the world as I see it

Then and Now – Puerta del Parian

Posted by BCS on October 20, 2008


Puerta del Parian in 1900 - Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan Library (http://www.lib.umich.edu/lit/dlps/)

Puerta del Parian (Photo taken on September 27, 2008)

Puerta del Parian (Photo taken on September 27, 2008)

The gate shown in the photos above is one of the most well-known gates of Intramuros… even today.

I personally have some “fond” memories of this gate as I used to pass through it almost everyday for about two years when I was still in college.

Anyway, according to the Intramuros Administration website, the Puerta del Parian was:

“One of the three main openings of the original 16th century fortifications, it was the official gate of the governor-general after the British occupation. It was named after the Parian de Arroceros, one of the earliest concentrations of Chinese merchants near Intramuros.”

I’ve read some place else that this gate was the only gate through which the Chinese were allowed to pass through.

With regards to its construction, John Foreman F.R.G.S. wrote in his book “The Philippine Islands” (published in 1906) saying that the Parian was demolished by Government order in 1860:

“…but the entrance to the city at that part (constructed in 1782) still retains the name Puerta del Parian”

However, according to John White, in his book “History of a voyage to the China Sea” (published in 1823):

“The sally-ports, or gates of Parian, St. Lucia, Real and Postiga, have handsome arched bridges thrown over the fosse, with piers and arches of hewn stone, which were constructed in the years 1814, 15, and 16.”

So when was it?

If you’ll ask me, considering White’s book being published in 1823, which is just nine years after when he said the Puerta del Parian was built… I think White has a more reliable data.

But (and a big BUT at that), he referred to the districts of Binondo, Tondo, and Santa Cruz collectively as the “Parian”.

So, what does that have to do with this?

I’ve gone through a handful of literature, all of which (except for John White’s book) do not mention about the Parian being located across the Pasig river, on the side opposite to that of the Walled City. Moreover, I’ve come across a few that mentions the Parian as being located in Arroceros (the street where the Central LRT station and the Metropolitan Theater are now located). And considering how the gate got its name, the gate is indeed facing towards THAT direction.

So, I’m right now doubting somewhat what John White has written.

Note on the use of the old photograph:

From the University of Michigan Library website:

“Users are free to cite and link to digital content without asking for permission.

“Users are free to download, copy, and distribute works in the public domain without asking for permission. To determine whether a work is in the public domain, see the section on the public domain of the Copyright & Fair Use site of Stanford University Libraries.”

3 Responses to “Then and Now – Puerta del Parian”

  1. achiemoon said

    At least this is one thing that looks better NOW than BEFORE.

  2. BCS said

    Hi Ach, the recent photo does look cleaner compared to the older one… but that’s probably just because the area surrounding the gate has been turned into some sort of a park (particularly the right side of the gate… not seen on the photo). By the way, the “park” and the surrounding lawns are off-limits to the public, that’s why I wasn’t able to match the view of the old photo… the lawns do seem to be very well kept nowadays. 🙂

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