The Philippines is a nation carved by a rich, colorful and fascinating history. From the time our ancestors arrived 30,000 years ago from ancient Malaya and perhaps since the beginning of written history, the country went through a myriad of historical events that shaped the country to what it is in present time.
This country has been invaded, colonized, annexed and seized by other nations in the past, all leaving behind different historical landmarks which can still be gleaned, seen and visited in the different regions of the country. The nation’s capital itself is laden with historic structures from the Spanish colonial era which began in the 1500’s and lasted for over 300 years.
The following are historical landmarks which serve as living reminders that offer glimpses of the Philippines’ unique history.
Malacanang Palace – Malacanang Palace has been the official residence of all Philippine Presidents since 1935 when the Commonwealth Government was formed, and Philippine President Manuel Quezon was the first Filipino President to use the Spanish colonial period building as his official residence. Malacanang is founded along the banks of the Pasig River and the palace was originally built in 1750 by a powerful and wealthy Spanish Don to serve as his summer rest house.
Intramuros Manila – Manila’s oldest known district, Intramuros was a Spanish era walled city originally constructed in the 1600’s for the purpose of housing ranking Spaniard officials who took over the reins of the country during the period of Spanish colonial rule. Intramuros is characterized by classical European architecture, the walls that fortified the banks of the southern part of the river Pasig stretch 3 miles from end to end which at that period was guarded heavily by Spanish foot soldiers, effectively securing their ranking officials who used Intramuros as their official residence. Today, a glimpse of that past can still be experienced as Intramuros has been turned into a tourist spot cum commercial district which offers a healthy balance of the old and new.
Vigan Ilocos Sur – This locality is situated at the northern regions of the Philippines where Spanish influences and architecture are well preserved. From the cobblestones to the old brick walls and houses that line the whole city.Vigan is truly one of the perfect heritage sites that serve as living proof of the country’s long, and probably unwanted at the time, association with Spain. The City of Vigan was officially declared a UNESCO world heritage site back in 1999. Visiting this Northern city brings tourists back in time, and offers a unique perspective to what it was like during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines.
Cebu City – The proud City of Cebu is the place where the Spaniards first set foot in the Philippines. It is an important historical site and region as Spanish influences, culture and structures can still be seen and experienced to this day. The city counts among its treasures some of the most iconic Spanish era architecture that includes the first catholic churches built by the Spaniards to introduce Christianity and Roman Catholicism to the natives, which to this date is still the largest religious organization in the country and the whole of Asia. Some of the more popular tourist spots of this city include the Krus ni Magellan or Magellan’s Cross, a local heritage site commemorating the historic arrival of the first Spanish explorer and conqueror Ferdinand Magellan who planted a cross on the beach where he landed to mark the beginning of a religious conversion and occupation of the entire country. The Basilica del Sto. Nino is also a popular Spanish era church housing some of the oldest religious relics brought by the Spaniards to the country, including a priceless statue of the child Jesus that dates back Magellan’s landing or 1521.
Corregidor – This is perhaps the best representation of the Filipino resistance to colonial rule both from the Spanish during the colonial occupation and in recent history against the Japanese during the Second World War. Historically important and recognized by the Philippine Historical Commission, Corregidor served as headquarters for the allied forces due to its strategic location at the mouth or entrance of Manila Bay. American and Filipino soldiers fought the invading Japanese forces, sacrificing their lives for freedom and liberty from the Japanese Imperial Army. Today, Corregidor serves as an important historic site where visitors can still see some big guns or cannons still neatly rested on the walls facing the Manila Bay.
The Rizal Shrine – This shrine dedicated to the works and life of the national hero Jose Rizal is located in Fort Santiago inside the historic walls of Intramuros, Manila. Everything inside the complex is meant to showcase the great Filipino’s works and ideals which had inspired the whole country, books, memorabilia’s, copies of his works and collections are proudly displayed, offering a glimpse on the equally colorful life of the Philippine’s most revered hero of the Spanish period.
The EDSA Shrine – The Edsa Shrine is dedicated to our Lady of Edsa, Queen of Peace built in 1989. It serves as an iconic monument to the historic people power revolution that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power which is hailed by the entire world as the most peaceful revolution in the history of mankind. It is believed that the bloodless revolt miraculously happened with the intercession and protection of The Virgin Mary, which led to Edsa being called a holy ground by many of the millions who joined the march for peace.