The area outside of Old Manila before the Spaniards came used to be farmland, flanked by water canals because of its close proximity to the Pasig River flowing into the Manila Bay. Among the many water-based plants growing in the region was a variety of cabbage called Pistia statiotes, which the natives called kiapo. As time went on, the areas were reclaimed from the marshes and along with the areas of Binondo, San Nicolas and Ermita, the district of Quiapo was born.
Through the years, Quiapo became home to many notable entities, such as the Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel (beer!), the Spanish Royal Navy Club, and the El Renacimiento of the Katipunan movement. It came to be known as the “downtown of Manila” and here, one also found grand residential houses along the many esteros or waterways that channeled clean water for their gardens as well as provide an efficient mode of transportation via cascos.
In a time when the main modes of transportation were chiefly naval, such geographical feature made Quiapo a suitable site to establish trade and commerce, an open port and an easy entrance to the heart of Luzon.
Quiapo was and is also where one finds two grand churches – Quiapo Church and the Basilica Minore of the Black Nazarene, home to the black Jesus of Nazareth statue revered by millions of Catholics.
One of the best known streets in Quiapo is Hidalgo Street, considered in the 19th century as “the most beautiful street in Manila.” This was where many of the wealthy residents lived (outside of Intramuros) and some of their homes are still there to this day, though one, the Enriquez Mansion which was called “the most beautiful house in the islands” in 1910 was transferred to Bataan and in its place is a 10-story commercial building.
Known as the Home of the Heroes of the 1896 Revolution, the Nakpil-Bautista house was home to Julio Nakpil, musical composer of the 19th century revolutionary movement, the Katipunan and Gregoria de Jesus, organizer of the women’s corps of the Katipunan.
Quiapo not only had the most beautiful street of Manila, it also housed the loveliest park in Manila, the Plaza del Carmen, and the most spacious public market, the Mercado dela Quinta.
Quiapo was also the home to Manila’s early theaters, the only surviving 19th century theater being the Teatro Zorilla, located at the corner of Calle San Pedro and Calle Iris. Also known as Dulaang Zorilla sa Maynila, it was named after Jose Zorilla, Spanish poet and playright.
“The Teatro Zorilla…was built to serve as theatre or circus without any regard to its acoustic properties; hence only one-third of the audience could hear the dialogue. There was a permanent Spanish Comedy Company…and occasionally a troupe of strolling players, a circus, a concert, or an Italian Opera Company came to Manila to entertain the public for a few weeks.”
Quiapo today is a bustling mix of old and new, home to the Black Nazarene and also a large Muslim community in Manila, and is a place to see not just the historic homes (preserved or not), but also experience the food and shopping.
I’ve discovered a few more blogs that interest me during this month of blogging A to Z. We’re almost on the home stretch and one more week, and we should be down to Z! Q was quite a challenge for me, that’s for sure, but as soon as I usually find something to write about, I then have to stop myself from writing a novel!
Anyway, which bloggers have I discovered today so far? Well, quite a few!
If Only I Had A Time Machine
For her A to Z challenge, she tackles historical events and a few of them are my favorites in history – from the Black Plague to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb!
Storey of Stories
Keith talks about the places he’s lived or visited for his A to Z Challenge.
Dianne posts about make believe fairy tale characters for her challenge, another one of my favorite topics!
So there you have the five bloggers participating in the A to Z Challenge who have caught my interest this week! It’s amazing all the places we get to visit, people we get to meet and things we get to learn just from visiting other people’s blogs!
P is for Piña fabric, a filmy fiber stripped from the Red Spanish variety of pineapple grown outside of Old Manila. Piña fabric is well known as a lustrous, transparent cloth made from pineapple leaf fibers, which are stripped off, dried, tied together to form a continuous strand and then woven.
It is painstaking job, and not one to be relegated to machinery, as each strand of piña fiber is hand-scraped and knotted together one by one to produce a continuous strand.
“Handwoven piña cloth embroidered intricately were greatly prized then and believed to have matched, or even surpassed, the most intricate laces or other luxurious handiworks in vogue in Spain and France at the time. Piña cloth was such an important novel cloth material that in 1571, it was used to pay royal tribute or poll tax imposed on the inhabitants.
