Manila Clock Tower: Classic icon gets a new look

Published June 10, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Faith Argosino

·         During the day, the Manila Clock Tower is viewed for its function — to tell time or to establish one’s location in relation to a destination.

·         When darkness falls, the tower colors that part of the Manila skyline with its lighted facade that distinguishes the structure of the local government unit.

Manila City Hall clock tower turned gold photographed last July 12, 2020. (MANNY LLANES/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Many iconic areas and Instagram-worthy landmarks are found in the country’s capital city, one of them the Manila City Hall clock tower.

The clock tower, known for its neoclassical style of architecture, stands tall along the busy Juan Luna street, near other tourist attractions — the famous centuries-old Intramuros, the Andres Bonifacio  Shrine, the dancing fountains, the recently-restored Met, and the neoclassical Post Office.

During the day, the Manila Clock Tower is viewed by the public for its function — to tell time or to establish one’s location in relation to a destination. When darkness falls, the tower colors that part of the Manila skyline with its lighted facade that distinguishes the structure of the local government unit.

And when the dancing fountains are turned on, the clock tower completes the festive air in that part of the busy street where jeepneys load and unload non-stop.

Designed by Antonio Toledo, the 100-feet high clock tower completed in 1941, is synchronized with the Philippine Standard Time. The tower was built along with the city hall, which holds the offices of the mayor and the city councilors.

Another neoclassical structure also built by Toledo is the Agriculture and Commerce Building in 1940, which stands a few hundred meters from the Manila City Hall.  That is now the National Museum of Natural History which houses 12 galleries that exhibit the rich biological and geological diversity of the Philippines.

In Dec. 2021, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said that on a trip to Washington D.C. the post office with a clock tower there inspired him to plan some innovations for the Manila City Hall.

He said the historic Manila Clock Tower — which is considered the country’s version of London’s Big Ben — underwent some enhancements as part of the local government’s efforts to make it one of the city’s tourist attractions.

Domagoso further disclosed that the city government had designated a spot there for local artists to showcase their works, where they installed information boards with Manila’s history, and built a coffee shop.

With the clock tower’s enhancement, Mayor Isko proposed that it be included in Manila’s tourism package which also lists the Jones Bridge in Binondo, the Manila Zoo in Malate, the Lagusnilad underpass, the Bonifacio Shrine in Ermita, the walled city of Intramuros, and the Mehan Garden in Ermita.

The Manila City Hall clock tower is the largest in the country, with one red-faced clock placed on its three faces. It was rebuilt in 1946 after being destroyed during World War II.

In 2020, the iconic landmark was painted gold to make the tower shine in the daytime and exude a serene aura at night. Meanwhile, a government worker is tasked to regularly check the tower to ensure that all three clocks show the same time.

In the same tower are bells that sound like a grandfather’s clock gong every 12 noon to signal lunch break for the city hall employees.

The clock tower will be fully opened to the public after the completion of the installation of a view deck, Domagoso said in a January statement.

 
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