Former site of Beaterio de la Compaña de Jesus

The Beaterio de la Compaña de Jesus was established by the Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo in 1678. No less than the Archbishop of Manila approved the rules of the order in 1732.

It was granted royal recognition in 1755 and canonically approved by the Holy See in 1931. Destroyed during the Second World War, the beaterio was reconstructed as the Bagumbayan Light and Sounds Museum in 2003.


Former site of Ateneo Municipal

The Ateneo Municipal, which once stood on this site, was established as the Escuela Pia in 1816.

It was taken over by the Spanish colonial government and renamed as the Escuela Municipal in 1830.

When it was turned over to the Society of Jesus in 1859, it was renamed Ateneo Municipal. It became the Ateneo de Manila in 1901 and underwent renovation in 1920 with ornamentation done by Isabelo Tampingco.

The main entrance of the Ateneo in Intramuros, undated photograph. The school was notable for its instruction in the arts and sciences. Photo from Laya, Jaime, et. al. (1981). Intramuros of Memory. Manila: Intramuros Administration
The main entrance of the Ateneo in Intramuros, undated photograph. The school was notable for its instruction in the arts and sciences. Photo from Laya, Jaime, et. al. (1981). Intramuros of Memory. Manila: Intramuros Administration

The school was destroyed by fire in 1932, and the main campus was moved to Padre Faura St. in Manila. The original campus reopened on the site as an elementary school in 1941 but was destroyed during World War II. Main campus and elementary school moved to its present site at Loyola Heights in Quezon City a decade later.


Former site of Asuncion de Manila

The Asuncion de Manila is one of the oldest superior normal schools for women in the Philippines. It was established and entrusted to the nuns of the Religious of the Assumption by Royal Decree of Maria Cristina, Queen-Regent of Spain, in 1893. Asuncion moved out of Intramuros in 1895.


Church of Santo Domingo

The Church of Santo Domingo was possibly the most popular of eight that existed in pre-war Intramuros, according to the book La Casa de Dios principally authored by historian Fr. Rene B. Javellana.

This was because it housed La Naval, an image of the Virgin of the Rosary linked to a naval victory over the Dutch in 1646.

Every October, the church dedicated to St. Dominic of Guzman by the Order of the Preachers celebrated La Naval’s feast day with a procession that drew huge crowds of people. The event was even immortalized in literature by Nick Joaquin.

The structure erected in the mid-19th century was put up to replace a fourth one levelled by the strong earthquake of 1863. When this was destroyed by incendiary bombs on Dec. 27, 1941 during a Japanese raid of Manila, it wasn’t reconstructed.

La Casa de Dios described the Church of Santo Domingo as Neo-Gothic, prominently featuring two square towers on its facade and a quadrilateral tower over the main altar.

Portals and windows topped by Ogive arches decorated the structure’s front exterior portion.

“The interior had an air of gracious spaciousness, with groin vaulting and pillars set apart. The choir had a bronze railing of Philippine manufacture. The pulpit was artistically carved from native wood,” wrote Benito J. Legarda Jr. in a piece about the Intramuros churches in La Casa de Dios.

He added that La Naval was kept in a side chapel with other church treasures, including a gallery of tracery work, medallions representing the sacred mysteries of the rosary, an artistic altar, and a massive ornate silver tabernacle.

The image was saved during the bombing that destroyed the church and is now housed in the new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.

This modern office building on the site where the Church of Sto. Domingo once stood was constructed in the 1960s.


Church of San Nicolas

The Church of San Nicolas that used to stand on this site was built through the efforts of the Augustinian Recollects.

It was the third and last church erected in the area under the patronage of St. Nicholas of Tolentine.

Japanese forces burned the structure in February 1945 during the occupation of Manila and killed the Recollect priests.

The St. Nicholas Church was described in La Casa de Dios, a book published by the Ortigas Foundation which had Fr. Rene Javellana as principal author, as having engaged Doric columns on its facade.

Below is a longer description of the church in La Casa de Dios.

Each side of the main door had a niche that hosts an image while three windows decorate the upper part of the front exterior. The pediment had a window flanked by octagonal designs.

