Streets are often used to indicate locations and directions. By remembering the name of a street, we create some sort of landmark in our minds to help us find our way back to it. But the names of streets are not just indicators and landmarks, they also have a history which is often unknown to the people who use them. Have you ever wondered why some streets in the capital city of the Philippines have unusual names like – Pitong Gatang St., Ulilang Kawayan St. and Meisic St. In this article on Unusual Street Names in Manila and Their Origins, we will look into how these names were coined or why the streets are named after certain individuals.
First on our list of Unusual Street Names in Manila and Their Origins, is Meisic St. Old Binondo used to be a bastion of the rich Manila Chinese, “may Intsik”, the term was later on corrupted and became Meisic. Situated in the area is a premier learning institution, Meisic School.
Traffic jams have been one of the city’s problems even in the Spanish colonial period, especially in this area in Binondo. The word “hormiga” is the Spanish word for “ant”, it was used to describe the traffic situation in the area, which can be compared to an “ant’s pace”.
Ulilang Kawayan St.
Ulilang kawayan is the Filipino term for “lone bamboo”. San Lazaro, an old barrio of Paco, was totally destroyed by a big fire except for a lone bamboo, found by the residents after the fire was extinguished.
13 De Agosto St.
August 13 was once a holiday during the American colonial period, known as Occupation Day. This marks the date of the fall of Manila in 1898.
Ang-ngalo was a giant from a tagalog mythology who built mountains to raise the roof of the world. In another legend, the giant used his leg as a bridge to help the people transport bags of salt from one island to another. One unfateful day, Ang-ngalo rested his legs on an ant’s nest. His legs started itching as the people were crossing. To relieve himself he shook his legs, which caused the people carrying salt bags to fall into the sea, which is the reason why the body of water is now salty.
Banaag at Sikat St.
This street in Tondo is named after the serialized novel of Lope K. Santos, “Banaag at Sikat” (From Early Dawn to Full Light”. It was serialized in the newspaper, “Muling Pagsilang” and the book was considered as the “Bible of working class Filipinos”.
Tirso Cruz St.
The street was named after Tirso Cruz to pay tribute to the most popular band leader of the Manila Hotel. Cruz composed a popular song entitled “Mabuhay”. He is also the grandfather of Tirso Cruz III, who became a popular teen star in 1970s.
The posts or “haligi” being referred to in this street name are the ancient wood pillars of the Moro fortifications, built to protect pre-Hispanic Manila. It is believed that the street was built in 1764.
Pitong Gatang St.
Pitongatan was one of the chiefs of Tondo who supported the “conspiracy of the maharlikas”, led by Agustin de Legazpi and Martin Pangan, against Spanish invaders in 1587-1588. The street was popularized in the 1958 hit song “Pitong Gatang” by local country singer, Fred Panopio.
Sunog Apog St.
Sunog Apog is the Filipino term for “burnt lime”. Natives used to burn seashells in this area to make lime, later on used as a binder for constructing stone buildings.
Knowing the origins of the names of these streets may seem irrelevant, but knowing these “little details” can give you an idea how the settlers of these areas lived, what was their livelihood and the condition of the location or how it looked like in the past. This article on the Unusual Street Names in Manila and Their Origins aims to give you a glimpse of the past and the story of each of the streets mentioned above.