Monday, July 8, 2013

Ruins and old buildings: markers of culture and history

 Dr Abe V Rotor

Old buildings and ruins speak of the past and tell us about our history. This summer offers us the chance to visit them. And if you happen to be passing near these landmarks, take time out, visit them, ponder on their significance. Read their markers if any, ask those who are from the place. And if you have a guidebook, trace their origin and their association with past events.

How many of these old buildings and ruins can you recognize? Write the appropriate caption under each photo. Write a story about this experience.

1 Clue: Natural rock formation in the middle of a field, inside is a huge cave, abode of thousands of bats. Regarded as sacred by the local residents, rarely visited by tourists.
2 Clue: A harmonious blend of Western and Oriental architecture, this church is a hybrid of two worlds, dichotomous cultures, and eras - ancient and colonial; a living monument distinctly unique from European structures then, its ramparts and minarets showing influences of ancient religions in Asia, and South America, the Aztecs and Mayans, which were later - like the Philippines - subjugated by Spain.3 Clue: World War II ruin. Before it was burned down, it served as a concentration camp of the Japanese soldiers, like the University of Santo Tomas, now fully reconstructed, losing much of its original architecture.
4 Clue: A huge pier built by the Americans during the Commonwealth era, but was never put to use, even during the second world war. The tip of the pier is still visible.
5 Clue: These are residential buildings preserved to this day, arranged in rows and intersections as they stood for hundreds of years, favorite tourists destination. The only remaining original Spanish settlement in the Philippines. (Photo c. 2000)
6 Clue: Frieze carved from limestone, graces the columns of an old church's entrance, reminiscent of European Renaissance, definitely of strong Greco-Roman influence. (Photo c. 1985)
7 Clue: Ruin of a convent in Spanish time; with large eyes staring blankly, and sparse vegetation covering its top, the ruin emotes post-colonial sentiments in history and arts. (Photo c. 1985)
8 Clue: Main tower of a lighthouse sitting on a hilltop overlooking the western sea, its beam visible hundreds of kilometers to guide ships in olden times - and up to the present - navigating the treacherous rocky shipping lane; a major tourists attraction. (Photo April 2009)

9 Clue: This huge bell tower was decapitated by a strong earthquake. With its detached top precariously perched, for years people were warned to keep off within a safe perimeter, until it fell off to the ground. This is a recent photograph. (April 2009)
10 Clue: Main building of the oldest universities in the world (1611), older than Harvard, constructed with earthquake-resistant foundation, a UNESCO world heritage. (Photo 2009)
11 Clue: This is one of many watch towers dotting the islands to warn of marauding bands of pirates from the south, local version of Vikings of the Scandinavia. 
 12 Clue: Sitting atop a hill this 17th century church is unique for its hundred steps, setting of many movies and documentaries, an engineering wonder on its stability against strong wind and tropical monsoon, more so with its huge bell tower at the edge of the promontory. (Photo 2009)
13 Clue: If there is a leaning tower, this is a different one for the Book of Guinness. This sinking bell tower, the arch of its door is now on ground level - is still sinking - what with the daily grind of city life!

14  Clue: The tower sits on a hill.   It is made of red bricks that glow in the sun. History tells us that Diego Silang, the Ilocano hero who fought Spanish rule in the 17th century was assassinated in the nearby church and convent.  
15 Clue: This church bell is presently a tourist attraction together with the old church (background) to which it was once a part in the seventeeth century. The town where it is found is adjudged the cleanest town of the province. 

1. Batuhan in Mandaon, Masbate
Paoay church, Paoay IN (Postcard courtesy)

3. Saint Paul College, Quezon City
4. Sunken pier, San Ildefonso, Ilocos Sur
5. Colonial houses in Vigan City
6. Frieze of 17th century church, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur
7. Ruin collapsed in a recent earthquake, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur
8. Cape Bojeador lighthouse, Burgos, Ilocos Norte
9. Bacarra bell tower, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte
10. University of Santo Tomas, Manila
11. Moro watch tower, Santa, Ilocos Sur
12. Santa Maria church, IS
13. Bell tower, Laoag City

14. Befry Tower, Bantay Ilocos Sur 
15. San Juan, La Union, next town north of San Fernando City (LU)

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