Divided among themselves into small political groups called barangays, the inhabitants of the new Spanish colony were easily conquered. Historians noted that the conquistadores and missionaries used the extensive experience they have gained in Mexico in carrying out the pacification and conquest of the colony.
According to historian Gregorio Zaide, Spain colonized the Philippines using the power of the Cross and the might of the Sword. For more than three centuries, the unity of the Church and State has proven its potency in ruling country.
However, there were periods when the relationship between the two colonial powers turned bitter and scandalous that the civil authorities found it necessary to yield to the all-powerful Church.
A walk along the ancient streets and ruins of Intramuros provided us observable manifestations that reveal the supremacy of the Church. Aside from the several churches that once stood within the Walled City, the naming of streets, public facilities and military installations after Catholic saints gave the Church its dominance in the colony.
Augustinian Provincial House
Along Sta. Lucia Street was the Augustinian Provincial House. Also known as the Casa Procuracion, this was built to accommodate the growing number of Augustinians in the Philippines. Nick Joaquin noted the Augustinians to be the “premier friar order in our country, the first to evangelize the Philippines.” A covered bridge once crossed over Real Street which connects the Provincial House to the Augustinian motherhouse –the San Agustin Church and Convent.
Other friar orders soon followed. The strong presence of the friars in the Spanish population came to the point that in the absence of civil authorities, the Spanish friars would often take their place. According to Ramon Zaragoza, “the friars in turn assumed a great importance in maintaining the Spanish hegemony in the island and jealously guarded their power to do so.”
In 1939, the building was leased the newly established Adamson University. The building was destroyed during World War II. It was then reconstructed and patterned after the original design of intricately carved wood.
Puerta de Santa Lucia
At the end of Real Street is one of the seven gates of Intramuros –Puerta de Santa Lucia.
Across the walls of San Agustin Convent is the Cuartel de Sta. Lucia which in 1901 housed the barracks of the newly formed Philippine Constabulary. A military school was opened in this building in 1904 which later became Baguio’s Philippine Military Academy.
No. 1 Victoria Street
Moving further down Sta. Lucia Street and turning southwest of Victoria Street is the Baluartillo de San Jose. On top of this bastion was a military office known as the No. 1 Victoria Street. This was the headquarters of Douglas MacArthur when he was the appointed as the commander of the USAFFE.
Reducto de San Pedro
Below the bastion is a tunnel that opens to a footbridge leading to Reducto de San Pedro.
Reducto de San Pedro is close to the public. It stands on a ground away from the wall. It used to store gunpowder, and also provided additional fortification. It is said to be almost intact after the Liberation and reputedly has a beautiful brick interior.
Beaterio de la Compania de Jesus
Near MacArthur’s office was the Beaterio de la Compania de Jesus. Located at the corner of Victoria and Santa Lucia Streets, the hermitage for women was founded by a Chinese mestiza from Binondo, the Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.
The community was formally established in 1684 under the spiritual direction of the Jesuits. Nick Joaquin gave credit to the beaterio to be “a pioneer for conducting retreats for women –retreats that drew native women as well as Spanish ladies and mestizas. All these women of diverse races lived together during the eight days of each retreat, and together worked, ate, and prayed. Racial integration started in the beaterio.”
The beaterio was the motherhouse of what is now known as the Religiosas de la Virgen Maria or R.V.M sisters.
Today, the building houses the light and sound museum that presents the history of Intramuros.
Baluarte de San Diego
Reaching the end of Sta Lucia Street is Baluarte de San Diego. Researchers and architects have been debating over the purpose of this structure since it was uncovered by the Intramuros Administration in 1978. The base of what appeared to be a tower-like structure at the Baluarte de San Diego has three concentric circles bisecting into quadrants. Later research proved that the bisecting walls were an addition to the original structure.
According to Architect Rene Mata, the original structure could have been the part of the oldest stone fort in Intramuros –Nuestra Senora de Guia.
A theory claimed the structure to be a foundry. However, not enough materials have been found to prove this theory. The theory that it was once used as a cistern is probably correct because of the stone bear traces of terra cotta overlay for waterproofing.
The only fact that scientists from the National Museum who worked on the site now agreed on is that the circular foundation is the oldest structure in Intramuros.
Click here to begin at Plaza Roma
Click here to continue Intramuros Tour
Manila, My Manila by Nick Joaquin
Old Manila by Ramon Zaragoza
Two for the Road by Anita Feleo