Monday, 30 April 2012

Forum Theater

 By: Paolo M. Bustamante

When it comes to visiting historical sites, I am always determined to make things go smoothly and I always make sure that I am not alone. So when my friend (Franz Mayo) and I planned to go to Rizal Avenue, I made sure that we follow a certain schedule. We never bring a map,  just our money, a camera and our wit. I don't know with you guys but my friend and I know if something is historical, so when I saw this art deco looking structure, I could not help but to take a picture of it. Little did I know that it was once a theater that was once again forgotten by society.

The Forum Theater was built by Pablo Antonio in 1968 it not only served as a theater but it is it was once a shopping center known as the New Cinema Shopping Center and also an Office Building. Talk about three in one. Even though the Philippines was giving way to a new breed of style of architecture in the 60's which is the international style, Pablo Ocampo embraced the art deco movement and still incorporated it with his works. The Forum Theater is along Rizal Avenue near Doroteo Jose and when you ride the LRT you will see that the top floor is roofless and very much neglected. 

I commend former President Marcos for building the LRT. Remember that we are the first in Southeast Asia to build such pioneering construction but there is one thing he forgot, never thought what will happen to Rizal Avenue after 20 years . In life, we always plan and sometimes, they turn out the way we expected. Rizal Avenue is now dead and the culprit is the construction of the LRT.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Castaneda House

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

There are certain things every Mayor or any politician of any position should remember, like which street should not be renamed. Which day should be declared a holiday . Which part of the city needs remodeling. But the one thing that every politician can forget is they do not think before demolishing something (or giving permit to people who are about to demolish something) It is a question we . the heritage activists ask ourselves, That's why there is a big difference between a good politician from a great politician.  Good politicians are the people we can rely on. Great politicians envisions about the consequences or the outcome of the action that they are about to do.

There is a part in Sampaloc Manila wherein ancestral houses are fused to make the district of Sampaloc a potential tourist spot. But unfortunately for the district, these ancestral houses are left to rot. It is quite sad that none of our government officials see the potential of Sampaloc.because they think that there is no hope for it to rise again. These ancestral houses can be converted into a heritage area, just like the houses in Batangas. I suggest that the Mayor should go around his city more.

There is a house in G. Tuazon St., Sampaloc Manila that was built by a family who was widely known in Sampaloc and that is the Castaneda Family.   Rolando Almario is an ex-kagawad and a carpenter. He has been living in this house for more than 50 years. According to him, the house was built in 1910 it was very much alive until the 1940's. After the WWII, when the city of Manila was in ruins, poverty broke out and the Casranedas had to compromise and of course that led to the chain reaction of events, The Castanedas never recovered after the war. Today the facade of the Castaneda house looks neglected and some of the details of the house are missing. It is never too late to save the house.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Casa Conecuera

 By: Paolo M. Bustamante

A couple of weeks ago I was in  National University with a friend to watch a basketball game between San Beda V.S. NU. Watching basketball was never my thing, so I took a glimpse on what is outside the school, and from where I was standing, I could almost see half of Manila.  If you are standing at the west wing of the school you will see the main building of U.S.T. but if you are in the gym, you will see a number of ancestral houses waiting to tbe discovered and nice thing about it is that they are scattered around the place. I was very eager to visit all but I would definitely need the whole day to interview the owners. I first went to this mysterious looking house, the house looks like the houses in Vigan execept for the tacky green wall that the owners built outside the house to avoid burglars and housebreakers.

The Casa Conecuera is located along G.Tuazon St. Manila. I interviewed Raff Roxas, his great grandmother, Dona Isabella Conecuera, is the original owner of the house and according him the house is more than 100 years old he said it was built in the late 1890's. The family has no plans on selling the place. The house was handed down from one generation to the next and Dona Isabella noted to never sell the place. The current owners made sure that the house is well maintained, spotless and is still habitable because as of now there are more than two families living in that house. The Casa Conecuera is the only thing they've got to remember their great grandmother and their ancestors.

