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Amid the grit and grime of downtown Manila, a reminder that this used to be a grand city.
OUR SECRET: A compound in Quiapo where you can see a decrepit building that looks like an ostentatious pagoda, and cool sculptures scattered among the shanties. Known generically as ‘Ocampo Compound’, this property was owned by Don Jose Mariano Ocampo pre-World War II and meant to be the headquarters of his real estate company. It was used as an air raid shelter during the war, but the one-hectare estate has since been divided among his heirs and sold off.
WHY GO: The Ocampo Pagoda is the only remaining structure and now serves as a home for transient seamen. To see the sculptures, many of which are still intact, you need to find your way around what used to be the estate’s sprawling garden which is now dotted with makeshift homes; the friendly residents would even offer to guide you. Don’t let the surroundings scare you, we give this area a 7/10 safety grade.
HOW TO GET THERE: To reach Ocampo Compound, take Quezon Boulevard heading towards University of Santo Tomas, and turn right on ZP De Guzman Street, between G. Puyat and Hidalgo Streets. The nearest landmark is Guzman College.
Photos: Karl Aguilar