Malate, Manila

We have just finished exploring the district of Ermita so Pabz and I decided to move on to the next district, the district of Malate. It is located in the southern part of the city near the airport, the big malls and some red-light districts. But before its current reputation, the district is home to the wealthiest people in the country up to the 1970s. To make it a lot clearer, here is the brief history of the district.

Malate at the turned of the 20th century

Malate during the Spanish colonial period was an open space with a small fishing village. The name Malate comes from “maalat,” the Filipino word for salty, as this district used to be a seawater swampland. During the Spanish period, the center of activity was the Malate Church, dedicated to Our Lady of Remedies.

In the 1890s, wealthy Binondo folk built summer houses and seaside villas along Calle Real, now named MH Del Pilar Street. 

After the United States of America annexed the islands in 1898 as a consequence of the Spanish–American War, American urban planners envisioned the development of Malate as the newest and trendiest exclusive residential area for American families. 

One Henry Jones, who founded the American Hardware and Plumbing Company, saw the possibilities as early as 1901 and had then bought swamplands in Malate, filling it and subdividing it into small lots. The streets in his subdivision were named after American states. Most of those streets have been renamed now.American expatriates and some of the old Spanish mestizo families populated the district in modern high rise apartments and bungalows.

Malate during WWII

Despite extensive damage after the Second World War, many homes and buildings were still standing. The displaced wealthy families who evacuated their homes during the war returned and re-built their private villas and kept the whole district exclusively residential until the 1970s.

The once exclusive residential areas in western Malate began to transform into a commercial area with some large homes and residential apartments being converted into small hotels, specialty restaurants and cafes.

Post-World War II turned Malate into a bohemian enclave, where many of the country’s famed artists resided, and when the large houses and apartments were then transformed into restaurants and boutique hotels.

In the early ’50s, Malate housed several public and private schools before many moved out to other nearby cities.

Malate Old Houses

The opening of the Manila Zoo and Botanical Garden in 1959 further added to Malate’s growing attractions as it served as one of the educational centers in the country where the viewing public can observe, discover and learn interesting facts about the beauty of Philippine fauna and flora. Sadly, the zoo hasn’t been maintained efficiently and talks of privatizing it has been floating since 2015.

In the 1970s, several important changes took place in Malate. Harrison Park was transformed into the country’s first airconditioned shopping mall, the Harrison Plaza.

Malate Old Houses 2

Established in 1976 by the Martel family, Harrison Plaza has always been known for its great bargains. Built on the same year was the Century Park Hotel, which remains operational today as a 5-star hotel in the metropolis.

A central figure in Malate’s landscape is the Church of Our Lady of Remedies, located along MH del Pilar Street, also known as the Malate Church. The church had a long history of rebuilding and restoration but has remained an integral part of Malate’s landscape.”

Alright, it was not a short of history but still that was the most brief description that can be given to the place. Anyway, we took a cab and got off in front of the Malate Church. The symbol of the district beside the long Roxas Boulevard.

Malate Church

Malate in the 1890s

This section of the city dates back to 1588. The titular patroness of this church is Nuestra Senora de Los Remedios, whose statue was brought from Spain in 1762 and used the church if Malate for protection for their rear-guard in the capture of Manila. This church was greatly damaged by the earthquake of June 3, 1863, and was rebuilt by Rev. Francisco Cuadrado, O.S.A. The parish has been under the successive administration of the Augustinians, the secular clergy, the Redemptorists, and the Columbans.

In memory of the Columban Fathers Patrick Kelly S.S.C., John Henaghan S.S.C., John Lalor, S.S.C., Peter Fallon S.S.C. and Joseph Monaghan, S.S.C. and tens of thousands of Malter parishioners who were victims of the atrocities of the Japanese Imperial Forces and American shelling during the Battle for Manila from February 3 to 17 1945.

Here is a more detailed history of the church according to its official website.


In 1588, in this village known as Malate, the Augustinian friars built a church in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. The stone church and convent, built in 1591, suffered heavily during the earthquake of 1645 and 1863, while both buildings were pulled down in 1667 on orders of Governor General Manrique de Lara, who feared an invasion by the pirate Koxinga. But the Sino corsair died in Formosa or Taiwan just before the invasion, and the church was rebuilt later that year, and during the next three years, with with the use of the same stones and bricks.

Malate Church

When the British landed in Manila in 1762, they made the church their headquarters. Repairs had to be made after the British left the following year. But both church and convent were destroyed beyond repair by the typhoon of June 1868.

The present church was then rebuilt for the third time in its entirety, thanks to the parish priest, Fr. Francisco Cuadrado, who, together with the poor fishermen of his parish, toured the city and nearby provinces to raise the much-needed funds. The upper façade of the church was completed three decades later, from 1894 to 1898.