Before Raffy and I parted ways, he told me that before, the street of G.Tuazon is filled with old houses. Now there are more or less 10 houses in the street and nsome of them are in good conditon some of the houses are grubby and unmaintained. There will come a time that those houses will be gone, who knows maybe they will be converted into a parking lot or an apartment after all the houses in G. Tuazon are surrounded by colleges and universities. Only time can tell.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

St. Anselm's Hall

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

San Beda also houses my sister's spots in the campus. One thing is the CAS Library, or the College of Arts and Sciences Library. She said that that is not your typical library. In this place, people make noise. People either sleep there or just chat, which is perfectly fine. The library is eternally cold and fragrant –fragrant in the sense that it has the new-book smell. It is like her bat cave,

The St. Anselm's Hall is one of the four major buildings in San Beda College. The St. Anselm's Hall is where the College of Arts and Science is located. It was built in July 1963 after the construction of the St. Benedict's Hall during the term of Fr. Bernabarre. Its architectural style is very similar to the facade of the 1950's Esso Building (now the PhilAmlife Building) in Issac Pearl St. and the UST Archi Building.

San Beda had incorporated a lot of architectural styles through the years.It reflects how timeless and how the Philippine architecture evolves because as time sifts, they always make sure that they will always leave a historic mark in every decade that passes by. From the well preserved neo-gothic San Beda Chapel, to the art deco St. Benedict's Hall, these buildings will serve as reminders that through the years, San Beda will forever be a school who values its history and culture.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

St. Benedict's Hall

By: Patricia M. Bustamante &
Paolo M. Bustamante

We also have many buildings that are littered with classrooms that are always filled with good stories and memories made by every Bedan. Some of which are very old as seen in the tiles used and the tables and chairs used. Some are newly renovated. The others are just small –with small armchairs and all, because some of the classrooms in San Beda used to be the classroom of Grade School students back when they were still all-boys and in the Manila campus.

Since there is only one building at that time, the St. Bede's Hall was built in 1926 (which is the cornerstone of the school), the college decided to construct another building for the high school. The St. Benedict's Hall was inaugurated in February 24, 1952 it was used as a high school building until 2004, when the college decided to relocate the high school to San Beda- Rizal so that the can transfer the College of Medicine to a much bigger and better building. Even though it was built in the 1950's the building still incorporated some art deco styles especially the classrooms and the stairs. In front of the building there is a marker that pays homage and respect to the Bedan boys who have while they were on their way to the 11th World Jamboree camping in Greece (1963).

I could share a lot of things you may or may not know about San Beda and if you have some this far in reading, I applaud you. But I could honestly say that I could go on and on about this forever, because San Beda is a place that I will never forget.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

I can still remember the first time I visited the chapel of San Beda College, and I think it was late Febuary this year before the graduation of my sister. I was surprised it was open at 1:00 because usually it is only open at 6am. To cut the story short I entered and I was  blown away with the beauty and the detailing of the chapel. It is one of the best churches i have ever seen next to its neighboring church, the San Sebastian Church. 

I am usually impressed at everything, I am easy to impress (that's why I think I cannot be a judge in American Idol) as long as it is historical and still standing. The mural is well preserved and everything is in place. When I was about to shoot inside the chapel, I saw the casket of the guy who was a victim of hazing from the College of Law. I can still remember the news, I feel sorry for the mom and the family. May he rest in peace. 

The neo-gothic Abbey of Monserrat is located in Mendiola Manila. It was built by a Swedish architect George Asp in 1904. The church was devoted to Sto. Nino de Prague which was carved in 1905 by Maximo Vicente and was installed in the altar after it was consecrated in 1926. 

The paintings that can be seen everywhere in the abbey were done by a Spanish monk, Fr. Lesmes Lopez OSB has done a lot of murals for monasteries in Spain and Australia. The Abbey of Our Lady of Monserrat is one of the few churches that survived the liberation.

