After lunch at Everybody’s Cafe, we made our way on foot to A. Consunji Street, which was where a lot of the heritage buildings and houses were located. Since the Vigan trip, I discovered an appreciation of architecture, particularly of times long gone. It’s the most tangible glimpse into the past one can have. Much of my information regarding the heritage buildings came from Ivan Henares, and was a very good travel guide for me.
The first building that we saw was the Virgen de los Remedios Hospital. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on how old the building was, but it looked pretty old. So old, in fact, that the building is now bank-acquired property, and is up for sale. It’s a shame, because it’s actually a pretty building, despite its age. Instead, the building has been abandoned, and is probably in danger of being demolished soon.
From there, we found ourselves in front of City Hall. The then-municipal hall was first contructed on the same site in 1755, then reconstructed in 1917. It was burned down (again) during World War II, and the city hall was reconstructed shortly after the war.
The City Hall is across the street from the Cathedral of San Fernando. The first church was first built in 1755, under the patronage of King Fernando III. Construction on the current cathedral began in 1788 and was completed in 1808. It was burned down under orders by Gen. Antonio Luna in 1899, and was destroyed by fire in 1939. The cathedral was restored by architect Fernando H. Ocampo.
Unfortunately, we were told that there was a wedding ongoing while we were there, and that the cathedral – also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral – was currently closed to visitors. Still, it was nice to see another example of an old cathedral, even if just from the exterior.
Just outside of the cathedral, but on the cathedral grounds, is a statue of Fernando III, King of Castille and Leon, Spain. It was under his patronage that the first church was built on those grounds.
Across the street from the cathedral was the old Pampanga Hotel, now the Pampanga Lodge and Restaurant. This was actually the first site of the Pampanga High School when it first opened in 1908. It was also used as the Harvardian College, then the Pampanga Hotel and Panciteria, and now the Pampanga Lodge and Restaurant.
From there, was proceeded down A. Consunji Street, and began seeing the heritage houses. Each house seemed to embody a different period in the Philippines’ colonial history, and if there’s one thing they all shared in common, it’s that they were all occupied by the Japanese during the war.
The first house we came across was the Santos-Hizon House. It was built at the turn of the century by Teodoro Santos and Africa Ventura, and is an example of architecture prevalent during the American Colonial Period. The house was purchased by Maria Hizon, then inherited by her brother, Augusto Hizon. His heirs now reside in the house.
Then we came across the Hizon-Singian House, which was declared a heritage house by the National Historical Institute on January 27, 2003. This bahay na bato from the Spanish Period was built in 1870 by Anacleto Hizon, gobernadorcillo of San Fernando from 1877-1879 and 1886-1887, and Victoria Singian de Miranda Y De Ocampo. It was occupied in 1896 by a Spanish general, then used as a military hospital and barracks by the Japanese Imperial Army in 1943 and 1944, and later served as headquarters of American General Walter Krueger during the liberation period.
Next was the Hizon-Ocampo House. This house was the birthplace of Fernando Ocampo Y Hizon in August 7, 1897. (If you’ll recall, Fernando H. Ocampo restored the Cathedral of San Fernando.) He is known as the pioneer of modern Filipino architecture. Aside from the Metropolitan Cathedral, other famous works include the restored Manila Cathedral, the Central Seminary Building of UST, and the Sacred Heart Noviciate Building in Novaliches.
Next was the Tabacalera House, another example of architecture during the American Colonial Period. The ground floor of the house the Tabacalera offices. In 1943-1944, it was used by the Japanese Imperial Army as the headquarters of the Kempeitai. The house has some really cool details, like the blue bricks on the walls seen here.
We then came across the Consunji House, home of Don Antonio Consunji, Gobernadorcillo of San Fernando in 1892. He was actually removed from office by Spanish authorities because of his presence during Jose Rizal’s visit to San Fernando in June of that year. Then, during the Philippine Revolution, he became Presidente Municipal of San Fernando from 1898 to 1899. (And yes, that’s my mom in the picture below.)
The last heritage house was saw was the Lazatin House. Another house from the American Colonial Period, it was built in 1925 by Serafin Lazatin Y Ocampo and Encarnacion Singian Y Torres. During World War II, it served as residence to General Masahru Homma.
Across the street from the Lazatin House was another interesting building, the Essel Supermarket. It is probably from the same era as the Virgen de los Remedios Hospital, but I’m not sure. I guess the building style and the sign were appealing to me, perhaps because of its very retro look. I also liked that the picture captured two little kids who were thrilled to be part of the picture. Ah, serendipity.
