Malate – Ermita District: Part 4


I didn’t intend to continue this series but as my kind readers have pointed out, I have missed several major landmarks in that gentle and scholarly neighborhood of the past. These articles have become a two-way street as I am learning and reminiscing right along with you from the many comments, emails and photos I’ve received ! Thank you all !

My family rented apartments until the mid-Fifties when mom finally got her dream of building a new home. They selected a lot in a new suburb of Makati called San Lorenzo, a topic I will discuss in a later post. We moved to our last apartment on Pennsylvania Ave. called the Mayflower Apartments, anxiously waiting for our new home to complete.

Mayflower Apartments

Mayflower Apartments

I was surprised to see it still there when we visited Manila in 2012. I was pleased to see how little it had changed; we lived on the first floor with windows overlooking the street. The parking lot in the back still had that old mango tree that was perfect to climb and naturally pick some green mangos to eat… with salt ! But darn those ants anyway !


Mayflower Apts-backyard

Mayflower Apts-backyard

At any rate, this was the neighborhood I wandered through at the age of about 10, riding the sidewalks on my new balloon-tired one speed bicycle – streamers flying from the handlebar grips – up on the sidewalks, down the streets, under trees that shaded you from the hot sun. Up on Oregon, down Colorado, left on Herran turning on San Marcelino…ah, the freedom of youth !

Maryknoll College
Before they made their move to Quezon City, Maryknoll College was located very close to our apartments. One of my readers is Angelina Gutierrez-Frey who went to Maryknoll in the mid-Fifties. Angelina was kind enough to submit the following photos of the old buildings of Maryknoll.

Maryknoll logoThe story of Maryknoll College goes back to 1926 when the Archbishop of Manila, Rev. Michael O’Doherty, requested the Sisters of Maryknoll Congregation to start a teacher-training program for women in the Philippines. Under the auspices and support of the Archbishop, the Malabon Normal School was established in an old Augustinian convent.

Maryknoll 1927-m

Due to financial difficulties, the Archdiocese could no longer continue to support the school in Malabon. In 1936, The Sisters assumed full financial control and opened their own Maryknoll Normal College in Manila, first on Isaac Peral, and in 1938 moved to Mabini Street. The grade school and high school in Malabon became St. James Academy.

After the war, the Sisters re-opened the school in a private house on Fernando Rein Street and eventually transferred to two Quonset huts to accommodate increasing number of students.

Maryknoll at Pennsylvania and California streets

Maryknoll at Pennsylvania Ave. and California.

Maryknoll Annex-3

Maryknoll Annex-3

Maryknoll 3rd graders-1949

Maryknoll 3rd graders-1949

“There were 4 different uniforms of Maryknoll, all represented in this photo, modeled for the school:  Grade school / High School / College & Faculty.  In 1951, Maryknoll made us model all the uniforms since I was in grade school, one sister in high school, 2 sisters in college, and one Faculty (one of my sisters was already in the Faculty – different uniform for teachers).” Angelina Frey

Maryknoll 1951-uniforms-s

Maryknol - 610 Pennsylvania Ave.

Maryknoll College (1949) – 610 Pennsylvania Ave.

In quick succession, Maryknoll Sisters assumed two other works in Manila. One was St. Mary’s Hall, a hostel (or dormitory) for women, situated on 602 Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from Padre Faura Street where the University of the Philippines was then located.

St. Mary's Hall (click to enlarge)

St. Mary’s Hall (click to enlarge)

Maryknoll Sisters also assumed direction of St. Paul’s Hospital at the corner of Gral. Luna and Anda Streets, Intramuros, which had been begun by Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres. Over the years, almost three hundred Maryknoll Sisters have been assigned to the Philippines.

St. Paul's Hospital - Intramuors

St. Paul’s Hospital – Intramuros

During WW II, the Sisters were held at the Los Baños Internment Camp but the bond between the Filipino faithful and the Sisters remained strong as the Filipinos took risks to share scarce food with them during their confinement. After liberation, the Sisters were invited to leave the country with the withdrawing U.S. troops but declined, wanting to remain with the Filipino people.

Maryknoll Sisters interned at Los Baños Camp-1942

Maryknoll Sisters interned at Los Baños Camp-1942

In 1953, Maryknoll College reopened on a bigger scale in Diliman. In 1977, the ownership and management of the school was turned over to lay administrators and the name Maryknoll was changed to Miriam College acknowledging the role of its past president.

Sister Miriam Thomas

Sister Miriam Thomas

Sister Miriam Thomas was assigned to Maryknoll at Malabon in 1935. She was studying for her doctorate as World War II broke out and she and the other Sisters were interned in the prison camp at Los Baños. Sister Thomas brought along her books and painting materials, and despite the hardships and the weakness she experienced from the starvation diet in the camp, Sister was able to finish writing her doctoral dissertation. She even designed a holy card for others in the camp. Shortly after liberation, and still in poor health from life in the camp, she was able to defend her dissertation and received the highest grade “Meritissimus” from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila in 1945.

The Philippine Government issued a memorandum in 1973 on educational institutions stating that ownership, control of administration, curriculum and enrollment were to be held by Filipinos.  After a total of 18 years as President of Maryknoll College, Sister Miriam Thomas quietly, but happily, withdrew from the position. At that time it was agreed that the name of the College would not be changed immediately. When the change took place ten years later several reasons led to the selection of the name “Miriam College” and one of them was to express gratitude to the person who had devoted herself so much to the school.

St.Theresa’s CollegeSt.Theresa logo
Mother Marie Louise De Meester from Belgium, landed in Ilocos Sur in 1910 and commenced a missionary program throughout the Philippines. She founded St. Theresa’s College Manila (STCM) in 1915 at the invitation of the Most Reverend Jeremiah Jame Harty, the first American Archbishop of Manila. The school was located at 920 San Marcelino Street.

