How the Manila Central Post Office made its mark in PH history

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — The massive fire that gutted the Manila Central Post Office on May 22 marked another loss of cultural heritage, breaking the hearts of many Filipino historians and art patrons.

Here are some facts about the national landmark, from its tragic fate during World War II to becoming an important cultural property (ICP) of the Philippines.

The architecture

The Manila Central Post Office was built by renowned architects Tomas Mapua, Juan Marcos Arellano, and Ralph Doane in 1926 to house the headquarters of the then-Bureau of Posts and to become the center of Philippine postal services.

The neoclassical structure, considered as the grandest building during its time, is one of Arellano's greatest works alongside the Metropolitan Theatre and the then-Legislative Building which is now the National Museum of Fine Arts.

The central post office features 16 Greco-Roman Iconic pillars and a recessed rectangular attic atop its structure. The iconic building is also one of the landmarks in Manila.

The historical structure was built in the vicinity of Lawton in the middle of Manila for easy transport of mail via the Pasig River. Its location is also accessible to the capital’s main avenues, including Quiapo, Binondo, and Malate.

War and fire

The May 22 fire was not the first that the central post office had to endure. Barely surviving World War II, the architectural icon was one of the casualties in the Battle of Manila in 1945.

During the battle, the Filipinos lost irreplaceable cultural and historical treasures which included government buildings, universities, churches, and artworks.

Most of the damaged buildings during the war were demolished as part of rebuilding Manila, replacing European architecture with early American style. Only a few old buildings, including the Manila Central Post Office, remained intact. It was rebuilt in 1946, retaining most of its original neoclassical design.

Postage stamp collection

The central post office does not only amaze its visitors with its majestic structure. It also takes them down memory lane with significant cultural items housed in the postage stamp collection section.

The central post office also holds an annual "Stamp Bazaar" that features rare and special edition stamps that attract members of the Philippine Stamp Collectors Society and other philatelists.


In 2018, the National Museum declared the Manila Central Post Office building as an "important cultural property."

An ICP is an establishment that has "exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the Philippines." Under the law, an ICP may receive government funding for its protection, conservation and restoration.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Sonny Angara said lawmakers should now work with the Department of Budget and Management in looking for funds for the restoration of the central post office.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts also expressed intention to help rebuild the landmark.

Senators also urged authorities to probe the cause of the fire.

"It is indeed a tragic and heartbreaking incident," Sen. Loren Legarda said. "We must protect our historical sites such as this significant architectural inheritance."

The central post office is not only an important part of the country’s rich history. It has also etched memories in the minds of all the Filipinos who sent and received letters, postcards, and packages from the historic building.