From A. Consunji Street, we went to where the Pampanga Capitol was. In front of the capitol was a veritable sea of sand. Apparently, it’s the Macario Arnedo Park, and according to a banner on the grounds (and confirmed by someone I saw in the capitol building), it’s actually in the middle of renovation. Nearly buried in the sand are monuments to Jose Abad Santos, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal, and Honorio Ventura.
Also on the ground of the park is a statue of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.
The centerpiece of the park is a monument to General Maximino Hizon, who, according to WikiPilipinas, was a Katipunero who became Commandante General of Pampanga. He and his men attacked the garrison in San Fernando, and ordered the execution of parish priests in Mexico and San Fernando.
In a clear sign that we were still in the Philippines, the park ground also had a section exclusively for banners protesting and calling for the resignation of Pampanga Governor Panlilio.
The Pampanga Capitol is a beautiful building. It was built in 1904, shortly after the provincial capital was transferred to San Fernando from Bacolor. It was also the site of a major battle during World War II betwen guerilla forces and the Japanese Imperial Army.
I managed to get a sneak peek inside, and it was lovely. The guy I kinda-sorta chatted with (and who informed me of the renovation on the park) thought I was with the media. I… guess being a blogger makes me media? heh.
From there, I decided to look for the old San Fernando Train Station, because of its historic nature. It was where Jose Rizal disembarked on his visit to San Fernando, and perhaps more importantly, it was the end point of the Death March during World War II. There weren’t any tracks or clear signs as to where it may be, save for a little street with a sign that read, “Welcome Sitio 6 PNR.” (PNR being the Philippine National Railways.) With that, as well as a map that indicated the train station was in that general direction, I was on the hunt.
I was greeted by one sad sight. Not because of all the history around the place, but because it hadn’t been taken care of at all. All that marked the historicity of the location was a route marker, a commemorative stone, and a heritage plaque on the side of the train station.
The train station, which I think is actually a nice bit of architecture, was now just an abandoned rundown building. It’s now surrounded by houses, and there’s actually a basketball hoop attached to one side of this heritage site. For one reason or another, the arches of the train station are being covered by some unsightly hollow blocks. Even the route marker signifying the end point of the Death March didn’t escape vandalism.
The other side of the building is overrun with weeds, and the archways are covered up with sheet iron. This is definitely not how a heritage building should be treated, especially a spot as historic as the San Fernando Train Station. This is a site that saw Jose Rizal, and the brave soldiers who marched all the way here from Bataan, only to be stuffed in cramped trains on the way to Capas, Tarlac. After surviving wars and other great calamities, it has now succumbed to neglect. It’s a shame, because the actual building seems to be inhabitable. It could be restored and fixed up as a museum or a monument. I hope something is done about this.
Later that day, we went to check out another heritage building, one that was restored and preserved (thankfully): Pampanga High School, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary. The main school building was completed in 1935 and follows Standard Plan No. 20 of Gabaldon schoolhouses. It was restored in 2006 as part of the Heritage Schoolhouse Restoration Program, a joint effort by the Department of Education and the Heritage Conservation Society.
Unfortunately, the school ground were closed (it was a Saturday, after all), but there was a gap in the gate that allowed me to marvel at the heritage building from afar. Incidentally, this was the alma mater of my stepdad, giving me a personal connection to the school, albeit in a six-degrees kind of way.
That pretty much ended my tour of the heritage buildings in San Fernando, Pampanga. I missed a few, but that’s what happens when you only have a limited time to explore. I also snapped some pictures of a few interesting buildings I saw, such as the Salud II Fabric Center (a tall, think building that looked somewhat space-agey), the old Central Luzon Technological Institute (now housing a bunch of stores), and the Dayrit Canlas Building (a well-preserved commercial building from possibly the ’50s or ’60s).
There was also a statue/sculpture/monument along the road whose nature I don’t know about, mostly because I just passed by it while on the jeepney. I never got to take a look at it up close, or find out why it was there in the first place.
So that’s the end of my tour of the heritage sites, houses, and buildings in San Fernando, Pampanga. It was a nice glimpse into a past that I’ve only read about. It’s still a fascinating topic for me, and this experience only made me more curious and interested in heritage locations.
When I next update about my San Fernando trip, it’s about the big event: The Giant Lantern Festival!