Mother Marie Louise de Meester

Mother Marie Louise de Meester


St.Theresa- 1930s “St. Theresa’s was where many of us who wanted a Business Administration or Commerce training went for college. This was one of St. Theresa’s specialties for girls.” Angelina Frey

It remains a wonder to Executive Judge Vickie Paredes, an alumna of STC Manila, that despite their cumbersome habit and wimple, the sisters always appeared cool and composed even in warm weather. “One would think that they would be lumbering around but, amazingly, they glided along the corridors. The Belgian nuns had peachy complexion and because of the heat, were perpetually rosy-cheeked”, she adds. Source: Angelina Goloy, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Typical of Catholic schools and girls schools in particular, discipline was stressed including academic instruction, religious teaching, character development, even music and the arts.

St. Theresa students of 1972.

Silence, orderliness, courtesy and honesty were corollary rules, violations of which were penalized, while proper behavior was rewarded with merit cards, estampitas and rosaries; many of the traits that, sadly, have somehow lost their significance in today’s generation. A photo of the studious, quiet and reverential students shown at left.St.Theresa Warball game

A fine example of dedication, Sr. Asuncion Martinez came from a rich family in Leyte where her father was once governor. She was born Esther Martinez, joined the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM) as a postulant in 1934, and took her vows and adopted her new name in 1937. She became Sr. Ason to friends and colleagues. From 1937 to 1950 she taught high school and college subjects in congregation-run schools such as the Holy Family Convent, St. Theresa’s College Manila and the Infant Jesus Academy. She was the Belgian-dominated ICM’s first Filipina superior in 1950, and first Filipina provincial councilor from 1959 to 1969. She also served as superior of St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City.


St. Theresa’s College Manila was re-built, re-opened and continued to be run by the Belgian Sisters until 1980. In order to accommodate an ever-growing population of students, steps were taken after WWII to look for a property which would be larger than the San Marcelino Compound.

In January 1946, a contract was signed for the purchase of a property consisting of five blocks, in Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City. January 7, 1947, marked the establishment of STCQC. The school was officially opened in June 1947.

The Saint Therese Building, former site of Saint Theresa’s College, was absorbed into Adamson University. Within its grounds are the Saint Therese Quadrangle, Botanical Garden, Adamson University Chapel and Speech Laboratory. It houses the Vice President for Student Affairs’ Office, College of Education and Liberal Arts, College of Sciences, College of Pharmacy and College of Business Administration.Adamson St Therese Bldg

Adamson University

Adamson logoDr. George Lucas Adamson, a Greek chemist from Athens, founded the school in 1932. George and his brother Alex, rented the Paterno Building next to the Santa Cruz Bridge near Plaza Goiti. It was impressively named the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry and Engineering (ASICE) catering to students who wished to learn the simple fundamentals of chemistry and the basic techniques for small industries like leather tanning, soap making, and salt production. It was later called Adamson University (AdU) upon approval by the Secretary of Public Instruction for university status, on February 5, 1941.

George Athos,Geo Lucas,Alex Adamson-1934The new school, after appropriate advertising, attracted forty students on its opening day. Their goal was to qualify as a private college accredited by the government. By 1934, there were approximately 370 students, which demanded that larger quarters were needed. The move was made to a historic building on Calle General Solano on the Pasig River, which earlier served as a home of the Spanish Navy Admiral, then the U.S. Military Governor Arthur MacArthur. Later called the “Goldenberg Mansion”, it was bought by cosmetics manufacturer Michael Goldenberg and was eventually bought by the Philippine government during the Marcos regime in 1966 and is currently part of the Malacañang complex.

Adamson-Calle Solano-MacArthur res

“We turned into a large courtyard in front of a huge three-storied building made of wood with a curious cupola on top. A bearded and turbaned Sikh opened the door of our car, and I was taken up the stairs, past dozens of students smiling and waving at us, to George’s office. He explained that the Adamson School was in a very historic building. It had once housed the Governor General from Spain, and a Spanish king had slept in it. I learned later that it was the home of General Douglas MacArthur’s father, Brigadier General Arthur MacArthur, when he was Military Governor of the Philippines in 1898.”   Gods, Angels, Pearls & Roses by Sofia Adamson

Adamson-interior-Calle Solano

click to enlarge

The school was quite a family-run operation. George Lucas’s cousin Alexander Athos Adamson came to Adamson shortly after its opening to help the fledgling school. Alexander joined the administration on July 15, 1932, serving at one time or another as Vice President, Treasurer and Registrar. Alexander’s brother George Athos Adamson also came onboard in 1934, becoming the School Dean, Dean of the College of Engineering and professor. Evdoxia Savaides Adamson, wife of George Lucas, started working and teaching in the University in 1939, then served as Dean of the College of Education and of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Sofia Adamson, George Athos’s wife, taught in the College of Education after arriving in 1939 and briefly served as Directress of the Junior Normal College. Except for George Athos and Sofia who left after the war, all the Adamsons remained working in the University until its turnover to the Vincentian Fathers and Brothers of the Congregation of the Mission in 1964. George Lucas Adamson served as President until 1967, for a total of 35 years, including a three-year holdover stint at the assumption of the Vincentians as administrators.

Adamson University

Adamson University

Before finally settling on its permanent home along San Marcelino Street in 1946 after the war, the school stayed in three different locations: Sta. Cruz (1932-1933), San Miguel (1933-1939) and Intramuros (1939-1941). At 900 San Marcelino, the University expanded with the acquisition of the Meralco building in 1968 and the St. Theresa’s College-Manila campus in 1977, both just across the street.

Philippine General Hospital
The American colonial government’s program to improve and expand health services included the construction of hospitals. For the implementation of his plans for Manila and Baguio, Burnham recommended William E. Parsons, a product of Yale, Columbia, and the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts. Parsons served as consulting architect of the Bureau of Public Works from 1905 to 1914.

