted an in-depth study of Manila’s historical streets.

The group also plans to supplement the financial assistance given to the barangay tanod (village watchmen) who help the police in ensuring peace and order in the community.

“The additional incentives are aimed at strengthening the tanod’s commitment. It’s not all about money but to let them know that the group recognizes the importance of their work,” Santos said.

But more than the financial aid, the barangay watchmen will likewise be trained in values formation.

Electrical wires and cables in the area would be placed underground as part of the group’s beautification drive. “The hanging wires are not only dangerous but make the place look ugly,” said Zialcita.

As part of the restoration efforts, the group also plans to rewire and replace street lights, repaint pedestrian markings, declog esteros (waterways) and replace covers of open manholes.

They are also working on the possibility of repainting or sprucing up the facade of old houses.

“We are discussing this option with the homeowners,” Zialcita said, adding that they would make an inventory of structures on the street that need attention, in cooperation with the National Historical Institute.

To read complete article, click here:

July 08, 2008 11:42 AM  

Blogger EQ said...

Eric:It was a virtual nostalgic tour visiting you blog. I discovered it when I was looking in Google for articles about my mentor,Fr.German Chicote.

It's so sad that Pinoys don't appreciate the idea of restoring beautiful old houses like those in San Sebastian Street.

The EQualizer

September 02, 2008 3:57 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi EQualizer,

It is indeed disheartening to see these once grand houses left to decay. The reasons, I hear, are many. But nonetheless, there are residents and home owners who are now actively participating in restorations.

Thanks for visiting!

September 03, 2008 8:24 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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