The main altar featured a niche that carried an image of Jesus the Nazarene. A lot of paintings were displayed on the interior walls and even in the cloister. Rather than stone, the stairway had carved wooden supports.

The bell tower with its engaged pilasters and viewing balconies on the fourth and fifth levels was most striking. Although the nave and cloister walls still stood after it was burned down by the Japanese during the war, the Church of San Nicolas was not rebuilt.

The site was cleared of the remaining ruins in 1959 and acquired in 1976 by the Bulletin Publishing Corporation, which put up a modern office building a year after.


Casa Manila

Casa Manila looks like a typical mansion of the upper class in colonial 19th century Philippines. It was built from 1981 to 1983 following the design of a house that once stood along Jaboneros St. in the Chinese district of Binondo in the 1850s.

The ground floor walls of such houses were made of adobe or volcanic tuff, which was the main building material from the late 16th to 19th century. It’s the same substance that makes up the walls of Intramuros. Second levels extended over the ground floors and served as living quarters. Its design made it resilient against earthquakes.

In 19th century Binondo, residents lived in the second level of their house and turned the first floor into shops. So it is with Casa Manila, which now serves as a memorial of what was once a way of life in the Philippines under Spanish rule.

The Casa Manila interior with its painted walls, carved traceries, crystal chandeliers, Chinese ceramics, and gilded furniture depicts the opulence of the Spanish era. It is furnished with local and imported antique pieces from the Intramuros Administration Museum Collection.

Casa Manila forms part of the Plaza San Luis Complex, a neighborhood made up of nine period houses constructed in the 1980s. They feature the various architectural styles of homes in colonial Philippines.


Sto. Niño de Arevalo Parish Church

The town of Arevalo was founded in 1581 by the son of an illustrious family in Spain who was appointed Governor-General of the Islands, Don Gonzallo Ronquillo de Peñalosa.

He arrived in Manila on June 1, 1580 and one of the things that greatly impressed him was the wealth of the Panay settlement established by Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1567 right after Cebu. This place was known as Sta. Cruz and it now forms part of the town of Arevalo.

When Don Gonzallo created the town in 1581, he named it “La Villa Rica de Arevalo” or the rich town of Arevalo after his hometown in Spain.

Community work

The Sto. Niño de Arevalo Parish Church is a fairly recent construction. A historical account in the parish book said the community had come together to have its damaged belfry repaired on October 23, 1976, finishing it two months later, and then starting on the main building the following year.

Work on the structure took years and under several parish priests. When Fr. Nemesio C. Espinosa and his assistant Fr. Jerry R. Locsin assumed stewardship of the parish on Nov. 3, 1982, they focused in earnest on the church building.

Fr. Espinosa solicited financial aid from the German Mission and when he took a leave of absence, Fr. Locsin carried on the reconstruction until its completion and blessing on October 30, 1986.

Unique location

The church is considered uniquely situated in the middle of the district plaza, unlike the others that are only built beside or near their town squares.

Another distinct feature of the church is its altar, which is supported by Solomonic or helical columns inspired by the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The altar centerpiece is a large wooden cross with the image of the crucified Christ. Enshrined in the parish is the third oldest Sto. Niño image in the country, after the Sto. Niños of Cebu (1565) and Tondo (1572).

Parish priests

Town records were only able to identify its curates (parish priests) from 1581, but it is believed that the community before this time was under the Augustinians and seculars that Legaspi was known to never travel without.

Msgr. Amadeo Escañan showed a written list of town curas which noted that it was very likely the town was under the care of the religious group that accompanied Legaspi from 1567 to 1580.

It is even believed, he said, that Legaspi brought with him the Sto. Niño image enshrined in the parish, which is officially accepted as the third oldest in the country.

An account of this Iloilo City district’s story written by Atty. Rodolfo G. Alcantara says it is very likely that Arevalo’s possession of the image may have occurred earlier than 1581 for Legaspi had used the Sto. Niño image to spread devotion to the faith in Cebu and could have done the same in Panay.

Sto. Niño devotion

The accepted account, however, is that it was Peñalosa who brought the image with him from Spain when he founded Arevalo in 1581.