William E. Parsons, archite

William E. Parsons, architect

An outstanding example of Parsons’ approach to design is the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), a building neoclassic in its disciplined elegance and highly practical in its loose and airy arrangement of pavilions.

A front pavilion housing the administration, leads to a central area where common facilities are located and from both sides of which pavilions branch out separated by courtyards and connected by arcaded galleries. Each pavilion houses a department: medical, surgical, orthopedic, and maternity. One pavilion is devoted to private rooms.  The building is formal and symmetrical, the plan being somewhat like an organizational chart. The design is most appropriate for the tropics, since each wing is designed for maximum ventilation and protection from rain. In the PGH, Parsons introduced a style of modern architecture, functional in plan, and employing the traditional arch while minimizing surface ornament.

PGH Manila 1930s

Tomas Mapua, Architect

Tomas Mapua, Architect

Tomas Mapua, who graduated from Cornell University in 1911 and worked as draftsman at the Bureau of Public Works from that year until 1915, designed the Nurses’ Home of the PGH, one of the finest examples of the neo-renaissance style in the country.

PGH-Dean Worcester founder

Passengers Dean Worcester (left) and Don Pedro Sanz (right)

The hospital was founded by Dean C. Worcester, (1866 – 1924) an American zoologist, public official, and authority on the Philippines, born at Thetford, Vermont, and educated at the University of Michigan (A.B., 1889). From 1899 to 1901 he was a member of the United States Philippine Commission and then until 1913, he served as secretary of the interior for the Philippine Insular Government. Worcester founded the Philippine General Hospital in 1910.

I was fortunate to have one of my readers, Dick Scheerer write about his grandfather, Otto Scheerer. “Worcester and my grandfather had a curious relationship. Worcester was an avid colonialist and my grandfather was active in the independence movement. And yet, despite this, Worcester had my grandfather appointed to several positions in the colonial government, including making him Governor of Batanes. Attached is a photo of my grandfather with Worcester, Gov. Luke Wright and sundry other Americans taken at my grandfather’s house in Baguio, 1901.”

Otto Scheerer & Dean Worcester in Baguio-1901 (photo courtesy Dick Scheerer)

Otto Scheerer & Dean Worcester in Baguio-1901 (photo courtesy Dick Scheerer)

Old Civil Hospital (click to enlarge)

Old Civil Hospital (click to enlarge)

Initially called Civil Hospital housed in a large private dwelling adjoined by 2 smaller buildings, PGH is now a state-owned hospital operated by the University of the Philippines and is the biggest hospital in the country with 1,500 bed capacity; 1000 beds allotted for indigent patients and 500 beds for private patients. PGH is generally known as the hospital for indigent patients.

PGH Ambulance - 1927 Packard

PGH Ambulance – 1927 Packard

“I guess you must have known my uncle, Dr. Luis F. Torres, Jr., Urologist, who was chief Surgeon of PGH and one of the first graduates of UP College of Medicine in 1937-38.  He was also Founder of the Upsilon Fraternity.  He had his clinic on Taft Avenue beside Dairy Queen.” – Horacio Torres, Manila Nostalgia reader

Phi Kappa Mu founding members - 1933

Phi Kappa Mu founding members – 1933

Update: 8/24/2013 – I received a correction from another reader stating Dr. Luis Torres, considered the “Founder of Modern Urology in the Philippines” was also founder of the first medical fraternity of the country, Phi Kappa Mu, not Upsilon. The name Phi Kappa Mu was conceived by Luis Torres Jr. who along with Jose Barcelona were among the first Filipino members of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. The constitution and by-laws were created through the efforts of Leopoldo Vergel de Dios. The fraternity song was composed by Cesar Villafuerte and Herminio Velarde, Jr. in 1939.

“Dr. Luis Torres, Jr (Chitong) was my doctor and I’m proud to boast, also a good friend of mine.  He was very humble and soft spoken,  and his small simple clinic was located in the front room of his home in Ermita.  (His wife Purita Villanueva, was also a doctor.)   I believe it was to minimize his expenses so that he could provide inexpensive medical service to low income patients.  He was truly a very dedicated  physician to his profession. who I understand never refused anyone medical care.   We certainly could use more doctors of his caliber and integrity here in our country that’s for sure.” Herb Hendry, retired CEO- ITT Globe-Mackay Communications, Manila

Interior PG Hospital Interior_Philippine_General_Hospital

Another reader, Ben Oteyza recalls, “The Brown Derby, in front of PGH, was the place to be for students of UP Medicine and PGH nurses, and Jai Alai for those with extra pocket money.” Ben later married a PGH nurse and are proud parents of 6 grown children. His comment reminded me of those marvelous foot-long hotdogs served with a special extra tart mustard and hot, crispy bun at the Brown Derby; a young boy’s dream, and who can forget the vanilla soft ice cream sundaes you could get at the Dairy Queen on Taft Avenue….chocolate sauce and chopped nuts ! Oh boy !

The Philippine General Hospital was a public hospital but regardless was fortified by the Japanese during the occupation in violation of the Geneva Convention. There were few Japanese in the hospital with gun placements on the grounds outside to defend their position as the Americans were taking back Manila. On the roof on both ends, were large white circles with large red crosses.  From Feb. 14 to Feb. 17, 1945 the Americans shelled the area. Some of the shells hit the buildings inflicting some damage however inside, the many Filipino patients and several thousand Filipino refugees that were seeking what they thought would be safe shelter, were murdered by the Japanese.

