It seems like cities built walls around them for fortification against invaders and attacks during local uprisings by its own people. China has the famous Great Walls of China. Rome has the Aurelian Walls built between 271 AD and 275 AD in Rome, Italy, during the reign of the Roman Emperors Aurelian and Probus. England had the walled city of Londinium during the Roman times. Quebec had walls surrounding Old Quebec. New York had earthen walls on the northern boundary in the early days of its history which is the reason downtown New York has Wall Street today. Intramuros (a city within walls) was built in Manila in the 16th century by an Spanish explorer, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. 

Intramurous was a medieval European-style walled city laid out as a pentagon but with its uneven sides, it more resembles a triangle. Originally, the seat of the Spanish empire was in Cebu but was later transferred to Manila. Before the walls were fortified, the city was attacked by Lim Ah Hong, a Chinese  trader. They were almost successful. Formerly surrounded by wooden palisades, Intramuros was fortified with massive stone walls after the attack to thwart future attacks from foreign legions and also from Filipinos who were unhappy due to the unjust treatment towards them by the Spaniards. Later on, a moat was added in 1609.

Following Legaspi’s blueprint for the capital, succeeding Spanish governors built imposing churches, chapels, and convents. The most imposing building was the Manila Cathedral, a Romanesque structure constructed of adobe. Inside were statues by Italian artists of various saints that Manileños paid special devotion. Among them were: St. Andrew the Apostle, on whose feast day in 1574, the Spanish repulsed the attack from the Chinese invaders, and St. James the Greater, patron saint of Spain and the Philippines. Another prominent church was San Agustin Church, the only structure in Intramurous not bombed in World War II. The church façade is noted for its combination of styles with Doric lower column and Corinthian upper column with twin towers, one of which became the victim of earthquakes in 1863 and 1889. The main door is carved molave, a Philippine hardwood with panels depicting St. Augustine and his mother.


The Spanish governors also built schools, a hospital, grand government offices, printing press, university, palaces for the governor-general and the archbishop, soldiers’ barracks, and opulent houses for the assorted elite: the Spanish and their mestizo offsprings. Natives were moved to other areas, and immigrant Chinese were required to live outside the walls. The city’s seven gates were closed by drawbridges at night.

Copyright © 2014. By Rosalinda Morgan, author of “BAHALA NA (Come What May) – A WWII Story of Faith, Love, Courage, Determination and Survival”.


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The Second Pearl Harbor

In Manila, ten minutes after the first bomb hit Pearl Harbor, a startled radio operator at Asiatic Fleet headquarters intercepted an unencrypted Morse Code from Adm. Husband Kimmel, the Honolulu-based Pacific Fleet Commander: “AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NO DRILL”. He alerted his duty officer, Marine Lt. Col. William T. Clement, who in turn contacted Admiral Hart who failed to relay the message to anybody. An enlisted army signalman happened to tune in to a California radio station and heard it and immediately told his duty officer who in turn phoned Brigadier Spencer B. Akin, MacArthur Signal Corps chief who went directly to Major Richard Sutherland, MacArthur’s chief of staff who then called MacArthur penthouse atop the Manila Hotel.

MacArthur could not believe it and supposedly exclaimed, “Pearl Harbor! It should be our strongest point.” At 3:40 am, he got a call from Washington, DC confirming the news. Even after the attack was confirmed by Washington, DC., MacArthur for some reason failed to act for five long hours. Maybe it was too much information coming all at the same time but nobody could figure out why the inaction on his part. Maj. Gen. Lewis Brereton, MacArthur’s commander of the air force, wanted to launch an immediate attack on the Japanese airfields on Formosa but did not get an answer until 10:10 A.M. but only to launch a photo reconnaissance of Formosa, in preparation for an air strike which was the first step before an attack by the B-17s the next day. As a result, his aircrew decided to go to chow instead while his planes, eighteen B-17s, assosrted fighters, mostly P-39 Air Cobras and P-40 Tomahawks were parked outside exposed to enemy fire.

Just a few hours later, on the same day Pearl Harbor was attacked, December 8 west of the international dateline, powerful Japanese bombers, stationed in Formosa did a “Second Pearl Harbor” in the Philippines, five thousand miles west of Hawaii. The first Japanese bombs to fall on Philippine soil hit Camp John Hay in Baguio. The Japanese bombers stationed in Taiwan just north of the Philippines bombed Iba airfields destroying all sixteen P-40’s on the ground or about to touch down. They also did great damage to Clark Air Base. Coming in several V-shaped formations, the Japanese pilots was surprised to find the sky clear and rows and rows of planes on the ground. They dropped bomb after bomb on the parked planes.

When the last Japanese planes left Clark and turned toward Formosa, they had destroyed eighteen of the 35 B-17s, along with fifty-three P-40s and thirty other crafts. The Boeng B17 Flying Fortress was a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed in the 1930s for the U.S. Army Air Corps. The P-40 was a fighter/bomber produced by Curtiss Aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s. Half of MacArthur’s air force was gone within the first hour of the war and several men dead. The base was totally destroyed. Tank after tank blew up and flames could be seen as far away as Manila. The Japanese had bombed and strafed the key U.S. air bases on Luzon: Iba, Clark, Nichols, Nielson, Vigan, Rosales, La Union and San Fernando fields.

Not only did the Japanese forces attack Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, they also mounted simultaneous attacks on several American and British targets in the Pacific. The British sent HMS Repulse, a 32,000-ton battle cruiser and HMS Prince of Wales, a 35,000-ton battleship, their two most powerful ships in Asia to defend their territory. The Japanese forces sank them both on Dec. 11 together with the new Commander-in-Chief of the British Far Eastern Fleet, Adm. Sir Thomas Phillips. Landings also started in British Malaya accompanied by air strikes. Another group of Japanese bombers destroyed the British air power in Hongkong. They also attacked two U.S. outposts in the Pacific which most American had never heard of before: Guam and Wake Island. The next day, they landed in Bangkok.

Copyright ©2013 By Rosalinda R Morgan, author of Bahala Na (Come What May): A WWII Story of Love, Faith, Courage, Determination and Survival.  Available in paperback and Kindle at  For more info about Rosalinda R Morgan, visit her website at