This building stands out like a sore thumb in the Spanish historic walled city of Intramuros and the developer should be shot. It is called BF Condominium and is situated next to the ruins of the Custom House in Intramuros. In the ground floor there are banks, restaurants and some small shops. It stands at the old site of the University of Santo Tomas. The whole building belongs to a controversial bank who have not even bothered to erect a historical plaque of what stood here before.
Visit this museum if you are interested in the history, lives and contributions of the Chinese in the Philippine life and history. The museum was inaugurated in 1999 by Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, Inc., a non-profit organization co-founded by Teresita Ang-See, The museum is fully air-conditioned and costs 100 pesos entrance fee.
The museum is divided into the following sections:
Emergence of the Chinese community
In defense of freedom
Life in the 1800s
National leaders of Chinese descent
Gallery of rare prints and photographs
Rare Philippine shell collection
Tsinoys in nation-building (inaugurated in 2004)
This monument was only erected in 1995 and is dedicated to those civilians who lost their lives in WWII. It stands in the Plazuela de Santa Isabel which is situated on a corner in Anda Street and was restored in 1983. The small garden is an excellent place to relax under the shade of the trees, which have grown considerably since we took our previous photo there in 1999. The memorial is for those nameless victims that were consumed by fire, crushed beneath the rubble or were in a nameless grave. It is a gravestone for all the men, women and children that were killed in manila between Feb 3 and March 3, 1945. They were casualties from heinous Japanese acts or American bombing during that month.
I have included this tip in "THINGS TO DO" as well as the restaurant tip as there is only one p;lace in the world where you can taste an ice cream that is made from a flower, actually the national flower called a sampaguita. The restaurant is in the old walled city of Intramuros and is well worth passing by just to taste this unique ice cream. This was our only reason for visiting this rather expensive restaurant called ILUSTRADO and we were not disappointed as we could actually taste the fragrance of the flower, which cost an expensive 305 pesos including service charge and VAT for one scoop for each of us. The taste was luscious, creamy and fragrant and i would not hesitate to try another one next time i am in the area.
The restaurant intended to have a very special Philippine desert and they tried producing ice cream from several flowers but the sampaguita was the one that tasted the best. Sampaguita is a type of Jasmin and if you are near a tree that is flowering you will smell the beautiful fragrance.
You will find the burnt out shell of the Treasury Building next to Immigration, but it was destroyed by fire in 1972. Surprised that nothing has been built on this lot, the real estate must be worth a fortune.
At one time there were seven churches inside the walls of Intramuros but today only two of them remain----San Agustin Church and Manila Cathedral. I am pleased to see that the San Ignacio Church is being reconstructed and the shell of the building is more or less completed. You can see this at the end of Anda Street and hopefully it will be completed by the time you visit the area.
The Seafront Complex was constructed in 1592 but it was a weak defense line so it was fortified in the 17th century to protect against Dutch invaders and Chinese pirates. Between 1779 and 1786 it was rebuilt under the orders of Tomas Sanz. During WWII it was known as number 1 Victoria Street when it was the HQ of the US Military Advisor of General MacArthur. Unfortunately it was destroyed during the Battle of Manila but renovated in the early 80's
This gate is actually one of the original entrances to the walled city of Intramuros, constructed in 1603, two side chambers added in the mid 18th century, The gate became a favorite entrance for people to walk along the promenade at Malecon Drive. During the Battle of Manila in 1945 the gate was destroyed to let American tanks enter the city, but it was restored in 1982.
It is well worth going to see the Gallery of Presidents,past and present which is just around the corner from San Agustin Church. They are neither statues nor paintings but faces sculpted on sheets of metal. I have been to Intramuros maybe ten times but this is the first time i noticed this wonderful little garden.
San Agustin church was first constructed in 1571 but was destroyed 3 years later by marauding pirates, but was constructed two more times (and destroyed) before the present structure was completed in 1604, using a special design so that it could not be destroyed by earthquakes. It is the first European stone church that is designed along Spanish lines in Manila. It has 14 side chapels and pews that were carved from hardwood in the17th century. It also has an 18th century pipe organ and a beautiful trompe l'oeil ceiling. Beside the church is a small museum with Spanish era vestments, furniture and religious artwork. It has been a designated world heritage site since 1993. While you are there take a look at the wonderfully carved wooden doors.
One very interesting thing i noticed were the Chinese lion-type statues that stood by the entrance, which remind me of the chintzes that are by the entrances of Buddhist temples.
On April 23rd 1905 the first council of the Knights of Columbus was formed in the Philippines within the walled city of Intramuros. At its conception there were 31 members, all of whom were Americans. An American Jesuit priest called Fr. George Willman arrived in the lean years of the 30's and worked hard in the organisation until he became the Philippine Deputy in 1962, a position which he held until he died in 1978. A statue of him stands outside the Knights' Headquarters. In 1980 there were more than 40,000 Philippine Knights.
The Order is considered a Catholic, Family, Fraternal, and Service Organization and its objectives are the following --
a) of rendering pecuniary aid to its members, their families and beneficiaries of members and their families;
b) of rendering mutual aid and assistance to its sick, disabled and needy members and their families;
c) of promoting social and intellectual intercourse among its members and their families; and
d) of promoting and conducting educational, charitable, religious social welfare, war relief and welfare, and public relief work.
The Baluarte de San Andes was constructed in early 17th century and provided a defensive fortification for the residents should there be a hostile attack. It is named after one of the patron saints and is one of the remaining original structures at Intramuros. It was built to protect Puerto Real, one of the entrances to the walled city. You can climb up the stairs to the bastion which will give you an impression of the once impregnable fortification played in repelling the Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese invaders. From the watchtower you can see the golf course and parts of Manila.