Developments in Intramuros

July 19, 2013
The ayuntamiento is back!

Yesterday I decided to check out what’s going on in Intramuros. I’ve heard of recent developments happening inside the ancient walled city but never really took more of an interest.

And oh boy was I in for a pleasant surprise—the ayuntamiento, like a phoenix, rose out of the ashes!

The external appearance was faithful with the original. The architecture and the finish was superb—who ever made this possible deserves the Filipinos praise and gratitude. A modern building would have been easier and cheaper to construct but that they went through all the detail to ensure the new building appears as close to the old ayuntamiento as possible was admirable.

The new ayuntamiento is new home for the nation’s  Treasury department.

The ruins of San Ignacio, will it rise too?

Jesuit Church, soon to rise?

I also visited the ruins of San Ignacio church. I heard that there were some kind of construction going on. What I saw was an area cordoned off by these huge tarpaulin with images of the old church on the side and some tin sheets and wood boards on the facade. Scaffolding was being assembled around the ruins. I take this as preparation for what could be the reconstruction of the historic Jesuit church.

This church was built in the 16th century. It is said that this church was modeled after the Gesu. The Jesuit’s main church in Rome. What about the Ateneo? Would they reconstruct this once boarding school too?

I must say the prospect of seeing San Ignacio church reconstructed fills me with excitement!

If there are plans to rebuild the church, then the facade must be retained. Among the churches that was destroyed during the WWII bombings, San Ignacio’s facade was the only one spared from demolition after the Japs were rooted out. All the rest were brought down for clearing!

Constructions and Repairs Everywhere

The POEA building is presently being repaired. I was told that the entire building needed it badly. Letran also joined in the construction activities. They’ve demolished the old art deco building of St. Vincent. They’ve retained the portions of the facade which suggests that they plan to build a new building behind it.

According to the schools website, portions and salvaged  materials from the demolished  St. Vincent Ferrer bldg. was used in other renovations in the campus.

I briefly attended Letran’s MBA program in 2005 so I’m an interested observer of what would happen next after this demolition.

I heard also that the school filed for a university status. Here’s hoping that they don’t butcher the historic name of the school and anglicize everything.

San Agustin Church also has some on going minor repairs. Workers are stripping the pink paint coat. I’m not privy to what’s the next development here but I’ve always trusted the people that runs this church. The paint they used was designed to let the original material breath beneath and also to be taken off if they decided to change the color. Let’s just hope they pick a good color this time.

The new ayuntamiento
The old ayuntamiento… amazing…

Now, what’s being done with the squatters in the walled city?

I read that the illegal settlers will finally get transferred. In exchange, they’ll be provided with a livelihood and a house down south.

I spoke with one of Intramuros Administration’s security guards. He has some sense of humor about these illegal settlers. “Why would they leave? they have so many security guards guarding them here for free. Exclusive subdivisions have 2 or 3 security guards, here they have dozens, round the clock security!”

But these folks really have to get transferred out of Intramuros. In the past they’ve been protected by mayors and local politicians because they number by the thousands. These squatter colonies has been the ‘baluarte’ of politicians for votes in the past.

Two security guards I spoke with said that the squatter area has been a haven for snatchers and drug dealers. Every chase ends up in the illegal settlers area where the snatchers and addicts would disappear like smoke.

Time to resettle these illegal settlers—and please don’t say we have no funds. In the news recently, an insanely irresponsible senator who moonlights for TV shows just spent close to a billion pesos to pay for fake projects! With that kind of money not only would we be able to build houses for these squatters, we could also send them on a nice leisurely cruise and gift all of them with iPads for Christmas!

The 60 plus hectare land of Intramuros is around 70% privately owned. The remaining building spaces and vacant lots are split in half by the Church and government. How the squatters remained in this historic area for so long reflects the lack of political will among our politicians.

A French colleague was shocked to see that there are shanties with “so many little children playing” right in the middle of streets in Intramuros. He was under the impression that the entire place was some kind of a museum. At least, that’s how it was presented in international TV ads. I then told him to read the fine print next time.

We’ve cleared the rail roads of illegal settlers. That’s a bigger number compared to these folks in Intramuros. What’s stopping us from accomplishing the same?

Have we not waited long enough?

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Eldon TenorioPepe Recent comment authors
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“What alone survives of the old churches, San Agustín, looks extremely lonely without the busy company it had enjoyed for ages sa loob ng Maynila. And San Agustín has practically given up the public celebration of its old fiestas. St. Rita is no longer borne in procession on a float of Maytime roses; and the Virgin of Consolation no longer rides her silver carroza through the streets of Intramuros on the second Sunday of September — a cult commemorated in Fernando Zóbel’s Carroza. To repeat, Intramuros was the conjunto, of all its traditional temples; without its other colleagues, even the… Read more »

Eldon Tenorio

It was also a surprise to me yesterday when I visited Intramuros! I was shocked to see the restored Ayuntamiento!