Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Intramuros - The walled city of Manila

At the tip of the tongue of land that was Maynila, Rajah Soliman had built a fort facing the mouth of the river and the sea. A palisade of logs (the trunks of coconut trees) was meant more to deflect gunfire than to enclose, since it was easy to pass between the logs, planted in the ground about a foot from each other. The fortification proper consisted of narrow mud walls mounted with a dozen pieces of artillery, mostly small-caliber cannon. The town itself was a mass of nipa huts huddled around Soliman’s palace. There is no mention of a mosque. The palace was a big house with a lot of porcelain and blankets; a number of wooden tanks filled with water; and rich stores of copper, iron, wax, and cotton. Beside the palace was an arsenal. Nearby was a forge where cannon were made under the direction of a Portuguese armorer.

Arrival of the Spanish conguistador Legaspi

Maynila was considered a great city because it had a population of 4,000. Government was in the hands of two men. Apparently the previous king, Rajah Laya, had, because of old age, abdicated in favor of his nephew Soliman. But the young king kept his uncle on as adviser. So the old Laya held the position of elder statesman and was known as Rajah Matanda.
Maynila was not ignorant of white men; the Portuguese were already active in the Philippines. Still, the summer that brought the whites in large numbers to Manila Bay was epochal. With that summer, the history of Manila begins to have dates. We have entered the calendar of the West.

One day early in June, 1570, Soliman heard that a ship of the palefaces had entered the bay at sunset and anchored off Kawit. The palefaces were Kastila, not Portuguese. An evening conference with his uncle, Rajah Matanda, would have enlightened Soliman on the Kastila.

The old king would remember how, some forty years ago, there had been rumors of these palefaces coming to Cebu and converting the court to their religion. But when their leader was killed on Mactan, the palefaces had fled in terror. Intramuros, located along the southern bank of the Pasig River, is the oldest among the districts of the city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Its name, taken from the Latin, intra muros, meaning "In the walls" also describes its structure as it is surrounded by thick, high walls and moats. During the Spanish Period, Intramuros was considered Manila itself.

The site of Intramuros was originally a large and prosperous Malayan Muslim settlement named Maynilad. The name came from may nilad, nilad being a water plant whose star-shaped flowers clustered in abundance along the low-lying riverbanks. The strategic location of Maynilad, being on the Pasig River and the Manila Bay, made it an ideal location for the locals to trade crafts and produce with other peoples of the then pre-Hispanic Philippines and other Asian countries, especially with ethnic Chinese merchants. Maynilad was also the seat of power for native chiefs who ruled the area before the Spaniards set foot on Philippine soil.

In 1570, Spanish conquistadors led by Martín de Goiti, Juan de Salcedo and Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Manila. Goiti and Legazpi's men waged war on the Muslims and indigenous tagalog peoples before they were able to take control and establish a permanent settlment in the area. In 1571 after the Spaniards were victorious in battle, Legazpi made a peace pact with the native muslim rulers, who, in return, handed over Manila to the Spaniards. Citing the rich resources, strategic economic, political and military importance of Manila, Legazpi declared Manila as the new capital of the Spanish colony in the Philippines on June 24, 1571. The King of Spain, delighted at the new conquest achieved by Legazpi and his men, awarded Manila a coat of arms and declared it Insigne y Siempre Leal Ciudad ("Distinguished and ever loyal city"). The planning of the city of Manila was commenced by the Captain General - Governor, Miguel López de Legazpi, who established forts, roads, churches and schools.

The plans for Intramuros was based on King Philip II's Royal Ordinance issued on July 3, 1573 in San Lorenzo, Spain. Its design was based upon a medieval castle structure and covered 64 hectares of land, surrounded by 8 metre thick stones and high walls that rise 22 metres.

Intramuros Plan 1672

Intramuros Plan 1783

Intramuros - Manila 1785

Intramuros-Manila 1800

Plano de Ciudad Manila - 1839

Intramuros -1851

Intramuros - 1895

Intramuros was completed in 1606 and it served as the center of political, military and religious power of the Spaniards during the time that the Philippines was a colony of Spain. Inside Intramuros there are several Roman Catholic churches, like the Manila Cathedral and the San Agustin Church, convents and church-run schools such as the University of Santo Tomas, Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Ateneo Municipal, which were usually being run by religious orders such as the Dominicans, Augustinians and Franciscans.

The Governor's Palace, the official residence of Spanish Viceroyal ties to the Philippines was originally in Intramuros before it was officially moved to Malacañang Palace and Fort Santiago. Only Spaniards and Mestizos were allowed to take part on political issues and take residence inside the walled city, Christian natives and ethnic chinese were also allowed inside, but Spanish officials prevented them living there. The vast majority of the natives and ethnic Chinese residents lived outside the walled city.

Dr. Jose P. Rizal facing the Spanish firing squad.

American Era - 1899 to 1940

During World War II, much of Intramuros was damaged by bombings from both Japanese who occupied it and used it as their headquarters and prison and by U.S. forces who besieged the

Present Day. In the 1980's, under the direction of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, the Intramuros Administration restored the city and at present the walled city is the only district of Manila where old Spanish-era influences were retained. Much of the development of present-day Manila occurred outside the gates of Intramuros, leaving the old walls, streets and churches of Intramuros minimally touched by modernization, although outlets of Jollibee, McDonald's and Starbucks now sit alongside distinguished educational institutions within its walls. The old moats that surrounded Intramuros have been filled up and transformed into a golf course where locals and foreign nationals play the sport. The garrison that was Fort Santiago is now a tourist spot where visitors can enjoy the nostalgic romance of a bygone Spanish era within it's gardens.

Tourist Brochures 

YEAR 2015

Fort SFort Santiago

Film Viewing of the Video " Intramuros Lives On"

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YouTube Videos

Youtube Video " Intramuros Lives On"

Intramuros Lives On

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The Japanese girlfriend of Rizal

Leonora Rivera the Filipina girlfriend of Rizal.

View of Pasig River, Binondo and San Nicolas district of Manila from Fort Santiago

Area in the vicinity of Aduana Street

Palacio Governador building

Manila Cathedral

View of Pasig River and Binondo district from Aduana area of Intramuros.

Area of Muralla Street from the Ruins of Interdencia  to Manila High School

The building on the right is the Manila High School.

The Manila High School

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You may use the pictures  (my own photos)  in this blog under an Attribution License. You are free to use, share and modify the pictures found in this blog. Should you publish or otherwise reproduce for distribution the pictures found here in digital or printed form you must place a link to this blog or indicate the URL of this blog in your publication.


Photo Journal of Fort Santiago – Intramuros Manila.

Intramuros – Puerta Real Gardens and Baluarte de San Diego.

The assassination of the Spanish Governor General Bustamante.

Relation of the Voyage to Luzon 1570 – Conquest of Manila.

The Tragic Illicit Affair of the Spanish Governor General’s Wife.

Skyline of Manila – View from the Bayleaf Hotel

Views of Manila High School – Intramuros and vicinity.

History of Manila High School by Ms. Normita Casal.

History of Manila High School – Intramuros , by a MHS Alumni.








                                      A TRIBUTE VIDEO TO MANILA HIGH SCHOOL 
                                                          by Maricar Camorongan                                                 

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