Saturday, July 17, 2010

Remembering Remembrances

Remembering Old Intramuros, one would always marvel its ancient churches, government buildings, promenades, baluartes and thick walls. Most often than not, monuments erected in memory of a person or an event is not viewed in such awe as compared to the edifices that were enumerated earlier. I think, it is befitting that we must give these “commemoratives” the proper commemoration that they deserve.

Citizens' Gratitude

Earliest of the monuments around the perimeters of the ancient Walled City is the Rey Carlos IV Monument. Casted in 1808, it was erected in the Philippine soil, in front of the Manila Cathedral in 1824 in gratitude to His Royal Highness, the King of Spain, because of the shipment of the vaccines used to cure small pox that infested the Philippine inhabitants in the early 1800’s. The place where it stands was known as the Plaza Mayor during the Spanish Colonization, Plaza McKinley in the American Period and nowadays, Plaza Roma. The Statue of the King was replaced by a monument dedicated to Gomburza in 1960’s and was returned on its original site in 1981.

The inscription in the monument reads: Al Rey de Carlos IV en gratito al non beneficio de la vacuna los habitantes de Filipinas.

From a Governor General to a Governor General

Taking a ride along the Bonifacio Drive outside the Walled City, one may see a marble memorial dedicated to the 41st Governor General of the Philippines, Simeon de Anda y Salazar. It was erected in 1871 through the efforts of the then Governor General, Carlos Maria dela Torre, to commemorate Anda’s efforts to fight British forces during their brief invasion of the Spanish colony. The Monument was first erected just outside the Fort Santiago, near the mouth of the Pasig River. It was dismantled in 1960’s and was moved to the present site during the construction of the Del Pan Bridge. The place where the monument currently stands is now known as the Anda Circle.

Lost Treasure

In 1848, a monument dedicated to the discoverer of the Philippine Islands was erected. Inscribed with Fernando Magallanes’ name, it was a monumental column decorated with laurel leaves and anchors, symbols for his victory in navigation. The bronze globe as well as the merlions was probably exported from Belgium. It had once erected outside the Puerta Isabel II until it was moved to near the Aduana Building at the back of Intendencia in 1904 after part of its wall was leveled down. The monument is a casualty of the Second World War, and now lost in oblivion after the US Military clean up crew bulldozed the said column, pushing it down to the Pasig River

The Cross and the Sword

The triumph of the cross and sword over the Philippine Archipelago commemorates the Legazpi-Urdaneta Monument. It was commissioned by the Spanish government in the Philippines in the late 1890’s to the famous Catalonian sculptor, Agustin Querol y Subirals. By the time of its completion, it was already the Americans who were occupying the islands. It was shipped from Barcelona to Manila and was stored inside the customs storeroom for decades until it was finally erected between 1929 -1931, at the time of American Governor General Dwight F. Davies. The bronze and granite monument depicts Miguel Lopez de Legaspi holding a sword (now missing), symbolizes Spain’s triumph in ruling the colony and Fray Andres de Urdaneta holding a cross signifying the victory of the Catholic Church.

Well-Traveled Queen

The Queen of Spain, Reina Isabel II instructed Ponciano Ponzano, a Spanish sculptor to cast a bronze statue of her image and likeness, which will be shipped to Manila where it will be erected in her honor. The statue of the queen arrived in the Philippine soil on July 14, 1860, with much pomp and pageantry as if the queen in her flesh came. It was first erected at the Plaza Arroceros. Due to the queen’s mismanagement of her royal court, an uprising known as the Carlist Revolution of 1868 was plotted against her. He went into an exile and was replaced by her son. Meanwhile in the Philippines, a new government was established, in the person of Governor General Carlos Maria de la Torre, a Carlist. His first anti-Bourbon move in the islands was to dismantle the former queen’s statue and to dump it in a bodega. Due to the fear that the statue will be melted down and its iron be used for other purposes, the Sociedad Economica de Amigos de Pais requested that they would like to keep it as a work of art. But because it was not funded by the Spanish Government in the Philippines, it was not handed to them. It was instead stored in one of the bodegas inside the Ayuntamiento. When the Anti-Bourbon campaign slightly subsided, the statue finally found a new place to stand. In 1896, Malate Church served as her second home. It stood there until fierce typhoon Yoling toppled her down in 1970. The statue was returned to Intramuros in 1975, when it was restored in time for the state visit of her great great-grandson Principe Carlos, later King Carlos of Spain. How befitting that she was installed near an ancient gate where her name was also inscribed, the Puerta Isabel II.

His Eminence

An archbishops’ educational legacy to the Filipinos was immortalized by a quaint but proud statue erected near the church of Santo Domingo and facing the portals of the Universidad de Santo Tomas inside the Walled City. Dedicated to Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, OP, it commemorates his desire to build an educational institution, with the funds he bequeathed together with his personal library collection. His dream came to a reality in 1611 when the Colegio de Nuestra SeƱora del Rosario, was known later as the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, the first Catholic university in Asia. The statue was commissioned in Paris in 1889 and was probably casted by Tony Noel, a name found at the back of his image. It was unveiled inside Intramuros in 1891. The statue was transferred to its new location after the Second World War at Espana, Manila, the new university site purchased by the Dominicans in 1927. A fiberglass replica was placed in 2003 at the same spot where it was originally installed.

With the exemption of the Benavides Monument, how ironic that these ancient monuments, originally installed to give credits to whatever they commemorate, are now neglected. Do we really need another World War for them to be destructed just to see their historical and cultural significance? If that happens, all we can say then is “sayang…”

- - -

Photo Credits

The University of Michigan Digital Library and Photographic Archives