Tag Archive: San Sebastian Church

This list was emailed to me. Have been to, seen and photographed some but not all. Thought I’d throw in some of these photos here for a photowalk — to inspire us all to visit each site. It’s just around the corner! NEED HELP. IF U HAVE PHOTOS AND WANT TO SAVE ME THE TRIP, PLEASSSSSSEEEEE SEND ME. THANKS.

Oldest Steel Church

Despite the discrepancies in the dates of its founding, the San Sebastian Church is the only steel church in Asia built in the late 18th century. It should have celebrated its centennial around 1991. Yet, it seems that not even the Catholic administration paid any interest in its historical significance or in the fact that it was Alexander Gustave Eiffel who designed it.

San Sebastian Church

Oldest Restaurant

New Toho Food Center (1888, 422 Tomas Pinpin Street, Binondo, Manila) Five Chinese friends set this up in Binondo, Manila, where the restaurant still stands, in a newer structure also on Tomas Pinpin (formerly San Jacinto) Street which was built after a fire razed the wooden building back in 1984. That explains the slight change in the name. It used to be called the Toho Antigua Panciteria.

Oldest Province

Aklan, originally known as Minuro it Akean, is considered as the oldest province in the country and believed to have been established as early as 1213 by settlers from Borneo. Its first ruler was Datu Dinagandan. In 1399,Datu Kalantiaw grabbed the throne. In 1433, Kalantiaw III formulated a set of laws that is known today as the Code of Kalantiaw.

These days, Aklan is better known as the province to which Boracay belongs.

Oldest Town

Unisan, Quezon could be the oldest town in the Philippines. The people of Unisan claimed that their town is now 481 years old, having been established in 1521, the same year that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. All other towns in the country were established not earlier than 1565, when Spain formally occupied the Philippines as a colony.A Malayan queen named Ladya reportedly founded Calilayan, the old name of the town. In 1876, Calilayan was renamed Unisan which was derived from the Latin word uni-sancti, meaning “holy saint”. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Shoreline of Unisan, Quezon

Oldest City

Cebu City is considered as the oldest city in the country, as this was the site of the earliest European settlement established by Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez De Legazpi in 1565.


Oldest Fort

The first Spanish settlement in the country, Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus, was located inside Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. The fort’s construction began in 1565.


Oldest Street

Calle Colon in Cebu City is considered as the oldest street in the country. Named after explorer Christopher Columbus, Calle Colon was first constructed in 1565 by men of Miguel Lopez De Legazpi.

Oldest Stone Church

The Baclayon Church in Bohol is considered as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. But some historians disagree, claiming that San Agustin Church in Manila deserves the title.

Inside Baclayon Church in Bohol

Church historians claim that the cornerstones of San Agustin Church were laid as early as 1571, 25 years before Baclayon Church was built in 1596. But most people believe the title should be kept by the latter, since it is situated in the island first occupied by the troops of Miguel Lopez De Legazpi, the country’s first Spanish governor general.

Bohol was where a friendship was sealed with blood between Chieftain Rajah Sikatuna and Legazpi. The event is known today as”The Blood Compact.”

Oldest Hospital

The San Lazaro Hospital could be the oldest hospital in the country. According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the San Lazaro hospital was established in 1578; Enfermeria de Naga, 1583; and Hospital de San Juan de Dios, 1596.

Oldest Church Bell

The oldest church bell in the country is said to be the one found in Camalaniugan, Cagayan. That bell was reportedly forged in 1595.

Oldest Bridge

The Jones Bridge, formerly known as Fuente de Espana, was first built in 1701. It was rebuilt by the Americans in 1916 and renamed after Atkinson Jones.

Oldest University

The University of San Carlos (U.S.C.) in Cebu City is considered as the oldest school in the country and in Asia. Formerly known as the Colegio de San Ildefonso, it was founded by the Spanish Jesuits on August 1, 1595. This makes the Cebu-based university older than theUniversity of Santo Tomas (1611) in Manila andHarvard University (1636) in the United States.

