Brief History of Manila

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Before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, there already existed a small settlement at the mouth of the Pasig River. It was called Maynilad because of the proliferation of the nilad plant along its shores. At the time of Spanish contact, Maynilad was already a thriving community under the coordinated leadership of two rajahs, one called Matanda (“Old One"), and the other, his nephew, called Rajah Sulayman. Rajah Sulayman had considerable power: he controlled the traffic, into and out of the Pasig, of Chinese vessels that conducted trade with settlements in the interior. Archaeological evidences and ancient documents reveal that Manila was an established entrepot and a political and military nerve center of the region around the Manila Bay long before the coming of the Spaniards. When the conquistadores arrived in 1565, they found large, prosperous pallisaded communities. As soon as news of these settlements reached Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, head of the Spanish expedition, he set out to conquer them. Two battles were fought over Maynila, 'the second ending with a decisive victory for the Spaniards. Recognizing the strategic position of Maynila as a trading center and military outpost, Legaspi promptly declared the area the capital of Spain's new colonies on June 24, 1571. The King of Spain, delighted over its new territory, awarded the City a coat of arms and the grandiose title MThe Noble and Ever Loyal City." A plan for the City was first drafted based on King Philip II's Royal Ordinance issued on July 3, 1573 in San Lorenzo, Spain. The families who were displaced from Sulayman's fort established a new settlement south of the new Spanish

stronghold. This area came to be known as Bagumbayan and was located in the area now occupied by the Rizal Park. The Spanish settlement was perenially threatened by piracy and attempts at invasion. This necessitated the building of walls. What began as a wooden enclosure became a fortification. Eventually a walled city 1.2 square kilometers in area rose at the mouth of the Pasig River. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, Intramuros was the city of Manila. Spanish colonization was carried out not just by the sword but by the cross. In fact, the establishment of Spanish settlements allover the country were entrusted to and carried out by missionaries. The first community to be brought under the bells" outside of Intramuros was Sapa which the colonizers renamed Santa Ana. To build Intramuros, the Spaniards enlisted the services of the Chinese and, inevitably, a Chinese community grew outside of the city's walls. A flea market in the Chinese quarter outside its northeast gate supplied the residents with food and other necessities. Indio carpenters and masons who worked in the city during the day, had to leave by night; the city was exclusive to Spaniards. In time Intramuros became crowded; some of its residents, grown wealthy from the lucrative Manila-Acapulco trade, established secondary homes in choice locations to escape the congestion of the city. Thus were laid the seeds of new towns that eventually became the suburbs of Intramuros. By the beginning of the 19th century, there were Ermita, Malate and San Fernando de Dilao on the left bank of the Pasig; and Binondo, Tondo, Santa Cruz, Quiapo, San Miguel and Sampaloc on the right bank. Santa Ana and Pandacan were as yet small independent towns functionally linked to the emerging metropolis. In these localities, members of all races could set up their residences although


some came to have racial identification: Binondo became predominantly Chinese and Dilao Japanese. The latter part of the 19th century saw the Filipinos take up arms and declare its independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. The Spaniards, not wanting to surrender to the Filipinos, entered into an agreement, the Treaty of Paris, with the Americans. After a mock battle in Manila Bay, the Philippines was passed from one...
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