Near the heart of Manila sits the Lagusnilad Underpass which connects the historic walled city of Intramuros with the Manila City Hall. Having previously been infamous for being dark and crowded, the renovated underpass was refurbished and inaugurated by Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso on August 24, 2020 with a Thomasian touch.
Intending to overhaul the space where thousands of people pass through each day, the Manila City Government and the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) partnered with academic institutions from Manila including the University of Santo Tomas (UST). The UST group was composed of College of Architecture faculty member Ar. Juanito Malaga, and UST alumni John Benedict Fallorina, Sean Patrick Ortiz, and Leon Centeno Tuazon, who assisted in redesigning the Lagusnilad underpass.
According to the Manila Public Information Office, the redevelopment initially commenced in November 2019. Key issues such as flooding, vagrants and security have been addressed with key agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-NCR, Manila City Security Office, and Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila (DTCAM).
The underpass is expected to have a 24/7 security, composed of designated security personnel and CCTV cameras connected to the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) command center. A Manila Interactive Info Desk that will give the public information about the city is installed. “Books from Underground”, a local bookstore that was popular prior to the redesign, was also able to retain its space and will open soon.
Aside from these practical functions, initiatives to preserve Filipino cultural heritage were also included in the form of visual art. Murals depicting significant events, figures, and structures in Philippine history now adorn the walls of the underpass. The artworks were created in collaboration with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Gerilya Artist Collective and were inspired by the works of Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco, the first Thomasian National Artist.