Manila Central Post Office Fire

donvy
3 min readMay 22, 2023

On the banks of the Pasig River, nestled in the heart of historic old Manila town, once stood a sentinel of time and communication — the Manila Central Post Office. A symbol of the city’s resilience and a beacon of its rich history, this neoclassical monument has been more than just a structure of brick and mortar. It has been a silent witness to the stories of millions of Filipinos, each sealed within envelopes it handled, sorted, and dispatched to every corner of the country.

The Manila Central Post Office was the main postal office of Manila and served as the home of the Philippine Postal Corporation​1​. Its roots can be traced back to Act No. 462 of the Philippine Commission on September 15, 1902, which established the Bureau of Posts​2​. Its central location allowed it to be easily accessible from all sides, providing a significant service to the citizens of the Philippines​.

Strategically located by Daniel Burnham, the Manila Central Post Office was designed by Juan M. Arellano and Tomás Mapúa in the neoclassical style, reflecting order and balance. Its construction began in 1926 and was completed in February 1928, despite financial difficulties and delays​4​​5​. The building, with its 16 Ionic pillars and semi-circular wings, was a testament to the grandeur of the times. Its location along the Pasig River was not just for aesthetic reasons, but also for practical ones, allowing for easy water transportation of mails​6​.

Late Sunday night, a massive fire broke out in this historic landmark, with firefighters battling the blaze for over seven hours before it was brought under control​7​. Flames and thick smoke billowed from the windows of the building, leaving behind a charred roof and upper levels of the structure​8​​9​. Declared an “important cultural property” in 2018, the Manila Central Post Office was more than just a building; it was a part of the country’s cultural, artistic, and historical heritage​10​.

The Manila Central Post Office was not just a place where mail was sorted and dispatched. It was the home of the government-run postal service that handled everything from regular mail, parcels to special stamp collections​11​. More than that, it was a touchstone of Filipino life, an institution that connected people across the islands and beyond.

The loss of the Manila Central Post Office is not just the loss of a building but the loss of a piece of our shared history and heritage. Its charred remains serve as a poignant reminder of the impermanence of even the grandest of edifices. Yet, it is in this loss that we also find a reason to remember, to celebrate, and to rebuild. The Manila Central Post Office may be gone, but its legacy will continue to live on in the hearts and memories of the Filipino people.

(Photograph was taken on June 13, 2019, by patrickroque001​. https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Manila_Central_Post_Office,_from_Pasig_River_(Manila%3B_06-13-2019).jpg

The image is in the public domain as per freedom of panorama (FoP) provisions in Philippine copyright law​. The copyright holder of this work has released it under two licenses: the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license, and the GNU Free Documentation License.)

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