A QUIAPO LANDMARK. We see this unusual architecture dominating the skyline of a residential neighborhood in Quiapo whenever we pass by Paterno Street to get to Plaza del Carmen from Quezon Boulevard. We thought its unusual because the structure looks like a Chinese temple with a tower at the right hand that resembles a medieval castle.
In one of our visits to Quiapo, we went through quaint little streets that twist and turn, almost got discouraged to continue with our walking tour because of the occasional canines before finding ourselves in front of this architectural landmark -this is the Ocampo Pagoda.
DON MARIANO’S PRE-WAR GARDEN. Located in densely populated residential zone, the pagoda was constructed in 1935, a time when the huge area surrounding it was part of a vast estate of Don Jose Mariano Ocampo. Although a lawyer by education, he was a realtor. The pagoda was built to adorn his garden and at same time to house his realty firm. However, with its completion in 1939, World War II broke out and the structure was used as an air raid shelter.
OCAMPO QUIAPO ESTATE. The Ocampo Pagoda and the garden surrounding it may have survived war bombings but not commercialism and disregard. It’s no longer in a garden since Ocampo’s heirs sold the property. The new owners built structures, dismantling the artwork in cement that once adorned the garden together with the pagoda. The pagoda is converted into a boarding house for seafarers waiting for employment.
PRE-WAR STATUES. But we learned that some of the old statues from the pre-war Ocampo garden are still existing. To find it, we need to take another way to get to rear of the building. From Paterno, we turned left to De Guzman Street then turned another left to a narrow street after the bridge where we found religious statues lining the street.
EPILOGUE. Further down the street, hidden in between houses and partially visible from a very narrow gap is a statue of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel sitting on a globe that is held by human figures.