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Extramuros de Manila, A Glimpse at Filipino Roots

by Professor Guillermo Gomez Rivera,  Bayanihan Consultant



Intramuros means inside the walls, which was the main town, the center, the Capital of Las Islas Filipinas. Intra, after all means ‘inside’ and muros means walls. This explains why, according to writer Nick Joaquin, Intramuros was known in Tagalog as "sa loob ng Maynila".

Extramuros, on the other hand, meant ‘outside the walls, sa labás, and it was composed of arrabales, or suburban municipalities and pueblos, whose names we still know today. To wit: Binondo, Tondo, Santa Cruz, Quiapo, San Miguel, Paco de Dilao and Ermita to point out the most immediate ones.

The historical context of the EXTRAMUROS DE MANILA SUITE is the visit to the Philippines of Sir John Bowring, Governor General of British Hong Kong, in the 1870s. He was warmly received by Spanish officialdom, the Principalía and school children that sang to him "God Save the Queen of England" to a Chino Cristiano brassband. After the usual protocol and amenities like a Vino de honor, Sir John Bowring was entertained with Spanish dances by the Criollos Insulares and the native Principalía Inramureña who danced El Cañí, La Jota de la Etudiantina and a Zapateado del Sacromonte.

By noon he was led to a tour of Extramuros de Manila, ---Binondo, Tondo, Santa Cruz, Quiapo, San Miguel, Dilao (Paco) and Ermita. He returned to Intramuros in the evening for a grand reception at the famous Salón de Mármol (Marble Hall) del Palacio del Gobernador.

After getting to know the Filipino people, Sir John Bowring, praised the work of Spain in the Philippines for having Christianized and Hispanized its inhabitants.

Wrote Sir John Bowring:
"The lines separating entire classes and races, appeared to me less marked than in the Oriental colonies. I have seen on the same table, Spaniards, Metizos (Chinos cristianos) and Indios, priests and military. There is no doubt that having one Religion forms great bonding. And more so to the eyes of one that has been observing the repulsion and differences due to race in many parts of Asia. And from one (like myself) who knows that race is the great divider of society, the admirable contrast and exception to racial discrimination so markedly presented by the people of the Philippines is indeed admirable."

"Credit is certainly due to Spain for having bettered the condition of a people who, though comparatively highly civilized, yet being continually distracted by petty wars, had sunk into a disordered and uncultivated state. The inhabitants of these beautiful Islands upon the whole, may well be considered to have lived as comfortably during the last hundred years, protected form all external enemies and governed by mild laws vis-a-vis those from any other tropical country under native or European sway, owing in some measure, to the frequently discussed peculiar (Spanish) circumstances which protect the interests of the natives." (Travels in the Philippines, London, 1875). Let us follow
Sir John Bowring’s tour of Extramuros de Manila.  


Binondo, Santa Cruz and Quiapo were mainly Chino Cristiano, the other name for Sector de Mestizos or Parian, and their Mestizo Terciado offsprings, --- local Spanish citizens that had Chinese, Spanish and Indio Tagalog blood in their veins. Spanish Mestizos with no Chinese blood were classified for tax purposes as Criollos Insulares (Creoles).

A Chino Cristiano was a Chinese trader who, upon conversion to Catholicism, became a Spanish Citizen. Thus, Binondo, the commercial capital of these Islands that brought in the products of mainland China to load in the Manila Acapulco galleons was composed of trade associations like the Gremio de Chinos (infieles), Gremio de Mestizos (Chinos Cristianos) and Gremio de Naturales (Indio-Tagalos).

This ethnic and social background explains why the old Binondo-SantaCruz-Quiapo songs are in Spanish their melodies showing a blend of Spanish and Chinese melodic strains'.
Nací en Binondo sin contrabando
Nací más blanco que un Don Sangláy*
Siendo mi padre buen comerciante
Siendo mi madre Ñora Quicáy*…

English translation:
I was born in Binondo without any smugling.
I was born whiter than a Sir Sanglay*1.
My father being a good trader.
My Mother being Madam Quicay*2.
* Sanglay: - a Chinaman;
* Madam Quicay (Doña Francisca) ,
a Tagala of the Native Principalíya)

2. SANTA CRUZ and QUIAPO gladly received Sir John Bowring with a welcome song and dance. The Quiapense chinas cristianas danced El collar de sampaguita with garlands in their hands. The male dancers waved ribbon figurines in the air. At the end of their song and dance they resented these perfumed garlands to the distinguished British guest who was all smiles.

de perfume seductor.
Quinta esencia
de la dicha y
del amor.
3. PACO DE DILAO and SAN MIGUEL was partly settled by Japanese Catholics who had intermarried with local Tagalog women. The mix did not only introduce maiz and mongo con hielo but also a coy, but flirtatious dance that alternates a paper mask with a fan on the face. The sanmiguelina dress is an interesting blend of a Spanish Tagalog saya with an alampay or a pañoleta with tassles and Kimono-like sleeves or mangas de jamón.

(Habanera de Dilao, Paco .1870)
En sueños reveló con dulce son,
con mimo son. En sueños suplicó
no mire así. no mire así.
En sueños descubrí mi fe inmortal
ánfora y elixirde triunfal pasión.

This is an aristocratic pueblo near Intramuros. It is separated by the grand Paseo de la Luneta. It’s native popualtion, 12,000 of them speak Chabacano or Creole Spanish most of them working for the Spanish government, like one Jorge León Guerrero who was "un escribano", and serving an aristocratic Principalía de Indios, Insulares and Peninsulares than only spoke in Spanish. Thus it’s humorous Pasacalle del Aray, sang in Criollo, has all the nuances of a Flamenco dance. The Ermitense dress, like that of Cavite, is strongly Andalusian.

En la dulzura de mi afán,
junto contigo na un peñon
mientras ta despierta el buan y en
las playas del Pasay se iba
bajando el sol.
5. BACK TO INTRAMUROS, Sir John Bowring was honored by a grand reception, dinner and show at the Palacio del Gobernador where upon the marble flooring of the Gran Salón de Mármol, the La Jota Intramureña in the gala Filipino dress of that time was presented to his delight.




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