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Friday, October 9, 2015

10 Iconic Structures in the Philippines

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Over the years, the Philippines has produced some amazing architectural structures that can be considered as national gems, not just for their aesthetics but also for the way they molded the country into to what it is today. Noted Philippine real estate marketplace MyProperty lists 10 of the country’s most historically and culturally significant edifices. From an antique lighthouse to a modern condominium, here are their choices for the most recognizable structures in the country.

The Manila Hotel (Ermita, Manila). Built in 1909, the Manila Hotel is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines and was opened in conjunction with the commemoration date of the American Independence. Built on a 35,000 sqm reclaimed area and composed of 570 rooms, the five-star hotel served as the residence of General Douglas MacArthur from 1935 to 1941, and has also hosted worldfamous personalities like the late U.S. president John F. Kennedy, author Ernest Hemingway, actor John Wayne, and entertainer Michael Jackson.

The Gramercy Residences (Makati City). Rising 262 meters in Century City, Makati, The Gramercy Residences is currently the tallest building in the Philippines, dethroning the 259-meter-tall PBCom Tower when the former was officially opened in 2012. Developed by Century Properties, the 73-story condominium’s main attraction is Skypark, which is located at the 36th floor and houses features like a three-story waterfall, lagoon pools, a garden island, and a cantilevering walkway. 

Intramuros (Manila). As the oldest district of Manila, Intramuros was the seat of government during the Spanish colonial period. In 1590, the area along the southern bank of Pasig River facing Manila Bay was enclosed with walls 22 feet high and 8 feet thick to protect the government from foreign invaders, earning it the moniker “Walled City.” Declared a historical monument in 1951, Intramuros houses many historically and culturally significant features, such as the Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila; and Fort Santiago, a national shrine and popular tourist destination. 


San Agustin Church (Intramuros, Manila). It would be impossible to name Intramuros and not count San Agustin Church as an icon of historical value. Built between 1587 and 1606, it is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, and was the only structure out of all the buildings in the Walled City to survive the Battle of Manila during the Second World War. It was named a National Historical Landmark in 1976 by the Philippine government and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, inscribed under the “Baroque Churches of the Philippines.”

Philippine Arena (Santa Maria, Bulacan). With a maximum capacity of 55,000 people, the Philippine Arena is considered as the biggest indoor arena in the world, a title made official by the Guinness World Records in 2014. The arena, which was officially opened in May 2014 by Christian denomination Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) to mark their centennial celebration that year, sits on a 99,200 sqm land and has a dome spanning 9,000 square meters. Aside from religious occasions by INC, the venue has also hosted various other events, such as the 2014–2015 season opening ceremonies of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the first anniversary of American performer Katy Perry’s The Prismatic World Tour in 2015. 


San Sebastian Church (Quiapo, Manila). Completed only in 1891, this Gothic revival structure is far from being one of the oldest religious structures in the Philippines, but its fame lies in its architectural features. San Sebastian Church, also known as the Basílica Menor de San Sebastián, holds the honor of being the only all-steel temple in the country, and the only prefabricated steel church in the world. In 1973, it was declared a National Historic Landmark by the Philippine government.

Cultural Center of the Philippines (Pasay and Manila). Constructed on the initiative of former First Lady Imelda Marcos in 1966, The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex was founded for the preservation, development, and promotion of the country’s arts and culture. CCP serves as a venue for both local and international performances, festivals, and exhibitions, and has played host to worldrenowned artists like Plácido Domingo, Marcel Marceau, the Royal Ballet, and the New York Philharmonic. However, CCP also makes an effort to make culture and arts accessible to all Filipinos, lending support to the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival and the Philippine High School for the Arts.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (Burgos, Ilocos Norte). Also known as the Burgos Lighthouse, the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is considered as the oldest still-active Spanish-era lighthouse in the Philippines. Built by the Spanish government as part of their plan to light up the Philippine archipelago, the 66-foottall octagonal stone lighthouse was first lit in March 30, 1892, serving as a beacon to galleons sailing through the northwestern-most point of Luzon. It was declared a National Historical Landmark in 2004 and a National Cultural Treasure in 2005. 


National Library of the Philippines (Ermita, Manila). The history of the National Library can be traced as far back as 1887 in the establishment of the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas (Museum-Library of the Philippines) by the Spanish government. Its current bibliographic collection consists of over 1.6 million pieces, including over 210,000 books, more than 880,000 manuscripts, and over 170,000 newspaper issues. But perhaps its most significant claim to fame is that it houses the original copies of Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and “Mi último adios,” the most definitive literary works of national hero José Rizal. 


Silliman University (Dumaguete, Negros Oriental). Founded in 1901, Silliman University is the first American university in the Philippines, not to mention the entire continent of Asia. It was originally established as Silliman Institute by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions as a school for boys, but was expanded into a college, and then became a university in 1938. The most prominent feature of the university is Silliman Hall, the oldest standing American structure in the country, and currently serving as the school’s Anthropology Museum. In 2002, the university was declared a National Landmark by the National Historical Institute.

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