The MNL 'Sta. Ana'


We've explored Tondo, Sta. Cruz, Binondo, Ermita & Quiapo, and now Sta. Ana. This is the culmination of our MNL District Series, where WIP has aspired to re-tell stories of our past that are closer to home than we think. Present day Manila is a melting pot of cultures, steeped in modernity, filled with first-world structures placed in stark contrast with third-world living: familiar images of our country's history are all around us.

Once known as the Kingdom of Namayan, Santa Ana was renamed and became a place for the wealthy Manileños of the time, adorned with beautifully built abodes and ancestral houses, most of them found along the once bustling but now polluted Pasig River. Sta. Ana was declared a heritage zone only last year, and sadly, most of these houses have given way to modern commercial developments, though few still remain.

Considered to be one of the wealthiest places in old Manila, Sta. Ana became home to land owners and businessmen as well as the famous Santa Ana Park, where horseraces have been held since 1937. The famous Santa Ana church was built from 1720 to 1725 and was dedicated to its present patron, the Our Lady of the Abandoned. The revered image of its patron came from Spain and arrived in the Philippines in 1717, strengthening the influence of Christianity in the Philippines. However, in the 1960's it was uncovered that ancient artifacts were dug up during an excavation within the church's vicinity, proving that Manila and the land of the Philippines is quite old on its own merits.

Although the colonization of the Philippines has been the main focus of education and discussion, our indigenous culture during pre-colonial times is another story. Even our National hero, Jose Rizal, made it clear in his works that our history be re-told from the Filipino perspective. Rizal was dedicated to confronting the colonial ideology and developing a system of thought that aimed at the liberation of the nation. In a sense, Santa Ana was the image of a flourishing district, but through a different perspective, it was also a symptom of corruption and power-struggles between classes. Jose Rizal understood and wrote about the cycles, archetypes and sicknesses of society, believing in our nation to his untimely death.

Nowadays, Sta. Ana is feeling the change and trappings of modernity, where locals are fighting for their rights to preserve structures that are unique to their district: physical reminders of our past that we hold with much sentiment. Although Hispanic ancestral homes and old structures invoke memories of a time we were colonized, after the war fought alongside America, we have been swayed towards other directions and visions--and we have retained them to this day. There's no denying that Manila has been heavily influenced to keep up with the rest of our rapidly developing neighbors, even if it means leaving others behind. Filipinos are now conquering other Filipinos under the influence of Westernized culture and ideologies, divided up by social structures.

The MNL Sta. Ana is a crown for every Filipino, reminding us that our spirit as people has not been stifled by others in the past, and there is no reason for us to allow society's self-destruction to overwhelm our ideals and aspirations for the future. Two interlocking golden horseshoes symbolize good luck and form the image of an eye to keep watch behind the scenes. Our country and its people are priceless, and we must always make informed and compassionate decisions that benefit the masses instead of only a selected few. Nothing will change if we continue to perpetuate the treatment we have endured as a nation in the past.

This fitted cap may look luxurious, but that's all on the surface. After all, the most valuable thing you will find in a cap is the mind that wears it.

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?” ― José Rizal, El Filibusterismo

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