Sometimes we forget how beautiful Quiapo is — home to the San Sebastian Basilica, Quiapo Church, Golden Mosque, and Ocampo Pagoda, all the important landmarks that represent a significant part of the history of the neighborhood, and even the whole of Metro Manila.

San Sebastian Basilica, the only steel church in Asia

The newly launched iDiscover Quiapo App & Map helps locals and tourists navigate the neighborhood and learn all about these untold stories of the past and present.

A true community effort, the iDiscover Quiapo project is developed by San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc., Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista (KKB), Tralulu, and iDiscover. With the help of residents and heritage site owners, 36 sites are selected to showcase the spirit of Quiapo.

“We are proud to be part of this community initiative. For the first time, we map out the historic landmarks and cultural highlights of this beautiful neighborhood. With rapid urban development going on in Manila, it is important to document these stories, they form the foundation of all the preservation work we all do here,” says Tina Paterno, Technical director, San Sebastián Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc.

Boix House

Boix House is on the 2016 World Monuments Fund Watch List

iDiscover Quiapo highlights key heritage sites like the row of surviving heritage houses along F. R. Hidalgo St., once home to the business elite and high society intellectuals, and Boix House, an architectural gem under the 2016 World Monuments Fund Watch List and the headquarters of KKB.

But Quiapo is more than just the sum of its buildings. It’s also about festivals, such as the Traslacion of the Black Nazarene, which is the largest religious procession in the world where millions of devotees make a 15-hour journey through Quiapo; popular locals food spots and family-owned stores that have been managed by different generations, like Master Hopia and Kim Chong Tin; Christmas’ must-have Excelente Ham; and the neighborhood coffee shop that doesn’t even bear a name. iDiscover Quiapo highlights the stories of the places and the people behind them.

Calle San Sebastian in 1969 (Image: Wikimedia)

“Is it Gothic? Japanese? Maranao? Mexican? Filipino pop? Quiapo is all of these and more. It attracts Filipinos from differing persuasions yet offers them space for their creativity,” says Dr. Fernando Nakpil-Zialcita.

iDiscover presents the neighborhood stories in the form of a free app iDiscover Manila, available for download on both iOS and Android, and a printed map designed by local artist Patricia Ferriol, available for pick-up in the neighborhood or online on iDiscover’s website.

Quiapo vicinity map

Quiapo map designed by local artist Patricia Ferriol

Quiapo is the heart of Manila. The heritage site owners and stakeholders of Quiapo are meeting regularly and working together towards the betterment of the area.

“We come across the same story repeatedly in Asia, that historic neighborhoods are at risk, but there are locals who care. We are glad to be part of the Quiapo project working with young and committed groups, and we hope that this will be an important step to the path of revitalizing and rejuvenating this overlooked neighborhood,” says Stephanie Cheung of iDiscover.