The University of Santo Tomas, however, contests this title. Formerly known as the Colegio de Nuestra Señora Del Rosario,U.S.T. was the first school, which got a university status in 1645. U.S.C. became a university in 1948. UST also claimed that the original U.S.C. was closed in 1769 as a result of the expulsion of the Jesuits. It reopened in 1783 under a new name and ownership. But the USC officials stick to their claim. The university observed its 400th foundation day on August 21, 1995.


Oldest Vocational School

The Don Honorio Ventura College of Arts and Trades (DHVCAT) inBacolor, Pampanga is said to be the oldest vocational school in Asia. Augustinian Friar Juan Zita and civic leader Don Felino Gil established the vocational school on November 4, 1861.

Oldest Company

Ayala Corp., one of the largest conglomerates in the country, is also the oldest existing company around. It was established in 1834 by sugar barons Domingo Roxas and Antonio de Ayala. It was later renamed as Casa Ayala, then as Ayala y Compania and recently as Ayala Corp.

Oldest Bank

In 1881, Domingo Roxas, an ancestor of the Ayala family, became one of the first directors of Banco Español-Filipino De Isabel II,which was founded by virtue of a royal decree issued by Queen Isabel II. The bank issued the country’s first currency notes the following year. Considered as the first private commercial bank in the country, the bank came to be known as the Bank of Philippine Islands in 1912. The oldest savings bank was Monte de Piedad, which was established in 1882.

Bank of the Philippine Islands Branch in Vigan

Oldest Rizal Monument

What can be considered as the oldest in the country is a 20-foot metal structure standing at a park in Daet, Camarines Norte. Its construction reportedly began on December 30, 1898 and was finished in February 1899. In comparison, the Rizal monument at the former Luneta Park was built in 1912.

Oldest Insurance Firm

Insular Life Insurance Company was established on November 26, 1910, becoming the oldest insurance agency in the country.

La Gota de Leche


Skipping Manila? I know …. the sun and sand beckons in the beaches of Boracay. There’s serious diving in Palawan. You long to breathe the mountain air in Baguio and Benguet,  or simply go completely rustic in the northermost part of the country in Batanes. Or maybe you want to try your surfboards in Siargao or even check out the tarsiers and chocolate hills in Bohol.  For many, it’s the heritage sites in Vigan and Laoag in the Ilocos region, where one is transported in time to a colonial era.  The air is cleaner, less crowded, people likely less busy and thus friendlier, and board and lodging even cheaper in the islands south of Manila and the provinces north of Manila.


La Gota de Leche

And Then There’s Manila…..


I can’t blame you.  Manila is so congested, dirty in many parts of the city, and traffic is so bad.  I live in the better part of  Metro Manila not too far from the shopping malls and fancy restaurants  lining the streets of Makati.  I hardly venture out of Makati. In fact, it has been ages since I last got to the center of Manila where one finds Rizal  Park,  Intramuros with its city walls and Fort Santiago.  Whenever I have foreign visitors who have a day or a whole afternoon to spend in Manila, I would invariably bring them to Intramuros and Fort Santiago, and simply point out Rizal  Park as we pass this park along the way.  These 3 are the likely top tourist attractions in the city, but I’d say only because not too many write or talk about the other interesting historic sites in the metropolis.



No, it is not a secret.  We have heard of some of these places, even watched documentaries on television about them.  But perhaps not often  enough. Nor enough.  Many history books hardly talk about them too.  And as soon as we hear the heritage sites are in Quiapo,  many of us would either lose interest or feel not too brave to walk the streets there.   Sad but true.  And I am ashamed to admit it.


