Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the Philippines, the district of Santa Cruz consisted of partly marshland, patches of greenery, orchards and rice fields.
Construction of the first Santa Cruz Church was started in 1608 by the Jesuits and it was consecrated in June 1619, as the parish to serve the increasing migrants from China arriving in Manila, many of whom had decided to convert to Catholicism.
The patron saint of the Church is Our Lady of the Pillar. The Jesuits enshrined the image of the Our Lady in 1643.
The Church was seriously damaged by earthquakes and was eventually completely destroyed at the end of World War II.
Construction of the current Church was, completed in 1957. Built in the Baroque Style, it is quite reminiscent of the Mission Churches of Western Mexico and Southern California.
The Church is built facing Plaza Santa Cruz and adjacent to the Friendship Arch marking the gateway to Manila’s Chinatown. The main feature of the Plaza is its beautiful fountain. It is called the Carriedo Fountain so named after Don Francisco Carriedo y Peredo, Manila’s greatest benefactor. It was through his will that a piped water system was installed in Manila.
Francisco Carriedo was born in Santander, Spain on November 7, 1690. In 1727 he was a general of the Spanish Navy living in Manila. Carriedo himself invested in the Acapulco-Manila Galleon Trade, where he made his fortune. He died in September 1743 willing his fortune to his uncle Pedro Carriedo. Although he also indicated in his will that 10,000 pesos was to be used solely to establish a water works system for the City of Manila.
But the City Government decided not to utilize the whole amount then, they decided to invest it year by year in the Galleon trade and the principal will remain in the Treasury under the account Caja de Carriedo (Carriedo’s Chest).
By 1762 the investment had grown to nearly 250,000. pesos. When the British seized Manila, they raided the Carriedo Chest as well as other money belonging to the City and the Colonial Government. Fortunately, 9210 or 9510 pesos was saved due to an alert sent by the Spaniards to the Galleon El Filipino which was in transit at the time. By the end of the 18th century, most of the money had been lost due to bad loans, and only the Original Capital remained, the project remained dormant due to lack funds.
It was July 24, 1882, more than a century after Don Carriedo’s death, that his will was realized. By then Manila’s piped water system was not only built to service the area within the walls of the City but also included the new suburban areas outside the wall.
On June 24th, 1784, the Spanish King deeded about 2 square kilometres of land that was part of the Hacienda de Mayhaligue to the San Lazaro Hospital which served as an extensive leper colony in Manila at the time.
At the Santa Cruz Parish, a small park was built that linked the area into the headquarters of the Spanish cavalry, the building that would become The College of San Ildefonso, operated by the Jesuits.
The Franciscans were given the responsibility of caring for the lepers of the city through the San Lazaro Hospital. Friar Felix Huertas developed San Lazaro into a refuge for the afflicted and it became a famous home for those afflicted leprosy on the north side of the Pasig River.
During World War II, the Japanese occupational forces were caught unaware of the fast approaching the liberation by the combined forces of American & Filipino soldiers from the north, in 1945. They abandoned the northern bank of the Pasig River including Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz and much of the northern portions of Manila were spared from the artillery bombardment and to date, a number of pre-World War II buildings and houses still stand in Santa Cruz.
We want to thank the following for their contributions to this article:
Photos provided by:
- Architect Rommel Legaspi,
- Manila Nostalgia & Lou Gopal of www.lougopal.com
Materials and some photos provided by: www.wikipedia.org