Gen. Yamashita at his trial was accused of, “Fortifying and installing military objectives on the premises of a civilian hospital with consequent killing of patients and refugees by shell fire at Philippine General Hospital, Manila, from 1 January to 17 February 1945.” Source: transcript of Gen. Yamashita trial Aug 1945 – Brig.Gen. Courtney Whitney

Philippine General Hospital showing roof damage-1945

Philippine General Hospital showing roof damage-1945

Philippine Women’s University – Larry Ng
PWU logo

Francisca Benitez

Francisca Tirona Benitez

On June 9, 1919, what would eventually be PWU opened its first classes as the Philippine Women’s College in Manila. The vision of seven far-sighted Filipino women – Clara Aragon, Concepcion Aragon, Francisca Tirona Benitez, Paz Marquez Benitez, Carolina Ocampo Palma, Mercedes Rivera and Socorro Maraquez Zaballero – the nascent private, non-sectarian university had an initial enrollment of 190 students. The goal was to prepare young Filipino women for a career of service and leadership.

PWU became a university in 1932 and is presently moving toward its centenary in 2020. It has coped with many hardships and tragedies, including being burned and razed to the ground during the battle for Manila in 1945. But phoenix-like, PWU rose from the ashes, grew and flourished even more vigorously determined to continue to develop the youth of the land.

PWU-Dance Bluette-1960

PWU-Dance Bluette-1960

Currently serving both men and women from nursery to graduate school in its Manila, Quezon City, Caliraya, and Davao campuses, the Philippine Women’s University system and its Affiliate Schools for Men and Women is a corporate entrepreneurial university that uses Internet-driven, online tools for teaching and learning.


Its Malate campus at 1743 Taft Avenue occupies an entire city block bounded by Taft Avenue and the streets of Tennessee (Malvar), Remedios, and Pennsylvania (Leon Guinto). Its current president is Dr. Jose Francisco Benitez, who leads an academic staff of approximately 500 serving an undergraduate student population of 20,000.

Among the outstanding achievements of PWU was the foundation of the Bayanihan Folk Dance Group in 1956 by Dr. Helena Z. Benitez, the university’s first alumna president. Acclaimed now as the Philippine National Dance Company, the Bayanihan is world-renowned and multi-awarded. It has performed, usually by invitation of the host nation, in a total of 66 countries and 700 cities worldwide.

Herb Hendry

Herb Hendry

The following photos of the Bayanihan Dance Troupe were generously submitted by Manila Nostalgia reader, Herb Hendry. The troupe was performing for visiting President of Rotary International (worldwide), Carl P. Miller and his wife, hosted by the Rotary Club of Manila, at a gala fiesta at Perez Gardens, Quezon City on December 2, 1964.

Herb lived in Manila during the Fifties and Sixties. He ran three companies in the Philippines in the early 1960s until they merged and he was named Executive VP and General Manager of ITT Globe Mackay  Cable & Radio Corp.  In addition,  he was an active member  of Manila Rotary, Manila Polo Club, Manila Press Club, American Association, VP of American Chamber of Commerce of Philippines, and made time to serve on the boards of several Philippine charitable and community service organizations. Quite a busy schedule but as he said, “We were no millionaire CEOs in those days either.  Our reward was mainly enjoyment of our work and I especially enjoyed mine in the Philippines and the people I worked with.”

Bayanihan Dance Troupe- 1964

Bayanihan Dance Troupe- 1964

The folk arts center and the dance company continue to research and preserve indigenous Philippine art forms in music, dance, costumes and folklore, to restructure and enhance these research findings to evolve repertoires suited to the demands of contemporary theater, and to promote international goodwill through performances at home and abroad. Bayanihan epitomizes their combined efforts, the name means working together for the common good.


Bayanihan Dance Troupe – 1964 (click to enlarge)


My brother Bobby Ng was one of the lecturers of Philippine Women’s University. After his radio-TV work, he became a professional motivational speaker and taught a personal development course at the university.


PWU today

The stretch of sidewalk in front of the PWU is very familiar to me. It was here where I would walk daily with my father as he recovered from his years of brutal imprisonment, after release by the dreaded Japanese military police Kempeitai in the war. We only stopped our walks when the Japanese marines set up a large anti-aircraft gun on the rotunda of Taft and San Andres.

Our walks usually turned around at Remedios Street, where across Taft I could see the Roces house. This was where Rafael “Liling” Roces Jr. lived. He was a Filipino journalist, writer, patriot, guerrilla leader, martyr and hero.

Another historic location was the Masonic Temple (now the Scottish Rite Temple) across the street from the PWU. It was here that the Japanese massacred almost 200 people that had sought shelter in the battle for Manila in 1945. In the photo below, Philippine Women’s University is center right and Masonic Temple just above it. The road on the left is Colorado St. (Felipe Agoncillo) and the street to the right is Pennsylvania St. (Leon Guinto). This is looking south. Most of the destruction shown in this photograph was caused by the burning and demolition charges set off by the retreating Japanese.

Aerial view of Ermita. PWU and the Masonic Temple-1945

Aerial view of Ermita. PWU and the Masonic Temple-1945

doreen gamboa

Doreen Barber Gamboa – 1970

Jose Abad Santo Memorial School (JASMS)
No description of PWU would be complete without mentioning Jose Abad Santos Memorial School. The seeds from which JASMS grew were planted in 1919 when the Philippine Women’s College was first established with its first Kindergarten class opening in A. Flores St. near Taft Avenue, Manila.

The PWU Elementary Department’s use of a curriculum based on the children’s experiences began in 1933. Doreen B. Gamboa and Priscilla Abaya built an environment to meet the needs of children without having to pattern or adopt a philosophy from other schools or countries. In 1935, the Nursery school was born admitting children 18 months to 3 years of age, this was something unheard of at that time. Since the school accepted both boys and girls, it was decided to give the school a new name. Thus, the PWU Elementary Department later came to be known as Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS), after the late Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University.

The Kindergarten School eventually expanded into a grade school and in the late 50’s the University opened JASMS along what is now known as EDSA to serve the needs of the growing community of Philamlife Homes and in 1962. The JASMS High School at Quezon City opened. JASMS Manila acquired a new site along Indiana St. (P. H. Lim) in Malate, but still maintained the (Annex) Taft Avenue facilities for the younger children.

