History of Intramuros
For almost four centuries, the Walled City of Intramuros was the seat of Spanish colonial rule in the East and was the center of commerce, education, government and religion. With World War II, however, Intramuros lost its old grandeur and glory.
The post-war years were witness to the gradual neglect of Intramuros. It became a den of squatters and warehouses. Cargo trucks passed through the old streets, parking their container vans at vacant lots. Weeds and other growth filled the cracks in the walls, leading to further deterioration.
In 1951, Republic Act 597, declared Fort Santiago a national shrine and Intramuros as a historical monument. The law required the use of Spanish architectural designs for constructions in the city. Since there was neither criteria nor definition of what constitutes Spanish architecture, many of the structures built passed themselves off as “Spanish-style.”
Republic Act 1607 declared the Walled City a “commercial, residential and educational district”. This law opened Intramuros to all kinds of structures in complete disregard to historicity. It also ordered the widening of the streets for vehicles.
Other laws saved Intramuros. PD 1277 and 1537 preserved the streets and the walls of Intramuros from destruction and instituted penalties for violations. In 1966, the Intramuros Restoration Committee (IRC) with Education Secretary Alejandro Roces as Chairman, was created under the aegis of the National Historical Commission. This group -- initially tasked to restore the city -- was composed of national and local officials with members from the private sector. With limited government funds and donations, the IRC managed to restore portions of the walls and fortifications, including six of the gates. The Armed Forces Ladies Committee donated funds for the restoration of sections of Fort Santiago.
The government, however, was not satisfied with its restoration policies. In 1972, following a reorganization with the imposition of martial law, Marcos abolished the IRC and handed over the responsibility of restoring Intramuros
Soon the need to have an agency to oversee the preservation, restoration and development of Intramuros, as well as to undertake zoning and urban planning to keep up with the ever-growing modernization of Manila became imperative.
The Intramuros Administration was created by virtue of a Presidential Decree 1616 signed by President Marcos on 10 April 1979, amended by PD 1748 on 10 December 1980. The implementing rules and regulations governing the development of Intramuros were adopted and promulgated on 27 April 1981 .
The office on the 5 th floor, Palacio del Gobernador near the majestic Manila Cathedral, was a brainchild of then Budget Minister Jaime C. Laya and NHI consultant Arch. Felix Emperial, Jr. It was initially placed under the Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS) supervised by then First Lady Imelda Marcos.
Laya became IA’s first administrator. With him came the first policies of restoration, reconstruction, and urban planning of Intramuros. After Laya’s term followed that of businessmen Eustacio Orobia, Jr. and Jose Capistrano, Jr., tourism expert Edda V. Henson, former Manila Councilor Atty. Karlo Butiong, and currently, Dominador Ferrer, Jr. – once the IA business division chief.
IA underwent a dramatic change after the People Power Revolution in 1986. Instead of abolishing IA, President Corazon Aquino retained the agency. With the change of government came a change of thrust. The control of IA was transferred from the defunct MHS to the Office of the President and, eventually, to the Department of Tourism. The Board of Administrators was recognized with the Secretary of Tourism as chairman. The members now included top officials from several government offices that address the environmental, political, infrastructure, and tourism concerns of Intramuros like the Department of Justice, Department of Public Works and Highways, the National Historical Institute and the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation.
Recent years showed that IA has a major dual role to perform; restore Intramuros and promote it as a tourist destination. In so short a time Intramuros grew as a prime urban tour destination in the country.
IA was attached to the Ministry of Human Settlements from 1979 to 1986.
In 1987, it became an attached agency of the Department of Tourism as per Executive Order No. 120-A.