Alcantara said in his book “A Brief History of Arevalo and the 1581 image of the Sto. Niño” that devotion to the Child Jesus in Panay began in Arevalo.

Arevalo, which became the capital of the settlement in Panay in 1582, was one of the few places in the Philippines to be named in Spanish. It was incorporated as a district of Iloilo City on July 16, 1937.


San Joaquin Parish Church

A Spanish colonial era structure with a distinctive feature on its facade, the San Joaquin Parish Church was constructed from 1855-1869 through the efforts of Fray Tomas Santaren.

The church distinguishes itself from similar buildings of the period in the bas relief of “Rendicion de Tetuan” that occupies the whole pediment.

Shallow carvings on the upper triangular part of the facade depict the triumph of the Spanish army over the Moors in the Battle of Tetouan of 1860 in Morocco. It is probably the only church in Panay and even the whole Philippines with a military theme.

St. Joachim who is venerated together with St. Anne as the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the titular patron of the San Joaquin Parish. Considered the secondary patron and revered just as deeply by town parishioners is the Sto. Niño del Joaquin.

Neo-classical design

Information from the San Joaquin Parish said the design of the church, with its walls made from coral stone blocks quarried from nearby barrios, is neo-classical.

It added that the location of the structure and the adjoining areas for the Casa Real, town square, and burial grounds was donated by Tan Esta (Atanacio Santiagudo) who was then the Gobernadorcillo of Pueblo de San Joaquin. He was also the chief collaborator of Fr. Santaren, the parish priest who served for over 30 years, in the church construction.

According to church records, San Joaquin existed as the Parish of Suaragan from 1692 to 1703. When the central area was moved to Punta Talisay, the territory was merged with the Parish of Guimbal and then added to the Parish of Miagao 28 years later.

It was finally established as San Joaquin Parish in 1801.

Historical site, cultural treasure

Filipino guerillas reportedly burned the church, damaging its interior, as well as the convent and all buildings in the town center during wartime in 1943. Only the facade of San Joaquin Church remained intact.

The structure’s belfry also sustained heavy damages from the strong earthquake called Lady Caycay in 1948.

When it was declared a National Historical Site through Presidential Decrees No. 260 in 1973 and No. 375 in 1974, this marked the start of the earnest restoration of the building.

The San Joaquin Parish Church was also identified as a National Cultural Treasure in 2001.


Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje

La Paz is a district in Iloilo City that was under the supervision of Jaro until it became an independent parish in the 1870s.

It used to be called by different names; it was “Lobo” meaning “needle” or “retreat” at one time, according to Spanish era records discovered by parish officials.

In the decree that separated La Paz from Jaro, it was given the name “Ilawod” to refer to its location downstream, that part of the river that spills out to sea.

The same document said it was also called Iznart once after the Spanish alcalde of Iloilo, Manuez Iznart, who governed from 1868-1869.

None of the three names prevailed because the inhabitants of the place chose to call it La Paz, after their Spanish patroness Nuestra Señora de La Paz.

La Paz church beginnings

The first priest appointed to La Paz when it became a parish was the Augustinian Fr. Candido Gonzales. He was followed 13 other Augustinians until the parish was turned over to a diocesan priest, Fr. Pedro Trano, in 1910.

When he started his duties in La Paz, Fr. Gonzales oversaw the construction of a temporary church and convent made mainly of wood and bricks for the Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish.

From 1870 to 1874, he started erecting a more permanent structure from a combination of bricks, stone, and cement.

Fr. Mariano Ysar had this enlarged and completed in 1895. There were those who likened it to the San Jose Church in the city center but said it had a look and style that is its own.

The Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish Church was damaged during World War II and the infamous earthquake of January 25, 1948. Only its facade withstood the man-made and natural calamities.

Neo-classical facade design

According to parish records, the convent was immediately renovated. It was another story for the church as its restoration work took many years, gaining traction under the leadership of Msgr. Melecio Fegarido in the 1960s.

The fully restored church was inaugurated during the May 24 fiesta in 1995.

A parish feature on the church described its facade as neo-classical with mainly dark brown bricks and white window pillars and frames.

