Sta. Cruz Church in Manila is surrounded by three open spaces; in front is Plaza Santa Cruz where the Carriedo Fountain is reinstalled; Plaza Goiti, now known as Plaza Lacson at the rear and a wide street on the right leading to Santa Cruz Bridge.
Escolta –the main business street during the turn-of-the-century Manila leads to this open space from across the bridge. It was also in this surrounding plaza that the British returned the city of Manila to Gobernador Simon de Anda y Salazar after 20 months of British Occupation.
Church of Sta. Cruz
The area surrounding the present of Sta. Cruz began as a Jesuit mission under Rector Antonio Sedeño, the person responsible in the fortification of Intramuros using blocks of adobe. Named after the Holy Cross, the church was built and administered by the Jesuits up to 1768.
Shortly before the expulsion of the Jesuit in the Philippines, a replica of the venerated image of the Nuestra Señora del Pillar was brought over to Sta. Cruz Church from Zaragoza, Spain.
Tradition holds that when St. James the Apostle went to evangelize Spain, he had little success. One night on the banks of the River Ebro, the Blessed Mother appeared to him atop a pillar of jasper stone and promised him that his mission would be fruitful as he had a church erected in her honor on the site. Departing, the Blessed Mother left the pillar of jasper on which the original image still stands today in Spain.
However, it was only in the middle of the 19th century that the Our Lady of the Pillars was declared patroness of Sta. Cruz district, replacing San Entanislao Kostka. For next centuries up the present, she was the object of veneration among devotees of the Blessed Virgin.
British Surrender of Manila to Governor Simon de Anda
When England declared war on Spain in January 1762, the British invasion of Manila took place eight months later. On September 24 a squadron of thirteen British ships and 6,830 men entered Manila Bay towards the beach of Malate. The acting governor of Manila, Archbishop Manuel Rojo, received news of the war but did nothing to strengthen the Spanish army. By October 5, the British had created a breached in Intramuros’ wall. They occupied the Palacio del Gobernador and Rojo hoisted a white flag over the deserted Fort Santiago.
Don Simon de Anda, a member of the Real Audencia slipped out of Manila and organized a provincial government in Bacolor, Pampanga. With the help of natives, he confined the British to the area around Manila.
With the signing of the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763, the Seven Year’s War in Europe ended. The Philippines and Cuba, under the provisions of the treaty were retuned to Spain. Only upon the death of Rojo that a new governor, Francisco de la Torre, arrived from Mexico that Anda turned over the governorship. It is said that in recognition of Anda’s valor who despite being outnumbered and outgunned and despite his age (he was in his 60’s) had refused to recognized British sovereignty and led a resistance against them, Governor dela Torre discreetly claimed illness in order that the Manila would be turned over to Simon de Anda by the British.
On the evening of April 1, 1764 at the ground surrounding Sta. Cruz Church, British commander Blackhouse, surrendered over the keys of Manila to Governor Anda. A century later, the colonial government recognized Anda’s heroic stand and honored him with a monument on that stood at Malecon del Sur (Anda Monument not erected at Bonifacio Drive at the end of Aduana Street) and a marble plaque installed on the wall of Santa Cruz Church facing Escolta.
The plaque below Anda’s bust are the words: 1764. IN THIS SITE THE PLAZA OF MANILA WAS RETURNED BY THE INVADING ENEMY TO THE EMINENT PATRICIAN D. SIMON DE ANDA Y. SALAZAR. FILIPINAS ERECTS THIS TO HIS MEMORY. YEAR 1870.
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Santa Cruz Church, A Living Heritage