As an Italian, I grew up being conscious of historical sites and their cultural significance. It was something that was taught to us as children. As you mature, you fully realize the importance of revisiting the past, because this helps us to understand the present events in our society and to appreciate the uniqueness of our cultures.
When I came to the Philippines, now my adopted home, I recognized this in the way that Intramuros are appreciated and preserved. Upon visiting Intramuros, I felt that I was in time travel as I saw the different structures in the place that served as the political, economic, cultural, and religious center of one period in Philippine history.
I am impressed with the different buildings and structures in the Walled City. San Augustin Church is over 400-years old and is definitely a survivor, having weathered several wars and seven major earthquakes. The San Agustin Church also holds the tomb of the first governor, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.
I find touring Fort Santiago very fascinating and engaging as it gave me the chance to get a glimpse of Jose Rizal’s greatness and his love for the Motherland. Of course, there is also a sense of shock and horror when you visit the dungeons where several civilians and resistance fighters were imprisoned, tortured, and killed during the Japanese occupation.
The massive city walls around Intramuros (hence the name) were designed to protect the city from invaders and pirates. It was typical of that period to build those walls to repel invaders. Also in Rome, similar designs were developed in different eras to serve as protection against enemies.
As an architect and a designer, I am also an urbanist. I am aware that IDC’s projects shape the image and the functions of growing Philippine cities. This places a great responsibility on developers like IDC.
Design choices that we make today will influence the mentality of urban dwellers in the future. Care, skill, and deliberate detail brought by developers are the most concrete possible steps toward defining future Philippine cities.
Intramuros, as one of the country’s earliest exercises in urban planning, one whose streets and ramparts still exist with daily life thrumming over them, is a communicator. Its churches, ramparts, dungeons, and walls are all reminders to us of the history that preceded us. They speak to us of faith, love of country, survival, and transcendence.
Today, modern precincts and game-changing infrastructure are being built. The decisions made today by urbanists of all types, including designers and architects like me, developers like my company, IDC, and also policy-makers and residents, will also speak concrete and permanent messages to generations in the future.
I would like to invite you to Like, Follow, and Share my online spaces and content on Facebook and LinkedIn (Architect Romolo V. Nati), and on Twitter (@romolovnati).