A trip, deep into the heart of Manila, along the Quiapo streets less taken. It can be argued the the district of Quiapo is the very heart of the Manila; a microcosms of sort. It is divided by Quezon Boulevard into two general areas. In the better known part, one can locate the Quiapo Church, Raon, and the haven for photographers, Hidalgo Street. The other side, however, seems to be typically less explored by local tourists.
“Lakaran sa Quiapo” (Walking Trough Quiapo) is a sort of an educational tour I happened to participate in a couple of years ago. It threads the less frequented places in Quiapo. Places rich in history, as Pre-World War II Quiapo used to be a residential area of no less than the most prominent families in Manila. A lot of the grand houses are no longer occupied by families, some have deteriorated into deplorable conditions, some have been leveled to the ground to give way to high-rise buildings, while a least one has been decently maintained and has been made into a museum. Ever since my first tour, I have been bringing family and friends to Quiapo to share the little that I know of. Today, I will take you there too.
The first stop in the tour is the Ocampo Compound. The Ocampo Family had a very huge house in Quiapo, which is now non -existent. What remains though is a Japanese structure, loosely called “Pagoda ng Quiapo”, although it really is not a Pagoda per se.
Within the compound are several houses and apartments. What is remarkable is that some of the old structures, such as life-sized statues of saints still remain.
In the former garden of the Ocampo’s stands a concrete globe; sitting atop are the images of Mama Mary and the Child Jesus.
After that, the tour takes us to Hidalgo St. (the less popular side) where several ancestral houses, most of them a hundred years old, stand. The house of Pedro Paterno, a Filipino propagandist and a contemporary of national hero Jose Rizal, is one of them. What used to be a mansion is now an apartment.
There is also the house of the Zamora family. Inside, one can see that what used to be a garden has become more of a jungle.
At the far end of Hidalgo Street is San Sebastian Church. An all-steel structure that was apparently designed by Gustave Eiffel. The same genius behind the great Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
The last stop of the tour is “Bahay Nakpil-Bautista” (Nakpil-Bautista House), which was the domicile of the family of Gregoria de Jesus and Julio Nakpil. Gregoria de Jesus is the widower of Philippine hero, Andres Bonifacio. Among the ancestral houses of Quiapo, “Bahay Nakpil-Bautista” is the best kept, as it is now a museum.
I hope one of these days, you can visit these historical landmarks of Manila.