Monday, July 13, 2009

San Ignacio de Manila: A Tour

Have a look at THIS. Just for fun, I was reading up on the seven great churches of Intramuros, the Walled City that was practically the whole of Manila until the end of the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. One of the newest churches then, and one of the most lamented as well when Intramuros was reduced into a pile of rubble in WWII, was San Ignacio de Manila, the Jesuit's 'golden dream.' The church was built in 1889, thirty years after the Company returned to Philippine shores and established the Escuela Municipal de Manila (the present day Ateneo de Manila). San Ignacio was built in a neo-classical/baroque idiom, with some of the best artists in the Philippines filling its hallowed halls with art. Its artesonado ceiling-- taking cues from the Renaissance-- was the toast of the town, as there were none like it that the rest of Manila could boast.

Sadly, the war would claim San Ignacio. When the church was burned down, it is said that there had been no Mass celebrated there for three years, having been shut by the Japanese out of fear that served as the headquarters of the guerilla forces. San Ignacio was said to have burned for days, and when the war is over, none but the outer shells of San Ignacio remained. There are plants, however, to rebuild the structure, not as a church, but as an Ecclesiastical museum to house the roughly Php 140 billion ($3 billion) worth of artifacts amassed by the Intramuros Administration throughout the years.

It is nice to see the San Ignacio in its glory days, if only in pictures. As it stands, however, the destruction of Old Manila was an incredibly heartbreaking thing.

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