History and Culture

Manila's Old District: How Well Do You Know Quiapo?

Metro Manila

Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | Jan 08, 2016
Manila's Old District: How Well Do You Know Quiapo?

Where can you find a church that has a perimeter ironically dotted with fortune tellers selling amulets, charms, and even gayuma?

Or has a swarm of devotees on Fridays, not on Sundays?

Or was the center of protests and demonstrations, especially prior to the declaration of Martial Law?

The answer to all these is Quiapo.

The side of Quiapo Church during the Feast of the Black Nazarene in 2015.
(Photo by Jonathan Cellona via news.abs-cbn.com)

Quiapo, a district of Manila City, derives its name from the water cabbage (Pistia stratiotes) or quiapo or kiapo in the Tagalog language. The district is also sometimes referred to as the "Old Downtown of Manila." During the American period until the late 1970s, it was the hub for Manila's social elites as it is the center for trade, fashion, art, and higher learning. Now, it has become a marketplace for thrift finds. Its street corners have stalls that offer herbal products, an army of fortune tellers, and shops for pirated media.

It is home to the Quiapo Church, officially known as Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene and canonically known as Saint John the Baptist Parish. It is also the site of one of the Philippines' biggest cultural events, the Feast of the Black Nazarene, as millions of devotees from all over the country flock to the district.

Facade of present-day Quiapo Church
(Photo by Constantine Agustin, Flickr CC License 4.0)

Right in front of the church and in the heart of Quiapo is a town square named after Jose Sandino y Miranda. He served as the secretary of the treasury of the Philippines from 1853 to 1863. Sadly, it was a tragic event that made Plaza Miranda significant in our history. During the miting de avance of the Liberal Party on August 21, 1971 in the town square, a bomb explosion killed nine and injured almost 100 civilians.

Plaza Miranda
(Photo from Wikipedia)

Manila's old & historical district has had its share of highs and lows. With the devotion of its residents, it is not surprising that Quiapo thrives despite adversity.


View Related Articles:
1) Then and Now: Quiapo Church Through the Years
The side of Quiapo Church in the 1950s.
(Photo from manilablog.com/old-manila-photos)
2) Manila's Biggest Religious Festival: Schedule and Route of Traslacion 2016
(Photo by Jonathan Cellona via news.abs-cbn.com.)


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