I recommend reading this article by Joy Gamboa Virata.

La Solidaridad – by Larry Ng
It’s a small shop, a treasure house of hard to find books, plays, political novels, monographs, Filipiñiana, and the complete works of our National Artist for Literature, F. Sionil Jose. When you walk into the store, it’s like a step into the past.

La Solidaridad Bookshop

La Solidaridad Bookshop

It’s just like before the war, when the districts of Ermita and Malate where I lived and spent my childhood hosted numerous boutique shops, quaint bakeries, modistas, and small mom and pop shops. The mansions had Spanish names like Casa Tesoro,  El Nido, and our neighbor on M. H. del Pilar, the Zobel-owned Chateau Marie. The neighborhood even developed its own Spanish patois, signs like “Cuidado con el perro” were common.
This store doesn’t accept credit cards. Just like before the war, when there were no credit cards and no need for them. The store is owned by my friend Frankie Sionil Jose. I had thought he’d migrated to New York when I last checked on him, but no, he’s still here, a true survivor.


To me it seems that Sionil Jose’s novel “Ermita,” the tale of a female protagonist with the same name who was born in the affluence and privilege of the Ermita before the war, is an allegorical story of Ermitans who survived the wholesale destruction of their enclave, but not the love-hate relationship of Filipinos and Americans that it engendered.

In his memoir, F. Sionil Jose expresses this ambiguity and calls it a “loss of innocence.” He relates that as a young man who returned to Manila after the battle, he “walked around the ravaged city, compelled to see the length and breadth of the destruction, of what happened to the landmarks, the vaunted edifices that I knew. I had passed some of the gutted towns where battles were fought but not this, not this. I met people looking for their loved ones, their ruined homes; disbelief on their faces. All over the plundered landscape, the stench of carrion hung heavy as the cleaning up, the picking up of pieces had yet to be completed. Jose wept as he sat on the rocks of the Luneta in the dying rays of the sunset, remembering the words of Gen. MacArthur . “Returning to the devastated city, he had commented on the courage and stoicism of survivors, that he did not see a single teary face.”

Yet, like the protagonist of his novel, the story bears a hint of hope. Perhaps it’s this hope that led my old friend to set up his bookshop in Ermita, at the corner of Jorge Bocobo (formerly Nebraska) and Padre Faura. Like its namesake, La Solidaridad is not just a collection of libertarian ideas in the field of politics, science, art, literature, commerce, agriculture and industry. Established in 1965, it is more than a link to the past, a repository of Filipino aspirations. It’s a hope for the Filipino future.La Solidaridad-interior
Whether one agrees with him or not, the 88-year old speaks his mind. He views the writer’s role as a prophet for the future because of his links to the past. He brings to our collective awareness the things we have forgotten, in particular the First EDSA.   “To help make this country, to shape this country, into a nation—and you can only do that if people have memory.”
He adds, “The past can be meaningful when, with memory, we realize our failings and the possibilities that we missed. Manila in the Thirties had less than a million people — with slums, for sure, and people who were hungry, too. But in hindsight, our leaders should have had vision to face the urban blight, the moral malaise that loomed so clearly ahead. They didn’t.”

It’s an indictment we’re doomed to repeat if we continue to ignore our past.


In my last post, I presented the home of Jose McMicking, at one time Manila’s Sheriff in the early 1900s. Jose married one of Rafael Ynchausti’s daughters, Angelina. The JJ Ynchausti y Compañia, a shipping and trading company dated back to 1816. The family founded Banco Español-Filipinas de Isabel II which later became the Bank of the Philippines. They were also responsible for building the Puente Colgante, owned Tanduay Distillery as well as sugar, abaca production, and paint (YCO Paints and Floor Wax) businesses. By the late 19th century, Ynchausti Shipping was the largest inter-island shipping company in the Philippines. Here’s their home located on Calle Real (later M.H. del Pilar). Their back yard faced the Manila Bay.

Ynchausti Mansion-Calle Real(M.H. del Pilar)

Ynchausti Mansion – Calle Real (M.H. del Pilar)

Ynchausti Mansion-stairway

Ynchausti Mansion-stairway (click to enlarge)

Ynchausti mansion-interior

Ynchausti mansion-interior (click to enlarge)







In my previous post, Malate – Ermita: Part 1, I reminisced briefly about the fun and excitement as families would take their children on an open-aired double-decker bus called the Matorco up and down the boulevard. Just recently I received an email from Fred Palanca Abo-Hamda, the grandson of Sebastian Palanca.

Sebastian Palanca

Sebastian Palanca

Sebastian Palanca, was the second son of Don Carlos Palanca, founder of La Tondeña Distillery, and the brainchild of the Manila Motor Coach (Matorco).  Sebastian initially invested in two buses from London back in 1948 and formed his own corporation under S.C. Palanca & Sons.

Matorco by La Tondeña

Matorco by La Tondeña

This wonderful conveyance would wind its way from 13th and Chicago Streets in the Port Area all along Dewey Boulevard up to the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran and back again. Unlike jeepneys that would stop anywhere, the buses would make around 6 stops at designated locations each way, such as in front of the Aristocrat Restaurant. Refreshments, candies, chocolates peanuts and kropek were sold onboard.

Matorco in the 1970s

Matorco in the 1970s

In 1975, the rates were set at 20 Centavos per passenger and children less than 1 meter height were admitted free. It stopped operation in 1994 due mainly to increased pollution, overcrowded streets and high maintenance. A big thanks to Fred for the details of our beloved Matorco. In the Fifties, the company was run by Joaquina Palanca Abou-Hamda and her siblings (see photo below).