I asked my sister about The Abbey of Monserrat because It is her school and she said that the abbey is almost always empty –except when it is exam week or “Hell Week”. Students, seek comfort in the Abbey hoping that God would help them survive college. 

The Abbey is one of the most beautiful places she has ever seen and she feels like she is in a different world when she is in the abbey.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

San Beda College

 By: Patricia M. Bustamante & 
Paolo M. Bustamante

Leaving San Beda on the 30th of March is like letting go of something familiar. San Beda is not like any other place in the University Belt. Beyond the “Mendiola Peace Arch” is chaos –it is filled with rallyists, demonstrations from various activists groups, noise, pollution, Recto, snatchers and unsafe street foods. However, beneath all the trouble is still a home for Bedans like me. And despite of the imperfections that this place may have, I would not trade it for anything else in the world.

San Beda gives importance to tradition and to the thought of being in a community or a family. Since our population in the Manila campus is quite small compared to other colleges and universities here in The Philippines, we all take the time to get to know one another in a deeper lever than that of an acquaintance. In San Beda it is easy to make friends and to strike up a conversation with someone. I can confidently say that my time in San Beda made 
my world bigger.

The San Beda College was named after Venerable Bede of England and founded in 1901 by the Benedictine Monks as El Colegio de San Beda in Arlegui St. Manila during the American Era. The Benedictine Monks' plan was to go to Surigao for a mission work but they feared the spread of Protestantism in the country   because of the Americans, that's why they ditched Surigao and settled in Manila. The school opened  its doors for young boys (high school and grade school) in June 17, 1901 to 212 students. In 1926, the school transferred to Mendiola so that they can offer the students a better and a bigger campus, they started constructing of the Abbey of our Lady of Monserrat in 1925, the school also expanded its courses by introducing 2-year pre-med and law courses. They are also one of the founding schools to form the NCCA in 1924 together with NU, Ateneo, DLSU, UST and more. But as San Beda was trying to establish itself as an institution WWII broke-out in 1940 and the Japaneese used the campus as their concentration camp but classes were still on-going in the Abbey of Our Lady of Monserrat. After the war the school introduced the College of Law in  1948. In recent years, the school introduced the College of Medicine, College of Nursing and other Business courses that lead to the transferring of the high school and grade school to San Beda Rizal.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Casa Barsobia

 By: Paolo M. Bustamante

I have been featuring beautiful art deco and art nouveau buildings in Manila since the start of my blog.  And I think it is time to feature some heritage houses in Manila,   I think I need to go further back in time and embrace the 19th century-old houses in Manila. These 19th century-old houses are everywhere especially in Rizal Avenue, Malacanang compound and in Mendiola (near San Beda) but sadly some of the old houses that are scattered in Manila are vanishing right before our eyes to make way for condominiums, apartments and parking lots. It is time to feature these houses before they are gone. I decided to do the "Casa Manila Series", showcasing the beautiful ancestral houses here in Manila. Take that Vigan! 

While I was on my way to National University, I saw this beautiful house along G. Tuason. I was able to talk to the caretaker of the house, good thing she was nice and good thing... I brought my camera with me.

According to the caretaker of the house, the Casa Barsobia was built in the early-1900's (she was quite unsure about the date) and is located along G.Tuason St. near the National University it is surrounded by beautiful 19th-century old houses. The person who owns the house is Neofia Barsobia but sadly the Casa Barsobia won't be standing for long because after the death of Neofia Barsobia. According the the caretaker of the house, the owerns of the family are thinking of selling this beautiful prewar structure.

It is more difficult to preserve than to destroy because there are a lot of factors to watch out for in preserverving our built heritage like the weather, earthquakes, tsunamis and or natural calamities and of course everything is temporary. Im guessing that it took this house 2 years to build and it will just take a month to demolish it. 

Quick update 
Just recently, I saw a post on a group on facebook, Manila Nostalgia (A group that celebrates the glory years of manila.) that one of the owners of the Casa Barsoba are having thoughts on having the house listed as a heritage house. Yey for heritage!