(Part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Manila.)

The Second World War devastated Manila’s landscape. The liberation of the city in February 1945, though successful, razed the once beautiful city to the ground.

Below are historical photos set against contemporary counterparts, relevant to our understanding of Manila’s changing landscape brought about by World War II.


Drag right to view the historical photo; drag left for the contemporary photo.

The main entrance gate of Fort Santiago, Intramuros

Built in June 24, 1571, Fort Santiago is one of the old fortifications of Manila. In 1942, it was utilized by the Japanese to imprison and torture civilians. It was gravely damaged in the Battle of Manila. Restoration started in 1951 under the supervision of the National Parks Development Committee. Currently, the fort is managed by the Intramuros Administration.

Then Monte de Piedad and Savings Bank of Manila Building in Bustos Street, Santa Cruz, Manila, was rebuilt as the Roman R. Santos Building.

The Monte de Piedad and Savings Bank of Manila was established by the Catholic Church and the Spanish colonial government in 1880. In 1945, the building was used by the American Red Cross. In 1955, it was bought by Roman R. Santos and was occupied by the Prudential Bank and Trust. Currently, the building is named Roman R. Santos Building and is occupied by the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

Central United Methodist Church in T.M. Kalaw, Ermita, Manila

Central United Methodist Church was designed by Juan Arellano, and was dedicated for worship on June 12, 1932. The building was ruined after the Battle of Manila. The church was rebuilt in its original site in 1949. Restored to its old grandeur, its decor includes a rendering of da Vinci’s Last Supper carved in Philippine mahogany.

Hopeful souls outside San Agustin Church; the church as it stands today.

Founded by the Agustinians in 1571, San Agustin Church was established as “Iglesia y Convento de San Pablo.” It is the oldest stone church (it was masoned in 1589) in the Philippines. In 1945, hundreds of women and children in Intramuros were held hostage inside the church by Imperial Japanese troops. Some of these hostages were later killed in the Palacio del Gobernador while some were liberated by Filipino and American forces on February 23, 1945. The convent was destroyed and the church was repaired after the war.

The ruins of the Manila Post Office in 1945 and the present-day Post Office building.

Completed in 1926, the Manila Central Post Office building became the center of Philippine postal services and the headquarters of then-Bureau of Posts. The Post Office was destroyed during the battle for the liberation of Manila. The building was rebuilt in 1946.


University of Santo Tomas

ust internment camp

Glimpse of Past—The University of Santo Tomas today, superimposed with a photo of hopeful American internees in the campus-turned-internment camp during the battle for the liberation of Manila in 1945.


The University of Santo Tomas Main Building at present, with a slice of its past: a superimposed photo of the rescued and liberated American internees on February 3, 1945, during the month-long battle for the liberation of Manila.

Legarda Street


Then and now: The present day Legarda Street, crossed by vehicles of today, relives its past with the juxtaposition of a photo of Japanese soldiers crossing Legarda in 1945.

Pateros Church

American soldiers and guerrillas eating ice cream Pateros church

Present-day Pateros Church relives its past with a juxtaposed photo of American soldiers and guerrillas eating ice cream together with Filipino children.

Pasig River

soldiers crossing the pasig river

The free city of Manila today reviews its history with the superimposed photo of Filipino-American soldiers crossing the Pasig River during the 1945 battle for liberation.

Nelson Field


Nielson Field during the Battle of Manila superimposed on the current landscape of present-day Makati City.

Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace

Kalayaan Hall

Malacañan Palace’s Kalayaan Hall juxtaposed with the photo taken during its liberation on February 3, 1945.

Kalayaan Hall_photo tank

The Kalayaan Hall juxtaposed with a photo of a tank and Filipino-American troops during its liberation on February, 1945.


Legislative Building (now National Museum of the Philippines)

Legislative Building

Colorized photo of the ruins of the Legislative Building (present-day National Museum); one of the last Japanese holdouts during the battle for the liberation of Manila, 1945. The Legislative Building was liberated on February 28, 1945.

Malacañan Palace

Malacañan Palace

Malacañan Palace suffered during the Battle of Manila. The colorized photo shows the roof of the balcony overlooking the Pasig River riddled with bullet holes. The Palace was liberated on February 3, 1945.

Avenida Rizal

feb gi on streets

American soldiers walking along Avenida Rizal, Manila (February 1945).

Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas Boulevard)

Feb american soldiers taking cover behind tanks Dewey Blvd.

This colorized photo shows American soldiers taking cover behind tanks and military vehicles along Dewey Boulevard (present-day Roxas Boulevard), 1945.