10 Postcards of 1960s Manila

"I keep coming back to Manila. Simply no place like Manila. Manila, I'm coming home."


That catchy tune of the 1970s Filipino band, Hotdog, is something that I always hum to whenever I go home to Manila. For the past decade, I've been living in Cebu City and every chance I get, I visit my family in Manila. Well, technically, Metro Manila. 

Manila City Hall circa 1967. You can see the Post Office on the horizon.


Nowadays, Manila is just one of the cities that comprises Metro Manila. But it is still known as the capital of the Philippines since the seat of power, Malacañan, is still found here. 


Manila has been synonymous with the Philippines since Spanish Conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, founded the city in 1571. When the Americans came, they decided to redesign Manila similar to Washington D.C.. 


They hired architect and urban designer, Daniel Burnham. Unfortunately, the plan wasn't fully completed because of the outbreak of World War II and the decision to transfer the Capital to Quezon City. 


In one of my afternoon strolls through downtown Cebu City, I came across the Goodwill bookstore, which is one of the oldest bookstores in the country. It's just right across the University of San Carlos. I entered the store intending to look for some Filipiniana books on food and cooking but I ended up stumbling upon these old postcards.

These photo postcards were produced in the 1960s and I excitedly went through them looking at forgotten scenes of Manila. I couldn't believe how beautiful the layout of Manila was during this period. Its appearance was almost similar to Washington, D.C. with its roundabout, fountains, expansive roads, and neoclassical-inspired government buildings.

I could only imagine that this was what Daniel Burnham or Juan Arellano envisioned Manila to look like when they created their respective city plans. It was a sight to see. It's so different from the overpopulated and grimy landscape that Manila has now. 

My dad is going to love seeing these postcards since he grew up in Manila. I bought him a set of these postcards so that he could have his own collection.


Agrifina Circle 

Renamed Teodoro F. Valencia Circle in 1990, the then Agrifina Circle was surrounded by the Agriculture and Finance buildings. These buildings were re-purposed and given to the National Museum of the Philippines. They now house the National Museum of Anthropology and Natural History. 


The Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom can also be seen here.


You'll also notice the red JD Transit bus plying the road. It was one of the popular bus companies during this era. It's quite small compared to the buses that we have now. 


Isn't Agrifina Circle beautiful?


Manila Hilton Hotel


This modernist structure bordering United Nations Avenue and Maria Orosa Street ushered in the 1960s for Manila. It also holds a special place in our family's heart. My parents had their wedding reception here. 

Manila Hilton was the first five-star hotel constructed during the 1960s. They have a great view of Rizal Park and Manila Bay.


In later years, it became a Holiday Inn. And in 2004, it became the Waterfront Manila Pavillion. 



"Take me to the Hilton"

Rizal Monument 


The next photo is just a memory for some of us. The Rizal Monument in all of its majestic glory without that awful condo building marring its background. What we need in the Philippines is the proper implementation of zoning laws. 



An idyllic scene of Luneta and the Rizal Monument

Chinese Garden in Luneta


Luneta or Rizal Park is one of the largest city parks in Asia. It's divided into several points of interest. And one of this is the Chinese Garden which has a lagoon and pagodas.


The Chinese Garden is still in Rizal Park. Other than the skyline and more greenery surrounding it, the layout is almost the same.

Chinese Pagoda and Lagoon 

The Old Legislative Building

Built in 1921, this neoclassical structure originally housed both the Philippine Senate and Congress. One of the architects was Juan Arellano who also designed the Manila Metropolitan Theatre and the Manila Central Post Office.


There are two statues that depict Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña who were instrumental in creating the Philippine Legislative.

The building is now the National Museum of Fine Arts. The postcard also shows Intramuros and Roxas Boulevard.

The Legislative Building on all its glory.

The Turret of Intramuros

This is one of the remaining turrets of Intramuros that has stood the test of time. The majority of the walled city of Intramuros were destroyed during the heavy bombardment of the American Forces and the arson that the retreating Japanese army did on the last days of World War II.


My maternal grandparents used to live in Intramuros during the 1930s and they never came back after the war because of the devastation. It took decades to reconstruct certain sections of Intramuros.

Turret section of the wall overlooking with
the Manila City Hall at the background.

Avenida Rizal

Rizal Avenue or Avenida Rizal was mostly known for its movie theaters like the Galaxy, Avenue, Lyric, Scala, and Ideal. It was the happening place before and after World War II because of the abundance of social activities that are available.


But similar to what happened to Times Square in the 1970s, it saw a deterioration when newer districts were created (e.g. Makati) and the movie theaters started catering to porn or soft-porn movies.

The Ideal Theater can be clearly seen on this postcard of Avenida Rizal.


Malacañang Palace

The mansion started out as a summer house along the Pasig River for the Spanish Governor-Generals but after the 1863 Earthquake destroyed the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, it became the official residence.

During the 1986 People Power Revolution, protesters stormed the Palace after the Marcoses left for Honolulu, Hawaii.

Official entrance of Malacañang Palace

Arch of the Centuries - UST

The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, the Catholic University of the Philippines was established on 1611. It is the oldest university in the country and Asia. It's also older than Harvard University.

The Arch of the Centuries which welcomes visitors to the Sampaloc campus used materials from the original entrance in the Intramuros campus. The other half of the arch is newly constructed.

Commemorative plaques of Jose Rizal and Manuel L. Quezon are found on the pillars. Scenes depicting the life of St. Thomas Aquinas (Patron Saint of UST) decorate the top half of the arch.

The main building can be seen through the Arch of the Centuries.

Have you visited any of these places? I hope we can cherish and treasure these places which are part of our heritage and society.


Blogger's note: Most of the postcards were printed by JMC Press Inc, Quezon City. 

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