Throwback: What famous landmarks in Manila looked like then and now

Travel through time and back again
by Paolo Chua for Esquiremag.ph | Jul 11, 2020
PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

It’s always interesting to see before and after photos. From historic hotels to plazas and parks, we’ve covered just about everything there is to compare between old Manila and right now—except, of course, the most recognizable landmarks we see around the city. Here, we’ve put together with photos of  Rizal Park, Intramuros, and more if you’ve ever wondered what it looked like back then.

Then: Rizal Park

Rizal Monument, Luneta Park, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, 1920s-1930s

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The history of Rizal Park, or Paseo de Luneta as it was known back in the day, goes back to 1820 when it was completed. Through the years, it has become the site of several historic events that have shaped the history of the Philippines.

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Now: Rizal Park

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


Today, the historic urban park is still one of the most recognizable areas in the city of Manila.

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Then: Intramuros

Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, 1908 or before

A stone’s throw away from Rizal Park is Intramuros. The walled city has been through wars, occupations, and more, and the area also contains several more landmarks.

Now: Intramuros

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.


Reconstruction efforts have been made in the walled city, and it has been named a Unesco World Heritage Site.

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Then: Quiapo Church

Quiapo Church

Another old Manila landmark is Quiapo Church. The basilica was founded in 1586 when it was initially built with bamboo and nipa leaves.

Now: Quiapo Church

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.


Through time, the church has been built and ravaged by war to be rebuilt again. The structure was expanded in 1984, with the facade and dome retaining the classic design.

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Then: Binondo

Calle Rosario, Manila, Philippines, 1915

Established in 1594, Binondo is known as the oldest Chinatown in the world. During the start of the 20th century, it had turned into a major banking and financial center.

Now: Binondo

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.


After World War II, Makati replaced Binondo as the new financial center. The district, however, remains a historic and influential one.

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Then: The Manila Hotel

Manila Hotel, Manila, Philippines, undated 1915-1925

The Manila Hotel is the oldest hotel in the Philippines, and as such, it has welcomed several notable personalities in history such as Ernest Hemingway, Michael Jackson, and more.

Now: The Manila Hotel

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.


The latest renovation of the historic hotel began in 2008—just in time for its centennial celebration in 2012.

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Then: Manila Central Post Office

Aug. 10, 1945 Manila, Philippines, War damaged National Post Office Building

Built in 1926, the Manila Post Office was part of Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Manila. The structure was designed neoclassical style, but it was severely damaged during the Battle of Manila.

Now: Manila Central Post Office

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.


After being rebuilt in 1946, the main postal office continued to serve as the home of the Philippine Postal Corporation.

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Then: Divisoria

Divisoria Market, Manila, Philippines, About 1930

It isn’t known when Divisoria was established. But for as long as many Filipinos can remember, the market has been a go-to for low-priced goods and other services.

Now: Divisoria

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


Divisoria has become an important part of the city, even generating millions of pesos for the many vendors.

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NOTE: This article first appeared on Esquiremag.ph. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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