Two columns supporting the triangular pediment are new additions as they bear the inscription of the year 1970.

As the population of La Paz grew, new parishes were also erected. Aside from Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish, there are also now existing the parishes of Our Lady of the Assumption in Barrio Obrero (1962), St. Clement in Barangay Luna (1962), Our Lady of Fatima in Lapuz (1972), and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Barangay Caingin (1992).


St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary

The St. Vincent Seminary is the fifth oldest and the last founded in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial regime.

It was established around the same time as the creation of Jaro as a diocese separate from Cebu through a papal bull issued by Pope Pius IX on May 27, 1865 and put into effect by Manila Archbishop Gregorio Meliton Martinez on October 10, 1867.

Fray Mariano Cuartero, the first bishop of Jaro, took possession of his diocese on April 25, 1868 and immediately put into motion his plans for the establishment of a diocesan seminary.

Aware of the great work of the Vincentian Fathers in the formation of native secular priests in other areas, the bishop sought their help in the creation of a seminary where he could train good pastors for the different parishes that were then almost entirely under the spiritual administration of the Augustinian friars.

First Vincentian priests

Vincentian priests arrived in Jaro in December of 1869, according to parish records, to organize and direct the seminary, and Fr. Ildefonso Moral was appointed as its superior.

Fr. Moral was joined by Fr. Aniceto Gonzales, who oversaw the construction of the seminary building and later succeeded as rector, and newly ordained priest Fr. Juan Miralda. They made up the community of Vincentian Fathers that first came to Jaro.

At the start, the seminary operated out of the bishop’s residence.

Through the generous donations of parishioners, in particular the sisters Ana and Maria Sitchon, the priest Mariano Sitchon, and Doña Gregoria Hingson, all from Molo, and from other smaller contributions, Bishop Cuartero was able to buy a 22,000-square meter lot near the Cathedral and his residence for the seminary. Not long after, on March 11, 1871, the cornerstone was laid and construction started under the direction of Fr. Aniceto Gonzales.

Third seminary building

The current St. Vincent Seminary building is the third erected since its founding in 1869. It was completed on June 19, 1954 with then Jaro Bishop Jose Ma. Cuenco spearheading efforts to raise funds for its construction.

Two previous structures were destroyed, the first by fire in 1906 and the other in a bombing run by American liberation forces on February 20, 1945 near the end of the Second World War.

The seminary complemented its new and modern building with an enlarged plan of studies. Its Departments of Latin and Philosophy received government accreditation and soon the number of enrolled seminarians broke previous records.

In 1959, seminary obtained government recognition of its studies to grant the AB degree.

Flourishing times

The first seminary building, put up under the rectorship of Fr. Gonzales, was completed in November 1874. A parish book described it as quadrilateral in shape measuring 54×52 meters, with a central 23-square meter patio. The ground floor was stone and brick and the second floor made of hardwood.

When it was opened to lay students in 1875, the number of enrollees became so high that another 46 meters was added to the right wing of the building.

An entry in “Exposición General de las Islas Filipinas en Madrid, 1887 – Memoria” recorded a total seminary enrollment of 5,344 from 1875-1885.

The most flourishing period for the seminary during Spanish times was between 1891-1925 when it introduced five-year course of studies leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. It was the first of the Vincentian-run seminaries to become a first-class college, getting fully incorporated into the University of Sto. Tomas in 1891.

Filipino-Spanish hostilities

In the course of its 150-year history, seminary life was interrupted twice by war. School days came to an abrupt end during the outbreak of Filipino-Spanish hostilities at the close of 1897 and returned to normal only in 1904-1905.

Filipino revolutionaries in the Visayas, taking their cue from the proclamation of Philippine Independence in Kawit, rose in arms against Spain and on November 17, 1897 formed their own revolutionary government in Santa Barbara with Roque Lopez as president and Martin Delgado as commander-in-chief.

Spanish forces surrendered Jaro to rebel forces after five hours of savage fighting in December 15. They then took over the use of the seminary and ordered the priests expelled over fears they acted as spies.