With thanks for the wonderful comments and stories from my readers and guest writers, as well as their generous submittals of photos from their personal collections, I sign off. I am heartened by the actions of many groups in Manila that are trying to save and restore our architectural landmarks. My hope is that we can once again reclaim the beauty of the old Manila we remembered and pass it on to the next generations.

Thanks to Larry Ng for his continuing articles !    Larry Ng-thumb

I’m well on my way to preparing my next post. I hope you enjoy this one and continue to write comments and emails with your memories and hopefully, more photos !!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Malate – Ermita District: Part 4

  1. You must really have a very soft & gentle heart, Lou, to add a Part 4 of Manila Nostalgia, after popular demand – listening to those who implored for “4 or more !”
    By now you are well aware of the thousands who were so enthralled by your Parts 1, 2 & 3, and clamored for more. You’re so brave to take on this challenge, not only for gathering the old photos, but taking pains to include the background history on each and every one.

    On behalf of my Maryknoll gradeschool and high school classmates and St. Theresa’s College schoolmates, please accept our sincere thanks for including school photos extracted from my scrapbook, bringing back memories from as far back 1949 when we were still in Grade Three. The Maryknoll nuns will be forever grateful for your detailed research on their history in the Philippines, as early as 1926. Some of those Maryknoll Sisters you featured in the photos have now gone to Heaven and probably reading Lou Gopal’s blog “from the clouds” (literally !). Aside from their founding one of the best private Catholic girls’ schools in Manila, the Sisters simultaneously continued their tireless and dedicated work in the missions around the Philippine provinces and destitute regions of Asia, Africa, South & Central America. They have inspired many of the students to enter the convent and work in missions in Africa. I have two High School class mates who are Maryknoll Sisters – Sister Maxima Rosanne Ong in Dar Es Salaam Maryknoll Missions and Sister Azucena (Ceny) San Pedro in Brazil. One of my employees at Alpha Tours & Travel in San Francisco – Coralis Obligacion-Salvador is a Lay Missionary in Africa working with children born with Aids. Please accept sincere gratitude from the Maryknoll Sisters around the world, who have been provided with your MANILA NOSTALGIA.
    Angelina (Angie) Gutierrez-Frey
    Maryknoll College H.S. ‘57

  2. litoligon says:

    Thanks for the wonderful insights about the wonderful district we both grew up in even if its of different era. I like your take on La Solidaridad. I often check out the place when Im in the area. I often find first edition books or newly published ones long before they hit the market. I found two outstanding books there regarding world war ii that usually recommend. By sword and Fire and Warsaw of Asia. Very informative books about war and liberation here in Manila based on written document.

  3. Erlinda E. Panlilio says:

    I beg your pardon. St. Theresa’s College Manila was rebuilt after the war for that’s where I graduated from high school in 1955. Afterwards, STCM was sold to Adamson.

  4. lougopal says:

    Thank you for spotting my error, Erlinda. I have corrected the article accordingly.

  5. Lou – As per Dada Zamora-Moreno’s observation, you are a GOOD STORY-TELLER.
    However, because of the info you generated from others, some could mistake you for a “historian” but we need to let them all know that you have endeavored to gather as many facts from friends residing in Manila, interviews, and internet, to “tell us a nostalgic story”. No one should be pounding on you if you make a few mis-quotes from others, re: dates/years/locations. Since you are not really a resident of the Philippines, and depended on other facts contributed by your many friends in Manila willing to assist you in these wonderful recollections of your early years in Manila. I know you have been very cautious, sending me photos to verify and other Theresian colleagues like Cielo Roque-Lutz, Susie Diez-Rueda and our STAA contact “Eslee” – who were so quick in giving you their verifications. You have earned the title of a “good story teller” and we all look forward to hearing more.
    Angie Gutierrez-Frey

  6. litoligonalonb says:

    You have consolidated stories that most could only dream of. That alone is a feat. For that I thank you. Imagine weaving together stories of districts that have disappeared altogether in time. A notable act indeed. Thanks for that and in memory of my grandmother who is loyal alumna of Philippine Women’s University, I thank you too. She has told me of many stories about life in PWU. Thanks again, Lou!

  7. lougopal says:

    Thank you Lito for your kindness and continuing help to make this series interesting !

  8. Guido Advincula says:

    Hello Lou,
    Very happy to see the Sisters of St. Theresa included. The Sisters of St. Theresa administered Malate Catholic School when I was a student there. I remember Mother Barat, Mother Verene, and Mother Eleanora – strict disciplinarians as I recall. The school was also administered by the Irish Columbans who were the parish priests of Malate Catholic Church.
    Incidentally, I remember listening to Larry Ng’s radio program. If I’m not mistaken, Larry was oft known as “Larry ng buhay ko”. And of course there was Bobby Ng’s “music dedication” radio program.
    Thanks again Lou,


  9. Thank you for publishing such historical facts. I left in 1972 and this provides me a very useful tool to show my children and their children my roots as it was during my time growing up. It is exhilarating to hear old places, old names, and reconnect to what it once was to better understand the changes and enable people like me to reconnect. Thanks for the pictures which speaks a thousand words. #schools #Maryknoll #St. Paul #Miriam

  10. Jojo Castillo says:

    Wonderful website!

    Some corrections re Mr. Horacio Torres’ comments:
    Dr. Luis Torres Jr, Father of Modern Urology in the Philippines graduated in 1934. He was a founder of the first medical fraternity of the country, Phi Kappa Mu and not Upsilon. He did become the Chief of Surgery and was a founder and first president of the Philippine Urological Association.

    More power!

  11. lougopal says:

    Jojo, Thank you for that correction !

  12. Jeanne Jacob says:

    Hi Lou,
    Another heartwarming account! Sincerest thanks for all your painstaking efforts to make the old, genteel Manila — its buildings, its people, its ambiance — come alive for us. Would that it were possible to restore that quality to it today, or at least to some portions of it. Please know that your dedication to this project is very much deeply appreciated. More power and all the best!

