Heritage sites are aplenty in Metro Manila. The various towns and cities within the National Capital Region trace their roots since the 16th century so it’s no wonder that one can find many old buildings and structures around the metropolis.
While there are very popular heritage sites in Metro Manila among locals and tourists alike, there are some structures that are less known to the public because of their access. Here are some of these heritage sites that I visited for a project where I volunteered to help document.
Heritage sites in San Juan:
Also known as St. John the Baptist Church or San Juan Bautista Church, Pinaglabanan Church was constructed in 1895, a year after the parish was established. The church, which has a Neo-Romanesque design, was built with architect Luis Arellano supervising the construction.
During the fight between the Filipino and Spanish forces broke out in 1896, the church was damaged and it was repaired. Decades later, the church underwent renovation and expansion.
Pinaglabanan Church was declared as a historical landmark by the city of San Juan and was included in the five pilgrim churches in Metro Manila during the Year of Faith.
White Cross Orphanage
The White Cross is an orphanage established by Victoria Lopez de Araneta in 1936 for the children of tuberculosis patients. Also known as the Quezon Preventorium, the orphanage was administered by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.
However, when World War II broke out, the nuns had to evacuate to Welfareville in the neighboring city of Mandaluyong to be safe from the Japanese forces. The nuns and their ward returned to White Cross during the American liberation in 1946.
Heritage Sites in Makati:
Its formal name is Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church. Built in the 17th century, the church was constructed in Baroque Roman architectural style. Perched atop a hill, it was used as a military headquarters by the British forces in the 18th century. In the 19th century, the monastery was utilized as a haven for children of cholera victims.
The church also witnessed several earthquakes and parts of the structure had been damaged. Repair and renovation have been done in the church. To date, it is one of the favorite wedding venues in Metro Manila.
Museo ng Makati
The “bahay na bato” structure along J.P. Rizal St., which now serves as the city’s repository of historical artifacts, used to be the city’s old town hall. Built in 1918, it used to be the seat of the local government until 1961.
But prior to becoming the city’s museum, it was also used as the Municipal Library, then as the Philippine Eye and Ear Infirmary. The two storey-structure now stands comfortably at the street’s curb with the modern skyscrapers at its background.
Sts. Peter and Paul Church
Constructed in 1620, it is said that the Sts. Peter and Paul Church is one of the oldest, if not the oldest church in Makati. Built by a Jesuit priest, the church is located along D.M. Rivera St. within a residential and commercial area in the busier parts of the city. Across the church is the plaza, which used to be the patio or the church cemetery.
Historical sites in Manila
Casino Español de Manila
Established in 1893, the exclusive club was designed to be a social and recreational venue by the Spaniards based in the Philippines. The first structure was erected in 1913 but was destroyed in 1945 during the Liberation of Manila at the height of World War II. The club was temporarily housed at another location within the city of Manila.
Casino Español was rebuilt in 1951 at the site where the original structure was constructed. It has hosted several VIPs, such as the royalties of Spain.
Asilo de San Vicente de Paul
A few blocks away from Casino Español is the Asilo de San Vicente de Paul, formerly known as Casa de San Vicente de Paul. Established in 1885 by Sr. Asuncion Ventura, DC, it is one of the oldest orphanages in Metro Manila.
The orphanage was burned during World War II but it was reconstructed in 1945. Apart from being a child caring institution, Asilo also provided educational services for a certain period of time.
Pope Pius XII Catholic Center
I’m not sure when exactly the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center was built but it was during the Rufino Cardinal Santos (1953 to 1974). When I visited the center I saw a tarpaulin on the 50th year celebration of Pope Pius XII Catholic Center. The center has a friendship hall, a dormitory, and several other facilities. It also houses the Sta. Maria Goretti Parish Church, with its adoration chapel as one of my favorite places to pray and meditate.
There are many other old structures around the metro and all throughout the country, not just churches but even interesting buildings. It is good to preserve all these as our way of giving importance to our past and how it shaped our present times to pave a way to our future.