Nuestra delos Remedios Statue

The Japanese occupation proved disastrous to the church in Malate. Both church and the convent were burned, with just the walls left standing. Fortunately, the Columban fathers rebuilt the roof, the main altar, the dome and the transept around 1950, and in 1978, the interior of the church was painted, the bricks and the stones outside were made to look new. The bell to be found at the entrance of the convent bears this inscription:

“Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Se fundio en 30 de Enero de 1879.”

The façade of the present church of Malate is a “good blending of Muslim and baroque architecture; the solid compact stone structure is enhanced by the cylindrical end buttresses, the few openings and the overall ornateness of the design. The three-story façade integrates with ingenuity the cylindrical end buttresses, hexagonal forms converted into belfries.”

Liwasang Rajah Sulayman

The restoration and beautification of the Rajah Sulayman park is a gift from the City of Manila to give a proper respect to Rajah Sulayman. The last native ruler of Maynilad. When it was still a Muslim Kingdom in the northern tip of the River Pasig. He is consider “The Bravest king of Manila,” and the most important native leader when Martin de Goiti and Juan Salcedo came in 1570. Rajah Sulayman is a true Manileno and Filipino blood.

Hoping that this park will serve as an inspiration to all who visit and gaze at his statue. A memorial of a good, truthful and creative life in the City of Manila. Dedicated on June 24, 2002. In commemoration in the 431st Anniversary of the founding of the City of Manila.

Arsenio Lacson (1912-1982)

Writer, Actor, Athlete, Congressman and the colorful Mayor of Manila

Arsenio Hilario Lacson was born on December 26, 1912, from his childhood he showed intelligence and athletic skills. Actor, a newspaper writer he was the first elected Mayor of Manila and became known as “Manila’s fighting Mayor,” as mayor he hoped for a clean, truthful and best service for the people of Manila.

Throughout his term he planned and made a lot of projects. He renovated the Stockyard and City Slaughterhouse, Boys Town, Girls Home, Youth Reception Center, Manila Zoo, Quiapo Underpass and the Manila General Hospital (now Hospital of Manila.)

Awarded as “Man of the Year” on 1956 by the Manila Rotary Club, Manila Lions Club and Manila Chamber of Commerce as a brave Mayor of Manila in the history of the City of Manila. His colorful political life and public service Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson which he served the city for three terms and died on April 15, 1962.

Engracia Cruz Reyes (1892-1975)

Historical marker

Born in Navotas, Rizal on April 16, 1892 the first in the food industry. Established the Filipino cuisine and Baro’t Saya, and feminism. The first businesswoman who open the Lapu-Lapu Restaurant and served popular Filipino dishes in Marquez de Comillas in Manila in 1928. Followed by a traveling store which was called “Aristocrat,” in 1936. Finally, she created the “Aristocrat Restaurant,” on Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas Boulevard) in 1939. She joined the suffragette movement in 1937. She won an award for Mother of the Outstanding Family of the Year; Republic Day Award 1955; Most Outstanding Woman Award in the Philippine Marketing Association in 1967. For her honor, the Golden Mother Award for Outstanding Mother of the Year was created by the National Youth in 1982 and she died on July 6, 1975.”

Engracia Cruz Reyes

Those were the markers around the main plaza of Malate with the people and the structures that influence this district. To end our tour of this place, here is the history of its famous boulevard, the former Dewey Boulevard and now named Roxas Bouelavard.

Roxas Boulevard

“The old name of the road is Cavite Boulevard. It was then changed to Dewey Boulevard after the American Admiral George Dewey. Dewey’s men defeated the Spanish navy in the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898. The name was changed to “Heiwa Boulevard” in 1941 during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. It was changed again to Roxas Boulevard in the 1960s after Manuel Roxas, the former president of the Philippine

Roxas Boulevard in the 1950s

The Cavite Boulevard was part of Architect Daniel Burnham’s plan for beautifying the city of Manila. At the request of Commissioner William Cameron Forbes, Burnham visited the country in 1905 at the height of the City Beautiful movement, a trend in the early 1900s in America for making cities beautiful along scientific lines, for the future urban development of Manila and Baguio City.

According to Burnham’s original concept of the Cavite Boulevard, the bayfront from the Luneta southward should be a continuous parkway, extending in the course of time all the way to the Cavite Navy Yard about 20 miles (32 km) away. This boulevard, about 250 ft (76 m) in width, with roadways, tramways, bridle path, rich plantations, and broad sidewalks, should be available for all classes of people in all sorts of conveyances, and so well shaded with coconut palms, bamboo, and mangoes as to furnish protection from the elements at all times.

Today the  wide road, that runs along the shores of Manila Bay. It is famous for its sunsets and stretch (or line) of coconut trees. It is now a trademark of tourism. It is famous for its yacht club, hotels, restaurants, commercial buildings, and parks.”

Here are the links for more information:,_Manila

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