Lakaran sa Quiapo : A walking tour of historical areas of Quiapo

Quiapo district , Manila -Philippines

The tour was started sometime in 1987 by Dr. Teresita “Tess” B. Obusan. LAKBAY LAKARAN SA QUIAPO was originally called LAKARAN SA QUIAPO. Lakaran means journey on foot, but to further emphasize the theme, the word lakbay which means travel was added.

Lakaran is based on Hermano Pule’s (1815-1841) concept of journeying with fellow countrymen to empower them. The concept has been appropriated to the pilgrimage tour around the Quiapo area where participants see not only the sights, but also experience the deeper meaning of PAKIKIPAGKAPWA (relationship) and its symbolic meaning – that in life we are all into a common journey. The description of Ileto, a well known Filipino scholar, about the lakaran aptly fits this pilgrimage tour – “. . . a journey – an event ….”

San Sebastian Church

San Sebastian Basilica is our first stop-over for the tour, The basilica is also known as National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Completed in 1891, San Sebastian Church is noted for its architectural features . This is an example of the revival of Gothic architecture revival  in the Philippines,and an example of an all steel church in Asia  and claimed as the only prefabricated steel church in the world. It was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1973. In 2006, San Sebastian Church was included in the tentative list for possible designation as a World Heritage site .

Rust is evident in every parts of the basilica, even minor paint job is insufficient to cover the rust.

L-R Mr. Stephen Pamorada, Mr. Allan Pardilla  Martinez, Mark John Dañas , Ms. Cez  Boñales- Rosqueta and Mr. Charles Boris Mañez

Iturralde house

The house is located in 730 San Sebastian St. barangay 390 zone 40 just behind the San Sebastian Church. The house second floor balcony area had a flag pole , where the flag of Monaco is hoisted when the Honorary Consulate of Monaco ( Mr. Iturralde )held their office within the premises in the 1950’s to late 1960’s . Inside this house, it had a photo of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly that were hung on a prominent spot .


 Now , it is home and a business address of Ms. Pilar S. Iturralde ( real estate ) , one of the descendants of the clan. In front of the house there is a small sari-sari store . It had also some big trees and plants .  The magnificent fence grill works were covered by galvanized sheets maybe to cover the grounds and house from prying public’s view . The current honorary consulate office/ residence of Monaco to the Philippines is not aware of the official tenure of Mr. Iturralde and quite hesitant to give accurate information or they really do not have records ( Mr. Iturralde ‘s tenure) when some freelance writers contacted their office/ residence .


old house with nice grill works located along Bilibid Viejo street

a door  with the art nouveau styled grilled -works on a sampaguita flower.

The grill works is very similar with Bahay Nakpil-Bautista a few block away , I was just wondering if the architect is the same and the supplier of the iron grills are same company.

  ocampo pagoda and garden

Ocampo Pagoda and Garden – This pagoda-like structure dominating the skyline of a residential district in Quiapo was constructed in 1935, a time when the huge area surrounding it was part of a vast estate of Don Jose Mariano Ocampo.

 ocampo compound signage

He is a lawyer by profession had an investment brokerage and a  real estate company . The estate is quite large occupying about 1 hectare  which encompasses 6 to 8 blocks .  Most of the material used in the construction process were made from high quality materials .

ocampo pagoda circa 1940

Fascination with Japanese Culture 

The pagoda was built to adorn his garden and at same time to house his realty firm. However, with its completion in 1939, World War II broke out and the structure was used as an air raid shelter for the surrounding community.

shachihoko or shachi  lucky dragon face with koi-like fish carved and situated on entrance or sides of the building

It is a mythical creature in Japanese folklore   with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp . It was believed that this animal could cause the rain to fall, and as such, temples and castles were often adorned with roof ornaments ( shibi ).

photo from Ms. Justine Danielle and  Mark John Dañas

These fish-shaped ornaments are placed at both ends of the main roof ridge, with the male Shachi placed on the left and the female Shachi on the right .The creatures are thought to provide protection against fire, as they are attributed with the power to control rain and even protection of the family. The roof tiles bore the family name .

