Many of the old houses in the New Manila district of Quezon City were built during the American occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946), by the wealthy families voiding the congestion of Manila. After World War II (1939-1945), more families moved to Quezon City and the New Manila area, because their homes were devastated by the bombings and arson during the Battle for Manila (3 February to 3 march, 1945). One of those new setters in the New Manila district was the family of Arch. Arturo Mañalac.
Arch. Arturo M. Mañalac (1915-1990) had built a reputation as a designer of Catholic churches, often combining traditional church architecture with modern styles during the mid to latter 20th century. Mañalac was a graduate of the School of Architecture of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), following in the footsteps of his uncle, Antonio Mañalac Toledo (1889-1972). In his travels to the United States, Mañalac was exposed to the Californian mission style of the Mexican-American Catholic expansions in the 1900s. Looking at the simplicity of this genre, Mañalac knew this style would be the best to employ in the humid weather of the Philippines, as well as capture the growing interest in modern architecture, which he had first explored with Art Deco. This Art Deco influence appears in his 1944 Gala-Enriquez House, in the town of Sariaya, Province of Tayabas (now called Quezon Province). This mansion was for the Tayabas Provincial Governor Natalio Enriquez (served 1941–1945), who wanted a modern home compared to his old Neoclassical house.
Before working with the mission style, Arch. Mañalac would experiment on the elements of classical Philippine Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque styles in his church designs. One of his earlier churches was the 1941 Baroque Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, the Project 1 (now Kamuning area) of Pres. Manuel Quezon’s People’s Homesite program. The church was created for the missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD, or Societas Verbi Divini), whose seminary was located in the New Manila. The next church Mañalac would design for the SVD was the 1950 Neo-Romanesque Immaculate Conception Parish, in the Cubao district of Quezon City.
One of the last works Arch. Mañalac did for the SVD priests was the renovation of the aging 1926 Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Espiritu Santo, in 1973, before it was turned over to the diocese of Manila. During the renovation, Mañalac took the discarded marble altar, which was first installed in 1958. Presently, the old altar is in the old dining room of the Mañalac home.
Impressed with Arch. Mañalac’s work, the SVD priests recommended him to the Augustinian Recollects, who in turn commissioned him to design Convento de San Sebastian, also in Sampaloc, Manila. Completed in 1952, the convent was designed in the Neo-Gothic style, to match the architecture of the Basílica Menor de San Sebastián (completed 1891) beside it. Mañalac continued using the Neo-Gothic style in his next project for the Recollects, which was Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary, in Baguio City (1953). And finally the last Neo-Gothic work he did for the Recollects was the redesigning of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish, in Puerto Princesa City, Province of Palawan. The original church as founded in 1872 by the Augustinian Recollect missionary, Saint Ezequiél Moreno y Díaz (1848-1906); and the aging church was redesigned and completed between 1964 to 1970.
Arch. Mañalac was an active member of in the business and architectural communities, and he even became a director of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), as well as held the position president of the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA). However, Mañalac shied from honors and preferred to focus on his Christian devotion, usually in his design for Catholic institutions. Aside from the SVD and the Recollects, Mañalac also designed the Claret School of Quezon City (CSQC) for the CMF (Cordis Mariae Filii or Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) in 1967. Another project of the 1960s was the Our Lady of Chartres Convent of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres (SPC), in Antipolo City, Province of Rizal. The SPC sisters decided to move most of the operations of their Novitiate and Provincial House within the Saint Paul University Quezon City (SPUQC) campus, to give way to the growing student population.
Just to take on these religious projects, Mañalac would often work for other architects; as the construction contractor, along with his brother, Civil Engineer Perfecto Mañalac, with their Mañalac Construction Company. One project that he took on as the contractor was the Carmelite’s 1960 Mount Carmel High School in Balintawak, Quezon City, under Arch. José López. And the largest project was the 1954 reconstruction of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo City, Rizal Province, under Arch. Jose Lorenzo Gómez de Ocampo (1906–1995). In 1977, Mañalac also worked assisting National Artist Arch. Juan Felipe de Jesus Nakpil (1899-1986) in the restoration of the 1725 Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned, in the Santa Ana district of Manila.
Arch. Mañalac’s church designs was honored when he, along with longtime collaborator Arch. Evelio N. Valdés, was asked to create the Catholic Church Pavilion for the 1953 Philippine International Fair; which was held at the Luneta grounds of Manila, from February 1 to April 30. Other displays designed by Philippine architects were the “Gateway to the East” by Arch. Otilio Ocampo Arellano (1916-1981), the Spanish pavilion by Arch. Carlos Eduardo Da Silva (1908-1986), and the U.S. Pavilion by Arch. Carlos Corcuera Arguelles (1917-2008).
With the many religious edifices that Arch. Mañalac designed, it was only with the Franciscan order was he able to explore his interest in the Mission Style of church architecture. To Mañalac, the Mission style was what would best represent the local Franciscans, as they were the propagators of the style in California from 1769 to 1833; and with additional influences of the brief Mission Revival Style of the USA from 1890 to the 1920s. One of his first projects was to rebuild the 1794 Saint Anthony Shrine in Sampaloc, Manila, which was heavily damage in World War II. Mañalac completed the church for the Franciscan Venerable Orden Tercera in 1947, which was then a hybrid of the traditional Baroque and Mission styles. However, Mañalac was able to fully utilize the Mission style in his next project, the construction of the Poor Clares’ Monasterio de Santa Clara along the Marikina-Infanta Highway, in 1950. The original 1621 monastery, Real Monasterio de la Inmaculada Concepción de la Madre de Dios de las Monjas de Sta. Clara (Royal Monastery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God of the Nuns of Sta. Clara), was built in Intramuros, Manila; and destroyed during World War II.
