Intramuros: The Story of Old Manila



Intramuros: The Story of Old Manila
by Jose Victor Z. Torres

In this follow up to his National Book Award-winning title Ciudad Murada (2005), Jose Victor Torres once again delves into the storied, complicated history of the “noble and ever loyal” city of Manila, which for centuries was synonymous with Intramuros.

In concise, accessible prose, Torres explores the origins of Manila from a precolonial settlement of wooden palisades ruled over by Tagalog rajas to the majestic colonial capital of the Spanish empire in Asia. Encircled by formidable, complex fortifications that were built over the centuries, Intramuros kept invaders and unwanted residents out, and enclosed those who lived within in a hierarchical, formal, and mannered society where church and state wielded power in tandem to keep the affairs of the colony in order.

Torres then traces the expansion of Manila from within the walls of Intramuros to suburbs like Ermita, Sta. Ana, and Malate during the American regime, when the new colonizers determined to “develop” Intramuros from an antiquated Hispanic enclave to a modern, technologically forward city based on the strict principles of American urban planning. While Intramuros was no longer the political or economic center of the Philippines during the prewar years, its rich, glorious past hung over it like a light veil, imbuing its walls, streets, churches, and houses with a sense of timeless peace and grace. This was all destroyed by the invading Japanese forces and the American liberators who bombed them out of Intramuros during the final cataclysmic months of World War II. 

The author documents the city’s eventual resurrection through careful bureaucratic planning and government funding after the war, culminating in the creation of the Intramuros Administration, which serves as a model agency for the revitalization of heritage sites all over the Philippines. A meticulously written narrative crafted with sincere love for its subject, Intramuros: The Story of Old Manila chronicles a long-gone Manila that, in Torres’ words, remains “a treasure of Philippine history.”


“Prolific and wide-ranging in his interests, Jose Victor Z. Torres is a major contributor to Philippine historiography today. Professionally researched, well-rounded in scope, excellently written, and popularly accessible, Torres’ Intramuros: The Story of Old Manila is thus far the best introduction for general readers to the history of one of Asia’s most historic places, the Walled City of Manila.”

—Resil B. Mojares
National Artist for Literature (2018)


About the author

Jose Victor Z. Torres, PhD is a multi-awarded writer, Palanca award-winning playwright, professor, and essayist. He worked as a researcher for the Intramuros Administration, which paved the way for the publication of Ciudad Murada: A Walk Through Historic Intramuros (2005)—his fifth book and his bestseller. This book also gave him his first National Book Award for Travel Writing in 2005. Apart from writing books about Intramuros—his second home—he devoted his time editing books and contributing articles on drama and history. At present, he teaches the Rizal course and Philippine history at the De La Salle University in Manila, where he also serves as associate director for Drama and History at its Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center. For his contribution to historic and cultural literature, he was recognized as an outstanding graduate school alumnus in the field of history during the 75th founding anniversary of the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School. In 2017, he won his second National Book Award for the Essays in English category for his book, To the Person Sitting in Darkness and Other Footnotes of Our Past. In 2023, he was an awardee of the Distinguished Thomasian Alumni Award given by the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association Inc. and a St. Miguel Febres Cordero Research Awardee from the De La Salle University.

Intramuros: The Story of Old Manila
©2023 [2023],
104 pages: color illustrations (some color); 15.24 x 22.86 cm.
ISBN 978-971-97-0850-6 (hardbound)
ISBN 978-971-97-0851-3 (softbound) 

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