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The owner is fascinated with anything that is oriental and Japanese hence , he was able to create a Japanese style home, architecture and garden within his vast compound.

japanese inspired -garden

The garden is also big, I estimate that it used to cover between 500 to 1,000 square- meter complete with Japanese styled manicured garden complete with a koi pond , cemented plant pots , sculpture, cement bridge  and other fixtures. The pagoda took some beatings during the August 2, 1968 Casiguran earthquake when parts of Manila took heavy shaking, parts of the roofs and some structure had collapsed , While the family car was severely damage , the family driver miraculously was saved from the earthquake. Another earthquake on July 16, 1990 also destroyed some of the roof tiles and gradually weaken some of the structure .


References: Osome, S., Osawa, Y., Skinner, I., Yoshima, and Y., PHILIPPINES: Luzon Earthquake of August 02, 1968, UNESCO, Serial No. 977/BMS. RD/SCE. NR, Paris, January 1969.

Southeast Asia Association of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering (SEASEE). Series in Seismology, Volume IV (Philippines), 1985

basketball area

Now,  the area occupies a prominent place in the community as a basketball court and a place to hold some meetings, with very few traces of the garden except with some cement pots and walls which remind residents and tourists of its former grandeur.  The Ocampo pagoda is a dormitory for seafarers and photo opportunities are restricted at the basketball court .  How i wish i could have taken photos years ago when i was able to enter the premises without much hassle.

 cement plant container

A few of the stone statues  can still be found scattered in this residential community, including a Japanese-looking Our Lady of Mount Carmel standing on a globe.  Some residents would attest that the image is miraculous and save countless of lives during the second world war and during a fire which broke into the neighborhood few years ago.

Our Lady of Carmel “Birhen sa Eskinita” due to its location along a narrow alleyway

Later after the war, The descendants sold a portion of the property while some areas were lease out . ( Now the area is called Ocampo compound  ) which is located in baranggay 393 zone 40 district 3 of Manila which is much smaller compared to the pre-war heydays.

Ocampo family statute

It also used to be a popular film location shooting place. We had to squeeze through dozens of houses that were built within the former garden and the compound .

Miss Philippines 1954

 photo :

One of the famous descendant of the clan is 1954 Miss Universe – Philippines . a UST architecture freshman, was the first Filipina to land among the semi-finalists. She was in London as part of her prize for winning the Boys Town Miss Philippines contest when she was asked to represent the country in the  July 24,1954 Miss Universe Pageant held in Long Beach , California , USA. She became an architect and married to Mr. Victor Buencamino whose brother Philip married President Manuel L. Quezon’s daughter Ms. Zenaida/”Nini” (later Avancena—1st husband Philip was ambushed, along with Nini’s mother Dona Aurora and sister Maria Aurora/”Baby”, supposedly by members of the Hukbalahap, in 1949)..  She passed away peacefully on January 7, 2011. She was 75.

Miss Universe 1954 you tube video

Beauty Queen clan

Ms. Pacita ” Ting” Ongsiako delos Reyes

Ms. Bessie comes from a family of beauty queens. Ms. Pacita “Ting” Ongsiako T. de los Reyes (Miss Philippines of the Manila Carnival Queen of 1929), Ms.Yvonne Berenguer de los Reyes (Miss Philippines – Universe 1955) and Ms. Simonette Berenguer de los Reyes (Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 1970) are her cousins. Margarita “Tingting” de los Reyes Cojuangco is another cousin.  They were featured by Ms. Korina Sanchez years-ago .

In 2006, Malacanang appointed Bessie as a commissioner for the EDSA People Power Commission The other commissioners included retired Gen. Honesto Isleta, journalists Belinda Cunanan and Carmen Pedrosa, former DLSU President Rolando Dizon, youth activist Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and columnist Alex Magno. (

Sources: Missosology and Binibining Pilipinas

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