With its history and diversity, there is nothing more iconic and picturesque than Manila. Despite modernization it is still the charming Manila that we know Here’s how things and places have changed.
Roxas Boulevard today
Roxas Boulevard, which once was called Dewey Boulevard, is in the heart of the city. Before naming it after George Dewey, an American Admiral who led the fight against the Spanish Navy, it was known as Cavite Boulevard in the early 1990s and Heiwa Boulevard during the Japanese occupation. Apparently, the boulevard was an integral part of Philippine history. Although the changes in the names came with distinct changes in its landscape – narrowing road, adding light posts, setting up food stalls, placing benches, it’s an important landmark.
There’s the quintessential saving grace, though. Some people may claim that the sunset of Anilao or Boracay is much better. But, viewing sunsets here is still the experience of all experiences. There’s something extraordinary about watching the sunset from the Baywalk. Amidst the backdrop of convention centers, embassies, museums, and hotels, it seems the most natural thing that the boulevard has to offer.
The boulevard is a gateway to various sights in Manila, starting from Manila Bay and Rizal Park, which is currently undergoing a makeover.
The new Lawton
Another interesting street in Manila is Lawton Avenue. The avenue was named after Henry Ware Lawton, an American General. Plaza Lawton, as it was called before was officially named Liwasang Bonifacio in the 1970s. This time, it was named after Andres Bonifacio..
If there is something remarkable about Plaza Lawton, it’s the Jones Bridge. The bridge, which connects to Binondo. It was built with four La Madre Filipina-themed statues at its corners. The first monolith was destroyed during the Second World War. Right across, the Matthew C. Lazaro statue can now be found in Rizal Park, while the other two statues are now located in front of the Court of Appeals Building.
Today, the neoclassical arch bridge is still there. It may not be the same as it was before but the stone railings, remind the passersby of the original structure of the bridge. Escolta Street’s revival
A historic neighborhood in old downtown Binondo, Escolta Street is considered as one of the oldest streets in the country. The street which was created in 1594 was the center of trade back then with the proliferation of immigrant merchants. The busy street was lined with shops selling items from Latin America, Europe, and China. It was once called the Wall Street of the Philippines due to the presence of banks and Manila Stock Exchange. In the late 19th century, it became even busier with the construction of paradigmatic buildings – the early skyscrapers in the country. Don Roman Santos Building is the perfect example. This neoclassical building was built in 1894. Other magnificent sights are Regina Building, First United Building, and El Hogar Filipino Building. The First United Building, an art deco structure, was the tallest building in Manila. Andres Luna de San Pedro, son of Antonio Luna, designed this building and Regina Building.
Although the buildings may now appear to be dilapidated, they are still there. They are the silent witnesses of how the street has changed over the years. If you want to take a glimpse of the old Escolta, head to the Calvo Museum. It houses memorabilia and vintage items.
Cultural heritage of Binondo
Binondo is known as Manila’s Chinatown, most probably the oldest Chinatown in the world. It was built in 1594 to become the permanent settlement of Chinese immigrants.
One of the most remarkable structures is the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz. The basilica was built to immortalize the martyrdom of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. It houses the Nuestra Señora de Santisimo Rosario, the oldest colonial painting in the Philippines. In front of the church is the Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, which is considered as the center of Binondo. The plaza is now bounded by Chinese-owned banks, hotels and the National Library of the Philippines. There are also American diners like Yellow Cab Pizza and Starbucks.
Nowadays, while the majority of the residents are Chinese, it is slowly becoming a multi-ethnic district. Food tours are rampant in Binondo. However, the food scene is no longer confined with Chinese restaurants because there are Kapampangan food sellers doing business in the place.
The omnipotent Quiapo
Quiapo was previously called the old downtown of Manila. In the 16th century, the district was regarded as the center of commerce with numerous movie houses, theaters, craft stores, trade shops, and open markets. These establishments attract the elites, nouveau riche, and illustrados. Part of the thriving mercantilism during that time was the presence of the Black Nazarene that was brought to the Philippines in the early 1600s.
The modern Quiapo is known for the Feast of Black Nazarene. There are still many stores in the area particularly those found right outside of Quiapo Church. However, the items for sale are not as culturally diverse as before. Relics are the most popular items for sale along with colored candles, talismans, and herbal medicinal plants. The outdoor markets cater to the people who seek bargains, particularly in Carriedo along Rizal Avenue where Amaia Skies Avenida is located.
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