In the early months of 1898, American soldiers managed to wrest the city away from Delgado’s forces that withdrew to the outskirts and began a guerilla war that lasted for two years

The death of Cuartero’s successor Bishop Leandro Arrue Agudo shortly before the war on October 24, 1897 left the Diocese of Jaro an orphan at its most critical time and the situation was exacerbated by a third of Filipino priests refusing to accept a Spanish friar, Andres Ferrero, as his replacement and their animosity towards the Vincentians who were also Spanish.

Schism of Panay

The Schism of Panay, as it was called, dragged on until Bishop Ferrero was forced to hand in his resignation to the Holy See. He sailed back to Spain on October 27, 1903.

Monsignor Frederick Rooker took over that November and required all priests to renew their oath of obedience and reverence to the bishop. A special meeting was also held in Manila for all major superiors of religious communities and bishops to bring the conflict to an end.

Everything returned to normal beginning in school year 1904-1905 only to be interrupted again by a fire that hit the seminary and reduced it to ashes in 1906. It was caused by a candle left burning in the sacristy by a seminarian.

Classes proceeded but housed temporarily in a spacious building owned by Don Teodoro Benedicto.

With financial support of the priests, people of Jaro, his friends in America, and a substantial amount from Pope Pius X, Bishop Rooker began reconstruction just two months after the fire. The seminary was substantially finished and able to house 100 interns in less than a year. It returned to its own home on September 17, 1907. Just a day after, Bishop Rooker suffered a heart attack and died just hours after.

Seminary, college separation

Two great benefactors of the seminary came in the persons of Jaro Bishop Dennis Dougherty, who succeeded Rooker, and seminary rector Fr. Mariano Napal.

They took on the job of completing the building and achieved this on March 12, 1912.

While enrollment was at an all-time high, accepting lay students affected the original purpose of the seminary which was to train the youth for priesthood.

Vincentian priests took this strong admonition of Pope Pius XI to heart and created a separate Colegio de San Vicente Ferrer that operated out of the Jaro Cathedral convent. However, it closed down definitively two years later.

The separation proved beneficial to the seminarians but caused the seminary to suffer economically as the college was its main source of income.

Bishop McCloskey remedied this by subsidizing the seminary through a system of burses beginning in 1925. While admitted at a hospital in Manila in 1942, he even instructed Msgr. Luis Capalla, Vicar General, to continue assisting seminary.

Japanese occupation

Another interruption to seminary work occurred during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that generated alarm in the Philippines.

The incident prompted Fr. Mariano Auzmendi to close classes, perhaps prematurely. The seminarians went home to the provinces while the priests, 12 of them, and 10 ordinands remained.

Japanese forces began to occupy Iloilo on April 16, 1942, causing a state of terror. The rector brought the ordinands with permission from the Japanese to Bacolod for their priestly ordination in June 29. The priests were allowed to leave for safer places and three of the nine that remained including the rector were said to have died as a result of tension and fear.

Shortly after his consecration, Bishop Jose Ma. Cuenco came to the Jaro Diocese in February 1943 as Auxiliary of Bishop McCloskey who was being treated for an illness in Manila.

Despite the efforts of Cuenco and his newly appointed rector, Fr. Eliseo Rodriguez, the seminary only began to operate normally beginning in January 1946.

Rising from destruction

Iloilo City was liberated from the Japanese by American forces on May 19, 1945, but their bombing runs had levelled the seminary’s home just a few months before.

The task of rebuilding the diocese, which lost not only the seminary but 60 percent of its churches and rectories, fell to Cuenco, who was appointed residential bishop in November 27 of that year with the death of McCloskey.

After a vote of confidence from the Jaro Diocese, the Vincentian fathers returned and focused their efforts on clearing out debris and covering the walls that remained standing with bamboo strips and nipa leaves just to be able to reopen the seminary. On January 7, 1946, classes did resume attended by 32 major seminarians.

The St. Vincent Seminary slowly got back on its feet and a new building, the one you see today, once again rose from the destruction through the efforts of Bishop Cuenco.

Work on the last part of the construction, the right wing, took 10 months and was completed on June 19, 1954.