For almost four centuries, the Walled City of Intramuros was the seat of Spanish colonial rule in the East and was the center of commerce, education, government and religion. With World War II, however, Intramuros lost its old grandeur and glory. The post-war years were witness to the gradual neglect of Intramuros. It became a den of squatters and warehouses. Cargo trucks passed through the old streets, parking their container vans at vacant lots. Weeds and other growth filled the cracks in the walls, leading to further deterioration. In 1951, Republic Act 597, declared Fort Santiago a national shrine and Intramuros as a historical monument. The law required the use of Spanish architectural designs for constructions in the city. Since there was neither criteria nor definition of what constitutes Spanish architecture, many of the structures built passed themselves off as “Spanish-style.” Republic Act 1607 declared the Walled City a “commercial, residential and educational district”. This law opened Intramuros to all kinds of structures in complete disregard to historicity. It also ordered the widening of the streets for vehicles. Other laws saved Intramuros. PD 1277 and 1537 preserved the streets and the walls of Intramuros from destruction and instituted penalties for violations. In 1966, the Intramuros Restoration Committee (IRC) with Education Secretary Alejandro Roces as Chairman, was created under the aegis of the National Historical Commission. This group -- initially tasked to restore the city -- was composed of national and local officials with members from the private sector. With limited government funds and donations, the IRC managed to restore portions of the walls and fortifications, including six of the gates. The Armed Forces Ladies Committee donated funds for the restoration of sections of Fort Santiago. The government, however, was not satisfied with its restoration policies. In 1972, following a reorganization with the imposition...
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