The Town Plaza: Then and Now
In 1582, as part of Spanish colonization, a plan called “reduccion,” from the word reducir, which means “to resettle,” was presented by the Franciscan Fr. Juan de Plasencia to the Synod of Manila. The reduccion moved the native population and important religious and government institutions to a resettlement that centers around an open space called a plaza and within the hearing distance of the church bell (bajo de la campana). The central plaza is located infront of the church.
The reduccion system served as civilizing device to easily track the natives’ whereabouts from birth to death. It also facilitated the imposition of tax or tribute. This settlement which was also called poblacion or the barangay in which the church was located, and the distant barangays make up the town or pueblo with the plaza as the center of daily public affairs.
One example of a town plaza is the Plaza Mayor or Plaza Roma inside the Walled City (Intramuros). It was the main public square of the city and the venue for bullfights and other public events during the Spanish period.
Watch the video for a short history of Plaza Roma.
In most of the towns in the Philippines especially in the most of the provinces, the plaza remains to be the center for public affairs. Plaza Roma remains to one of the places where different groups of people from different places congregate inside Intramuros.
However, there are numerous towns and cities that either transferred or built their government offices and business establishments away from the ‘old’ plaza. This rearrangement causes the shift in peoples movements and concentration and ultimately, a decline in people’s awareness of the historic importance the town plaza.
Dumol, Paul Arvisu and Camposano, Clement C. The Nation As Project. A New Reading of Jose Rizal’s Life and Works. Manila: Vibal Group, 2018.
Cagamay, Maria Luisa T. Ancheta, Jopol Alvin C. Bernal, Michael Guiang, Francisco Jayme Paolo A. Malban, Francis Justine M. Ramos II. Dondy Pepito G. Unraveling the Past. Manila: Vibal Group, 2018.