Quiapo Church




QUIAPO is best known for the Quiapo Church, the official “residence” of the Black Nazarene. Around the Church, one finds many hawkers selling religious articles side by side vendors selling “anting-anting” (charms, herbs, amulets, voodoo items) . Crossing the plaza towards the Church, one would likely meet “traders” who would not too subtly whisper the  dollar-peso exchange rate for those interested to change their precious dollars to Philippine pesos.  Mixing with the crowd are likely predators on the lookout for “innocent victims”.   You find them too in the streets of Madrid, Paris, Prague and Rome.  The bag snatchers and thieves.  Sadly, these characters kept many like me from visiting this place more often.


All That Chaos Towards A Center of Spirituality!

Garden View from Inside La Gota de Leche

La Gota de Leche


Amidst all the chaos, it is a pleasant surprise to find this corner of elegance.  A kind of class that soothes the nerves.   Like some oasis which quenches the thirst for some degree of tranquility.  


Literally means “drop of milk”.  This place was inaugurated in 1907 by then Governor-General, later US President William Howard Taft.  Designed by Arcadio and Juan Arellano, fathers of Philippine architecture, inspired by the Hospital of the Innocents, an orphanage in Florence designed by Brunelleschi, a renowned  Italian Renaissance architect.  As if to indicate what this structure stands for, there are decorative reliefs on pediments with images of infants.


Established as a clinic to address malnutrition concerns among the indigents, it was run  by the La Proteccion de la Infancia, Inc. This outreach organization was founded by philanthropist Teodoro R. Yangco in 1907. Records show the construction was completed in 1917 so that makes this building nearly a hundred years old.  You can say this organization was the country’s very first NGO or non-government organization.  A charity project dedicated to infants and young children, its operations involved the distribution of milk to indigent children. It further evolved to champion women’s rights as it also houses the “Kababaihan Laban sa Karahasan Foundation” (literally “Women Against Violence”). The charity organization exists to this day, and must take credits for the restoration of this building in 2002-2003, for which it was awarded the 2003 Heritage Award of the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.


Located in 859 Sergio Loyola Street (parallel to Morayta Street), La Gota de Leche is very near the University of the East.  It almost sticks out like a sore thumb in the University Belt, in Sampaloc to be precise, in an  area hemmed in by sidewalk vendors, dilapidated buildings and smelly trash bins. But La Gota stands proud like an old contessa, with its cross-vaulted arcaded loggias, front garden and a non-functional water fountain.

Bahay Nakpil

Bahay Nakpil


Bahay means house.  This is the house of the Nakpils and Bautistas, built in 1914 Truth is the house should be called Bahay Nakpil-Bautista. Besides being a century-old house , its distinction lies in its being home to some of our heroes of the 1896 revolution.  Located in A. Bautista Street, just off Ramon Hidalgo Street,  the 2 Philippine flags and a marker in front of the house are the only tell-tale signs that it is a house of distinction.  Right beside it is another house, even older, which seems ready to collapse anytime. Both are of the “bahay na bato” architecture which literally means “house made of stone”, though structure is really that of an upper storey made of wood built over a stone foundation.  Typical of the bahay na bato, architect Arcadio Arellano incorporated Viennese Secession motifs into the making of the house. Oddly, the style was adopted after the family received a gift of Secessionist furniture such that the design of the house worked around the furniture motifs.


Street Scene @Bahay Nakpil


The house is owned and built by Dr. Ariston Bautista, a noted propagandist during the Philippine Revolution .  His wife was Petrona Nakpil, whose brother, Julio Nakpil, composed the secret society Katipunan’s patriotic hymns.  Katipunan was founded by Andres Bonifacio, who is married to Gregoria de Jesus.  Inside, there is a marker citing that this has also been home to Gregoria de Jesus, widow of working class hero Andres Bonifacio, who then married Julio Nakpil.  Bahay Nakpil-Bautista was also the place where the family operated its Plateria Nakpil which crafted many jewelry pieces highly prized by Manila’s elite at the time. As distinguised Quiapo families,  the house witnessed many social gatherings and concerts aside from being home to national heroes and artists. Continue reading