I was invited a few months ago to attend a wedding at San Sebastian Church, one of the grandest cathedral in Manila, and the reception was held at Plaza San Luis’ Casa Blanca.
Plaza San Luis is located at the cobblestoned street of General Luna in Intramuros across the massive San Agustin Church.
Named after an old town in Manila, the complex is composed of nine houses representing different eras of Filipino-Spanish Architecture. This mix represents the lifestyles of the Illustrados or the privileged citizens during the late 19th and early 20th century in the Philippines.
The houses are meticulously crafted replicas of real quarters in Manila situated in a single block; Casa Manila, Casa Urdaneta, Casa Blanca, Los Hidalgos and El Hogar Filipino. As of the moment, only five residences have been erected with the other four to be completed in the future.
Inside the mini villas are restaurants, a cafe, souvenir shops, a museum, a hotel and a venue for events.
Passing the arched portal of the plaza, we were transported back to the Spanish colonial times; rough whitewashed adobe walls line up the arcades, pathways are paved with flagstones, and intricate latticed capiz (mother of pearl) windows rounds up the upper walls of the courtyards. Deep wells, fountains and turrets are also featured along the maze-like passageways. The place has that old-world feel and reminds me so much of Calle Crisologo in the old Spanish town of Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
I have actually passed by this plaza quite a few times before and never did I imagine that its arched gate holds so much inside. The place sprawls inward like a quaint Italian town similar to those I have seen in the movies.
If you have some time to spare and would like to experience what it’s like to be a walking Illustrado during those times when the Americans have not yet landed on the Philippines and the Spaniards still rule the land, have a trip to Plaza San Luis and revisit how it was in Manila during those days. And while you’re at it, why not enjoy a cup of coffee and grab a couple of souvenirs too.
Plaza San Luis Complex
Gen. Luna corner Urdaneta Street