Continuing his relationship with the Franciscan order, Arch. Mañalac would design the 1957 Santa Rita de Cascia Parish, in the Philam Life Homes subdivision, in Quezon City. In the 1970s, the Santuario de San Pedro Bautista, in the San Francisco del Monte district of Quezon City needed to have much of the church torn down for an expansion, and Mañalac changed the 1590 Baroque façade into his favored Mission style. And in 1953, Mañalac worked with Arch. Carlos da Silva, to design the Santuario De San Antonio Parish, in Forbes Park, Makati City.
And when it was time for Arturo and his wife, Laura Jose Mañalac (1918-1985), to build their permanent home, they first erected their home in New Manila’s Balete Drive. Finding the location too small, the couple found a large parcel of land along Sunnyside Drive, just a few meters from E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard, in the New Manila District. In 1956, Arch. Mañalac completed his family home in the same Mission Style he was fond of. In their home of large adobe walls, a spacious courtyard, low roof and clay tiles, the Arturo and Laura raise their three children, and host many grand parties for local and foreign guests. The Mañalac home is also a few meters walk from SVD’s Christ the King Mission Seminary, who have been instrumental to Arturo’s success.
Two years after the death of Laura, Arch. Mañalac sold a portion of the lot which included the old house to the Congregation of The Blessed Sacrament (Societas Sanctissimi Sacramenti or SSS for short), while his children built their own homes on the remaining property. To Mañalac, it would be befitting of his faith that his home goes to servants of God.
The SSS was founded in France in 1856, by Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868), as a reaction to the anti-Church sentiments that were sown by the previous French Revolution. The SSS first arrived in the Philippines in 1957, and established a foundation by 1964. With the purchase of the Mañalac property, the old home became the SSS Provincialate House. Over the years, the SSS had added to the property, constructing the Columbary, the Eucharistic Formation Center and the Eymard Formation Center in the lot. Other SSS institutions around the Philippines are the Blessed Sacrament Novitiate in the Province of Bulacan (est. 1968), the Assumption Parish Davao (est. 1985), the San Vicente Ferrer Quasi-Parish in Taguig City, the St. John Marie Vianney Parish, Brgy. Adorable in the Province of Nueva Ecija, the Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in the Province of Pangasinan, the Holy Family Parish in Tabaco City, the Blessed Sacrament Shrine in Tacloban City, the Nuestra Sra. Virgen Del Rosario Parish in Cagayan De Oro City, and the San Pedro Calungsod Parish in the Province of Surigao del Norte.
Arch. Mañalac’s Catholic devotion extended beyond designing churches and selling of his land to religious congregations, as he was also a devotee to miraculous Our Lady of Solitude Porta Vaga, in the San Roque Parish, Cavite City. The sacred image was said to have appeared in 1667 to a Spanish soldier the day after he witness an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary over the waters of Cañacao Bay, in the Cavite section of Manila Bay. Over the centuries, many people pledged devotion to the sacred image, including the composer of the Philippine National Anthem’s marching score, Julián Felipe (1861-1944), who wrote the musical accompaniment to the hymn “Reina de Cavite” (Queen of Cavite), in 1892. And in 1978, Arturo Mañalac donated a golden crown encrusted with precious stones for the Coronación Canónica (canonical coronation) of the image by the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, in representation of Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately, the icon was stolen in 1984, and although the image was recovered, the crown was never found.
Arturo’s devotion to Our Lady of Solitude Porta Vaga may have been nurtured by his parents, Dr. Antonio (1880-1934) and Maria (1880-1942) Mañalac, who were both from the Province of Cavite. In fact, much of the Mañalac clan have come from the province, as well as the neighboring Southern Tagalog provinces. And the name Mañalac has no natural evolution, which may mean it was created as a Hispanization of a Chinese name, when Governor General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa (1795-1851) decreed in 1849 that all indio (Filipino natives) and sangley (Filipino Chinese and migrants) must take on Spanish surnames from the Catálogo alfabético de apellidos (Alphabetical Catalogue of Surnames), for the purpose of the census and tax collection. One of Arturo’s ancestors was the revolutionary, Faustino Mañalac, who headed the Ilog Pasig council of the Katipunan movement to overthrow the Spanish rule over the Philippines (1565-1898). When the Katipunan was discovered by the Spanish authorities, Faustino was one of those arrested, and he was executed with twelve other revolutionaries on January 11, 1897.
Walking through the Mañalac home and the SSS Provincialate House with the family of Arturo and Laura, it is a privilege to be witness to the influence that Arch. Mañalac has had in Philippine culture and history, through his works. And it is a greater honor to be the one to share this story for the rest of us to remember.
The architectural legacy of Arturo Mañalac has been carried on by his daughter, Antonia Mañalac Hubilla; as well as his grandchildren, Carlos Hubilla and Arturo Antonio Mañalac.