Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Manila, In the Eyes of Juan Arellano

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Juan  Arellano, a legend in Philippine architecture
I found myself at the National Museum of the Philippines once again, this time with friends from Malaysia and Australia who were touring the City of Manila. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes to closing time so we were not able to explore most of the galleries. One of those we missed was the Arellano Room at the National Art Gallery. It's  dedicated to painter and architect Juan M. Arellano who's renowned for creating the zoning plan of the city of the Manila as well as the design of the Metropolitan Theater and the old Legislative Building (now the National Museum), among others.  

News clips on Filipino Architect Juan Arellano

Zoning Plan of the City of Manila
What I liked about the Arellano Room was the opportunity to see the City of Manila from the eyes of a legend in Philippine architecture. I'm no genius in architecture and urban planning but I must say his zoning plan was really impressive. His architectural designs reflected not only the popular designs of the period  but also incorporated elements of the tropics. Manila, in Arellano's eyes, was truly a Queen of the Pacific. Here's a video of how the city of Manila looked like in the 1930s, before much of the city was destroyed during the Battle for the Liberation of Manila in 1945. Included in the video is the original design of the Jones Bridge (also by Juan Arellano), the Manila Tranvia, and the old Intramuros.

Today, the city of Manila remains full of potential, and while others see the city as very chaotic, there's beauty in the chaos. I think  Carlos Celdran  described the Philippine capital best when he wrote that Manila is "a city of extreme contrasts...If you don't find beauty and poetry here, you will never find it anywhere." 

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Rizal Heritage Sites in Manila



  1. Love this room too. Plus the Lunas. In fact, I'm itching to head back. Thanks, Rain, for this timely (as in) and well-written blog.

  2. Thanks a lot! I love visiting the National Art Gallery and writing about it is my own way of promoting greater appreciation of our city and our heritage.


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