Every now and then we run into interesting blogs that are worth sharing. And one of these is that of “Señor Enrique”, who photographs and writes about Manila. Here’s how he describes his blog: “Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller.”
Like us, the writer-photographer also grew up in Tondo and his reminiscences about the place, like the excerpts we are reprinting below, will definitely strike a chord with all of us.
A walk to Tondo Church
Despite the niche in history that it proudly occupies, as well as being the home to many distinguished families, Tondo, Manila, has always been a subject of place-bashing – that it’s the dangerous, downtrodden underbelly of the city; teeming with crime, vice and disease.
And the fact that many political parties and candidates consider Tondo only in terms of votes, does not do much in terms of helping correct this negative perception. But then again, since Tondo has the densest population in the entire Metro Manila, it’s only logical that this district may have more of everything when it comes to practically anything at all – from good to bad.
Most of my classmates and friends at Bonifacio Elementary School in Tayuman came from Tondo. They were, for the most part, regular kids like me whose parents were hardworking and ambitious; nurturing the usual set of middle class values common to many Manileños.
These thoughts permeated my mind yesterday while some friends and I walked along Moriones Street from Tutuban to the historical Tondo Church. It was my first time to walk the inner streets of Tondo. I was so energized by the experience that as soon as I got home later that evening, I searched online for additional information on this district. The results I found were colorful and fascinating, indeed.
Although renowned for being the most underdeveloped and economically-challenged district of Manila, Tondo is the birthplace of former president Joseph Estrada, singer and actress Regine Velasquez, businessman and politician Manuel Villar, and Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas. Andres Bonifacio was also born here. It was in Tutuban where he conducted the early Katipunan meetings.
The historical Tondo Church serves a great number of devotees, while Plaza Moriones was once considered the best alternative to Quiapo’s Plaza Miranda. As for public education, Torres High was one of the best secondary schools in the nation. Supposedly, it produced eminent graduates who excelled in journalism, literature and public service.
In Tondo was also where Lakan Dula founded his kingdom.
I will try to explore more of Tondo during the coming months, and as always, share my discoveries. I’m confident that much like Binondo, Quiapo and Santa Cruz, I will find many points of interest here (besides its famous Divisoria), as well as meet some of its charming personalities.