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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

Every year since it began, I've had the pleasure of being part of the National Heritage Month and I've been invited to visit the host cities by the Filipino Heritage Festival Inc. experiencing first-hand its culture, culinary treats, and of course the heritage treasures that make each city unique.
In a way, I guess, I became more aware of the importance of our heritage and I realized, Manila itself has its own heritage sites that, we pass by them everyday, we don't even know their importance and history. So for a time, I decided to go around Manila and find those heritage sites. I found a few which are recognized by the National Historical Institute and took some pics with my phone's camera. I know I should have taken my DSLR with me but hey, I wanted to try if I can take nice enough pics with just a camera phone.
First is the Orchid Garden Suites, a boutique hotel that was built in 1931. 

It used to be the living quarters of the Japanese Navy in World War II then later served as home to the Indonesian Embassy. It received its recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2001. 
Three blocks away is the Malate Church or the Our Lady of Remedios Parish. Founded in 1588 by the Augustinians, the church used to be frequented by pregnant women having difficulty in their pregnancy and was likewise a business hub during the Spanish era.

A jeepney ride to Intramuros would pass by the Bonifacio Shrine and the Metropolitan Theatre. The shrine by Eduardo Castrillo at the Mehan Garden displays selected timelines of Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio.

The Metropolitan Theatre on the other hand, was completed in 1935 with Architect Juan Arellano at the helm. What used to be the center for top-rate theatre performances in Manila closed its curtains during the 1960s. Restorations were in vain but the building still stands and still houses famous murals of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo: "The Dance" and the "History of Music." 

Inside Intramuros, a heritage site in itself, are the San Agustin Church and the Palacio del Gobernador. According to its marker, the San Agustin Church is one of four Baroque churches in the country and possesses exceptional universal value that deserves protection for the benefit of all humanity. 

Further down the center of Intramuros, just right across the Manila Cathedral, is the Palacio, which houses government offices as well as the Intramuros Administration. 

Crossing the Pasig river via the Quezon bridge (or Puente Quezon, which was by Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris), would lead to Quiapo Church. It is the home of the Black Nazarene, a life-size carving of Jesus Christ carved in Mexico and brought to the Philippines in 1767 via Spanish Galleon.
Further down España, is the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas. Established in 1611, UST bred national heroes, four Philippine presidents, Supreme Court Justices, national artists, and top business people.

Nearby, along S.H. Loyola, is the Gota de Leche or "drop of milk". Designed in 1915 by who is considered as one of the founding fathers of Philippine architecture Arcadio Arellano, the Gota de Leche received its marker from the NHI in 2004.

It is now also the office of women's rights group, Kababaihan Laban sa Karahasan.
Further down the University Belt area is the San Sebastian Church, the overall structure of which is another work of Eiffel and designed by Spaniard Genero Palacios. It is an all-steel and Gothic church, making it the only one of its kind in the country and perhaps Asia.
These are just some of the heritage sites that passed the criteria UNESCO set. I may have missed a whole lot more and I'd appreciate it if any of you would be kind enough to let me know.
So what's the importance of recognizing structures as heritage sites? These are, according to UNESCO, "sites that are of outstanding importance, either cultural or natural, to the common heritage of humankind." These are places that hold such historical value that, through the preservation efforts and perseverance of institutions such as the NHI and National Commission for Culture and the Arts, will hopefully still be around for the future generation to appreciate and enjoy.

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