Colonial Makati


Religious orders were first in detecting Makati’s potential. When Bishop Domingo Salazar OP sought to build Manila a stone cathedral in 1581, friars found volcanic tuff up Pasig River in Makati. The rock, which they called adobe, was quarried to fortify Legaspi’s original wooden fort and turn into a marvelous city of stone mansions. 




In fact, Makati may have taken its name from lamangkati, which in ancient Tagalog means “contents of the earth”. Another story claims Makati could mean “a large land left bare by the ebb of the sea”. According to tradition, when Legaspi asked residents the name of their community, they instead pointed to the swiftly receding tide and called out: “Makati na, kumakati na!



Nuestra Señora de Gratia


Later in 1610, Augustinian missionaries laid foundation for the archipelago’s first sanctuary. Pilgrims, especially galleon-riders and Chinese settlers, climbed 200 steps from the riverbank to Nuestra Señora de Gratia, which had a most picturesque panorama of Manila and its bay. 



War gutted the strategically located church on Bernardino Street beside San Carlos Seminary. The antique stone façade and interior carved with leaves, arabesques, and columns in a Neo-Romanesque-Gothic style makes the place popular for weddings.



Ermita de San Nicholas de Tolentino


The romance of Spain’s colonial excursion also resurrects at the abandoned ruins recently restored Ermita de San Nicholas de Tolentino in West Rembo barrio on the Guadalupe-Pateros Road. It tiny shell recalls a nearby landmark buried in cement during the a 1970’s beautification movement: Buayang Bato, the Crocodile of Stone.  



At the very spot where a Chinese settler called to his patron, the attacking caiman supposedly was petrified. For centuries henceforth, his co-immigrants lit embankments with large red tapers and sailed a giant pagoda during the saint’s feast day, September 10. The date occurs during the Moon Festival season, and fiesta authority Alejandro Roces conjectures it could have been a cover for persisting with pagan traditions.



Sampiro de Makati





Sampiro de Makati Church is another glimpse into Asia’s early Christianization. Sampiro is local nickname for San Pedro. Apostles Peter and Paul share billing as titulars in a charmingly reconstructed church on Burgos Street that is venue for Bailes de los Arcos –a quadrille to the Nuestra Señora de la Rosa, performed annually on the Virgin’s Day as typhoon season starts.



Each dainty step, click of the castanet, or wave of the floral arches, must be mastered according to colonial choreography and performed with piety. Elder’s insist marring rain means the year’s lead dancer is longer chaste.


Related series:

Click Part I – Church of Nuestra Señora de Gratia, Part II – Guadalupe’s San Nicholasi, Part III –Sampiro de Makati,  Part IV –Old Makati’s Bailes de los Arcos, Part VI – Nielsen Tower, Part VII –The Manila American Cemetery, Part VIII Reposo Street Makati



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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. i was born, raised, educated(to high school) and makati as it is today , is progressive but cannot be compared to any otheter city as it still holds the ‘past,present and future’.
    sad to say many of BARANGAY POBLACION’s identifying langmarks like HAGDANG BATO( jp rizal near barangay hall), no longer exists.
    i hope the MAKATI CULTURAL FOUNDATION will preserve historical landmarks and not allow ‘destruction in the name of progress.

  2. Most people are drawn to Makati because of its ultra-modern environment Arnold and overlook that amidst the skyscrapers are these historical structures that laid the foundation of Makati as we knew it today.

    I’m posting your article about Makati for those who are interested in finding out more about this historic city.

  3. great places in makati! like the old air strip not too many know that this places exist.

    this one is good!

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