  13. lougopal says:

    Thank you Jeanne, I’m glad you found the article interesting. It’s because of folks like you that keep the interest in old Manila alive. Let’s not abandon all hope of getting our heritage restored and revitalized.

  14. lougopal says:

    Thank you Angie. I hope I can continue to earn your interest and trust with my blog.

  15. Loy C. Rayos says:

    Good morning Mr. Lito Ligon, Please pardon my situation. I would like to ask if you know or have any information about locating the remains of people killed by the Japanese during World War II? The last we heard was my father being hauled out of a dungeon in Intramuros. We never recovered his body and I am the only one left from our original 5 in the family. I will surely die in peace if I can touch my father’s remain. I am 75 yrs.old now. Thank you very much for any information you may provide. By the way, I have a “gang” mate during my high school years in Laguna High School. His name is Roly Ligon. Are you related? Thanks.

  16. Loy C. Rayos says:

    My apologies for using your site for a personal request with Mr. Lito Ligon.

  17. lougopal says:

    No problem Mr.Rayos. I hope you can find information about your father. Best of luck and good wishes !

  18. Gilligan says:

    Thanks again, Mr. Gopal, for this wonderful series of stories featuring Malate. Though I’m not very familiar with most of the places you mentioned, as I grew up in Quezon City, I’d have to say that I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more of your stories. Thanks again and all the best!

  19. Cynthia Santiago says:

    Dear Mr. Rayos:

    I was in Manila last year and I took pictures of two markers in Intramuros honoring those who died in the dungeons during World War II. One of them reads:


    On this site lie the mortal remains of approximately 600 Filipinos. Their bodies were found inside a nearby dungeon where victims of the atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese imperial forces were imprisoned during the last days of February 1945.

    The memory of all these unknown victims of Japanese atrocities will live forever in the hearts and minds of the Filipino people.


    Although it says they’re unknown, I hope that somewhere, there’s a document that lists the names. Please let me know if you would like me to email you the pictures.

    Cynthia Santiago

  20. Vicente Legarda says:

    Thanks Mr. Gopal for this wonderful interesting series about Ermita. I grew up in Mabini st. way back in the 50’s. My mother owned a dress shop and a gift shop. Two years ago we went home to visit but was so disappointed to see how this place looks now. I used to ride my bike on the sidewalks to the park across Ermita Church where i used to serve mass. I remember the Spanish Capuchin Priest and the “Bota Flores” celebration of the feast of Nuestra Senora De Guia in December. Anyway, my wife and i am enjoying reading your article “Manila Nostalgia”. Looking forward to see more of your articles about Manila. Thank you!

  21. frank sityar says:

    Hi Lou,
    I am presently in Manila. This wonderful trove of memories, i.e. 1,2,3, 4 “plus” proves and continues to be quite a source of visions of the wonderful past as it relates to the present state of things. Unfortunately some are sad ones, e.g. the Jai Alai Bldg, the decrepit state of the neighborhood of your former haunts, etc…. and, Holy Underwear. the T-R-A-F-F-I-C mess. Aristocrat and Max, among a few others keep me from sliding into the pit of depression. I have decided not to visit Escolta for obvious reasons.

    Anyway, I believe that the “Maryknoll College” in Malabon was named St James Academy. My wife, who graduated HS from that institution would be very interested in its history. It is also my understanding that the Maryknoll Order (Dominican- Order of Preachers) has ceased to exist- at least in the PH. I hope someone out there will provide enlightenment.

    I also wish that someone out there has vivid memories of significance in the “other” streets in the Binondo area. Among them would be Dasmarinas, T. Pinpin, Gandara, Florentino Torres and while we are at it a place that would relive seminal moments in our lives-The Astor Theatre.

    Manila Nostalgia. What an excellent reference/guide. Salamat.


  22. Melinda Fernandez says:

    Since some old schools were featured here, I wonder why the OLDEST school in the Philippines, Santa Isabel College, founded in 1632 was left out? It’s rich history dating back during the Spanish colonization of the country will surely fascinate your readers.

  23. lougopal says:

    Ah, I sense an alumni of Sta. Isabela. Please be assured it has not been intentionally left out. There are others also on the list. I look forward to writing about it in an upcoming article. Thank you for your suggestion !

  24. Bobby Fabros says:

    Hi Lou,
    I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your various posts. Thank you so much for the sentimental walks down memory lane. Both my parents’ families lived in the Malate area before the war and I have a high school picture of my mom at Assumption Convent. After the war, my paternal grandparents built a house on Colorado (now Felipe Agoncillo), which I fondly remember visiting often while growing up in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Again, many thanks for sharing. I look forward to more nostalgia. Please keep them coming.
    All the best,
    Bobby Fabros

  25. Marcos Perez III says:

    Hi Lou,

    This is a very nice website. Manila was really fascinating back then. The names of the streets alone especially in Malate & Ermita, already contain so much history. It is sad that we now rename them after businessmen and politicians.

    I would also like to correct that Dr. Luis Torres founded the Second medical fraternity in the country as well as second in Asia. They were a couple of months behind Mu Sigma Phi from the same college which is recognized as the first medical fraternity in the country & in Asia.

    Keep on posting! Thank you

  26. lougopal says:

    Duly noted and thank you Marcos !

  27. Patrick John B. Tabar says:

    Hi Lou,

    I really like the information and nostalgic pictures that you are sharing on your blog. Now, I just want to ask you if you are familiar with the residence of the Perez-Rubio? If you do and if you have, can you please post some pictures of their home? I know that some of their family members and a couple of house helps met their tragic death here in the hands of the Japanese.

    Thank you in advance.

  28. Hi Lou.

    What do you know about the origin/history of Capitan Ticong (Street, Malate, Manila.)
    Who is Cap Ticong?