“Piña cloth weaving reached its peak of perfection in the late 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century. Piña cloth became one of the most sought after handwoven materials because it was a suitable wear to tropical climate and due to its uniqueness and beauty, it offered the most feminine and refined look in an age of elegance and romanticism. Piña cloth then was described as “one of the most beautiful fabrics of Manila . . . only used in the dress of the wealthy, being too costly for common use…”
“Philippine piña was so notable then that items like handkerchiefs, gowns and linens were considered worthy gifts for royalty. In 1862, a piña handkerchief was presented as a wedding gift to Princess Alexandra on the occasion of her marriage to Edward VII by Edward Parr, one of the moving spirits of the Manila British Community. Today, a replica of this can be found in the piña collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Other outstanding gifts to royalty and heads of state were also discovered and were said to be so well-received.
Piña cloth was one of the Manila’s major exports. It was often blended with other indigenous materials like cotton, abaca or silk to produce a soft delicate-looking fabric. When woven with silk it was called piña-silk or piña-seda. Piña fabric even found its way in the Americas, as seen in this 1855 dress made.
Among the most notable uses of the piña cloth is in the national costume, specifically for the baro or blouse which Filipino women wore, and the present-day Barong Tagalog, the national dress shirt of the Filipino male.
The shirt is translucent, silky and often accented with delicate embroidery. It is worn untucked, reminiscent of the way Indios, or the natives were supposed to be dressed during the Spanish colonial period to distinguish them from the Spaniards, mestizos and other non-natives.
Here is a look at how piña cloth is made, all by hand.
For the past week we’ve been eating spaghetti
nothing but good ol’ spaghetti -
all because the man had a craving
and he simply got tired of waiting
for me to get my act together,
and make something that was better
than the usual chicken dishes,
some too exotic they were deemed suspicious.
So while I was at work,
he simply went berserk
and whipped up not one, but three
pots and tubs of spaghetti!
And now we’re all so sick of it.
So back to chicken we commit,
and maybe fish and veggies, too.
Do you like spaghetti?
I’m no longer sure if I do.
Filipinos believe in many superstitions and omens. Whether you’re building a home, are pregnant, celebrating new year’s eve or happen to have a mole somewhere in your body, there’s a superstition for that. If you drop a fork or a spoon on the floor, if someone leaves the table before everyone else is done, or if a ring is present around the moon, there’s an omen for that.
One of the superstitions that I grew up with had to with the stairs in one’s house – the direction you turned to get to the stairs and when you get there, the total number of steps built.
As for stairs, they should always turn right, that being the righteous path. This particular belief applies best to the marital bond. An opposite direction signifies infidelity. Note that the vernacular term kaliwete (left-handed) refers to the wanton spouse. Since we are on the subject of stairs, can steps be far behind?
Among the Tagalogs, stair steps are erected with a ritual that calls for alternate counting to three, using the chant “Oro, plata, mata” (Gold, silver, death) for each count. Of course, the counting commences with the lowest rung. The topmost step should never end with “mata,” that being a symbol of bad luck. On the other hand, “oro,” and “plata” represent good luck.
Here is a sampling of other superstitions and omens prevalent still prevalent in the Philippines:
During the building of a house, an injured worker is a bad omen and to counteract its effects, one must sacrifice a pig or a white chicken and sacrifice its blood to the spirits.
Never pay any debt at night.
Breastfeeding mothers should drink milk if they want to increase their milk production. (So this is where I got this silly belief!)
Don’t sweep the floor at dusk because lizards will fall from the ceiling.
A black butterfly entering a house means that there will be an impending death.
If someone at the table needs to leave before the meal is finished, everyone must turn their plates clockwise so that he will arrive at his destination unharmed.
If a spoon falls to the floor, you will have a female visitor. If it’s a fork, then you’re going to have a male visitor. This begs the question though – what happens when you drop a spork?
A mole on one’s foot means he/she is an adventurer.
A mole above the lip means he/she is lucky in business.
Here’s one that involves a snake in one’s house:
A snake that enters the house brings good luck as long as it doesn’t bite any of the occupants. This is probably based on the practice of Filipinos during the Spanish colonial times to keep pythons in the partition between the roof and the ceiling to reduce the rodent population the house.
As to the practice of keeping snakes in side the house, it really was true, as seen by the Spaniards and the Americans when they occupied Manila in the early 19th century.
“Most of the living is done in the second story while the first or ground floor the Philippino keeps his store or his stable. Upstairs live the house snakes which are to Manila what the dogs are to Constantinople, the unlicensed scavengers of the city. They are quite harmless to mankind, although it takes some time for the stranger to become accustomed to the eight or nine feet of reptile, wriggling after the rats, which are the snakes’ legitimate supply and one of the many pests of Manila. So many and so fierce are these rats that if it were not for the snakes Manila would be overrun by them and would be as uninhabitable as Hamelin.”