Thursday, January 7, 2016

Eight Interesting Facts About Manila

Wazzup Pilipinas! opens the year with some nostalgic trivia that gives us a historical glimpse of real estate and business.

On January 9, millions of devotees will once again head to Quiapo Church for one of the most-awaited religious celebrations of the Philippines, the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Due to its popularity, the Black Nazarene is considered as one of the things that distinguish Manila from all the other cities of the country.

But being the hodgepodge of culture and history it is, the nation’s capital is a lot more fascinating than you think. Should you find yourself in the vicinity anytime soon, these random facts should help you see Manila in a whole new light.

1. The original Black Nazarene is said to have been carved by an anonymous Mexican sculptor and was brought to the country aboard a Spanish galleon from Acapulco, Mexico, back in the mid-1600s. There are several assumptions as to why the statue depicts Jesus having a very dark complexion. One popular account is that there was a fire on the galleon that brought it to the country burned, which charred the statue. Others believe it’s the result of staining from the smoke of votive candles offered to it through the years. According to Monsignor Sabino A. Vengco. Jr. from the Loyola School of Theology, the original image was carved from mesquite wood, a dark type of wood that was commonly used as a sculpting medium during the period.

2. Manila houses one of the world’s biggest and oldest Chinatowns, Binondo. Established in 1594, it also happens to be the first of its kind in the world, and is the center of commerce and trade in the city.

3. Before the arrival of Spanish colonizers, Manila was referred to as “Kingdom of Maynila,” a name coined because of its status as a vassal-state of the Bruneian Empire in the 1500s. The name “Maynila,” in turn, is said to have been derived from a species of plant called nila or nilad that was then abundant in the city, which means” Maynila” literally translates to “There is nilad here.” 

4. Around 6 or 7 million people attended Pope Francis’ final mass at Luneta Park during his visit in January 2015, making it the largest papal event in history. The previous record was also in Manila, when 5 to 6 million devotees flocked to the same venue for Pope John Paul II’s visit on World Youth Day in January 1995. 

5. The Manila Hotel, which has accommodated several internationally known guests over the years, is regarded as the first building in the Philippines to have air conditioning when renovations in 1935 led to the development of the air-conditioned annex in the west wing. The first room to have air conditioning is the Quezon Executive Office located in the MalacaƱang Palace and built between 1937 and 1939. 

6. Escolta, which was once considered the place to be in Manila, is the location of many firsts for the Philippines. It housed the Salon de Pertierra, which opened its doors in 1896 and is considered as the first movie house in the Philippines. The first ice cream store is Clarke’s Ice Cream Parlor located at the foot of the Bridge of Spain (replaced by the Jones Bridge). It’s also the site of the country’s first cable car – the tramvia – and the country’s first elevator, which was located at the Burke Building. 

7. Manila has over 15 sister cities, places with which the capital has social agreements to promote cultural and commercial relations. These include Yokohama, Japan; Beijing, China; Acapulco, Mexico; Honolulu and Maui in Hawaii, United States; Winnipeg, Canada; Moscow, Russia; and Madrid, Spain. 

8. The British laid claim to Manila from 1762 to 1764 during the Seven Years’ War, wherein Britain fought against France and its allies, which included Spain. The war extended to the colonies of the countries involved, leading the British to take 15 ships loaded with almost 7,000 sailors and marines to Manila, seizing the capital as well as nearby Cavite. The British invaders left the Philippines after signing the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years’ War.

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