    Thank you.

  29. Hans Hoeflein says:

    When we arrived in 1939 we lived at Georgia corner of Tennessee in 1940 we moved to 1196 M M del Pilar right across from the Apostolic Delegation. Not far from Remedios street My best friend Jaime Ventura must have been one of your neighbors. He and his entire family died at Remedios Hospital. That is where we went when the japos kicked us out of our house. We were the lucky ones as we survived without a scratch. If you have any questions about the area or life from 1939 to 1949 don’t hesitate to ask.Hans Hoeflein

  30. Oliver Nolasco says:

    Any La Sallite from the 50’s and 60’s would know something about this narrow street. That is where we had fistfights after school because during that time, fights were also held “behind the gym” which, if you caught, resulted in suspension from school or parents of the kids involved summoned by the principal. Following day, you will know who was involved (those sporting shiners).

  31. Oliver Nolasco says:

    Any La Sallite from the 50’s and 60’s would know something about this narrow street. That is where we had fistfights after school because during that time, fights were also held “behind the gym” which, if you were caught, resulted in suspension from school or parents of the kids involved summoned by the principal. Following day, you will know who was involved (those sporting shiners).

  32. Ronaldo Adoptante says:

    WOW! That was the most comprehensive story about this genteel piece of Manila that I have ever read…Its as if I’m walking the main and side streets traversing this neighbourhood and listening to the giggling school girls under the noses of those sombre looking what’s expected…..everything has changed after the war…its good you never narrated the gory details and spared the readers the pain of reliving again those painful chapters of the war and its aftermath…..excellent writing and a glorious part of those golden years

  33. lougopal says:

    Thanks Ronaldo. No, there’s no need for me to reiterate the pain and suffering we all know was there in the past. I like to remember the innocence and sweet memories of days long gone. Was it because I was a kid or was it those times ?

  34. Josephine Lorenzo says:

    As a little girl I remember this super gigantic coffee server on top of this building somewhere near Manila City Hall. Being small , it was awesome to look at. I cannot recall if it was a coffee or chocolate ad. Does anyone Remember?

  35. lougopal says:

    Hi Josephine – you are referring to the Cafe Puro coffee pot which was on Taft Ave. closer to the Metropolitan Theater. I tried to send you a photo but your email was returned undelivered. Can you check your email address and make sure it’s correct ? Thanks, Lou Gopal

  36. rick archinas says:

    Hi Lou, your blog here is like a one stop shop. Everything about what I wanted to know and see are all here. Very informative and enlightening for me who is fond of Philippine history. I used to see the fountain known as Carriedo in Quiapo when I was a kid in the mid 50’s. We moved to LA ever since, I wonder what happened to that fountain because I didn’t see it when I visited Quiapo church lately.

  37. gonzalo camacho vara de rey says:

    Soy descendiente de la familia Teus socios fundadores de la casa Inchausti junto a los Elizaldes , vivo en España y he viajado en dos ocasiones a Filipinas y tengo fotos y relatos de la epoca , por si alguien esta interesado .

  38. red says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  39. Roy G says:

    Hi Lou,
    We lived right behind PWU and the street beside it is not Remedios but Vermont St. (Now Julio Nakpil). The houses around there that were demolished were as a result of American carpet bombing of Manila during WWII. My Dad use to tell me stories of how they hid in a trench beside our house under galvanized iron sheets while American soldiers were being shot at by Japanese snipers in PWU. There was also a tunnel from PWU to the Masonic temple used by the Japanese to escape.

  40. Lorenzo says:

    Hi Lou.

    According to the Digital Collections of the University of Wisconsin (as well as sites discussing the Philippine-American War), there are pictures (dated c.1901-1902) of a house and its sala depicting it as used by the United States First Philippine (Schurman) Commission.

    Having a feeling the house certainly to be located in Malate, I checked search sites, ending up here (rifling thru your Malate-Ermita posts), and yes, finally identified the same pictured house.

    Can you confirm that the Ynchausti Mansion is the same house used in the negotiations with Schurman & Aguinaldo’s representatives (incl. Gregorio del Pilar)???

  41. Lorenzo says:

    Hi Lou it’s me.

    I found a site dedicated to the Ynchausti family.
    One section was dedicated to its famous mansion (though the areas covered were limited).

  42. sonny says:

    Rick, the Carriedo Fountain is at one of the corners of Plaza Sta. Cruz. Saw it in Feb, 2014. Cheers!

    Lou, this is my second round-robin on your blog. To say I am enjoying it is an extreme understatement! Mention of Remedios Hospital, where I was born thrills me no end. Thanks again.


  43. Thank you for mentioning JASMS-PWU, a venerable Manila institution for preschool, elementary and high school!

    Though I studied at their Phil-Am, QC school, you made a very precise and vivid description of JASMS Manila. And yes, JASMS Manila is still there, along P. Hildalgo Lim (formerly Indiana). Doreen B. Gamboa is an extraordinary educator; it was she, along with Ms. Abaya, that pioneered the concept of individual instruction in the country. The JASMS way emphasizes creative as well as critical thinking that molds its pupils to instill a strong sense of individual responsibility. You can also say that JASMS people, having grown up in an educational atmosphere that is non-sectarian and ‘dogma-free’ as I best put it, are very creative, critical in thinking, artistic and insightful. The saying goes, they may create headaches, but that’s the JASMS way!

    Again, thanks loads . . . and love to read more of those very vivid stories of nostalgia. I was born and grew up in Manila, until we moved to Makati in 1969. The compound where our family, the Dolors, used to stay, along Taft Avenue just across La Salle Manila and near Jollibee at the corner of Vito Cruz (this used to be where the original Popular Grocery was located) is now part of College of St. Benilde. Yet I still remain a Manila Boy at heart 🙂

Leave a Reply to Vicente Legarda