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Ortigas Center - Where Everything Began

By: Nathalie Santos – Dayo

Today Ortigas Center is the second most important Business District in the country after Makati City.

The area is about one hundred (100) hectares, located within the boundaries of Pasig City, Quezon City and Mandaluyong.

Tall skyscrapers dot the skyline of Ortigas and it is now a place to go to when you want to relax in three of the biggest malls in Metro Manila, SM Megamall, Robinson’s Galleria and EDSA Shangri-La Mall. There are also several hotels in the area like Astoria Plaza Hotel, The Crowne Plaza, The Manila Hotel Galleria (former Galleria Suites) and EDSA Shangri-La Hotel.

Although in the mid 1980s this was not the case. Ortigas Center was the site for the biggest peaceful revolution, the first in Filipino history that ousted the Marcos regime from power.

Corner of EDSA and Ortigas AvenueCorner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue

This is one of the most historic places in Metro Manila. When it was just a patch of land filled with grass and there were no fly-overs yet, this place witnessed the rebirth of our democracy. A place where millions of Filipinos took their stand against an abusive and tyrannical government and a place where as one voice, the nation cried out for change and brought Corazon Cojuanco-Aquino into power.

Our Lady of Peace Shrine
Our Lady of Peace Shrine

In front of the Robinson’s Galleria Mall, a church was erected called the Our Lady of EDSA (Mary, Queen of Peace).

During the time, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin from inside his car saw the patch of land when Bishop Gabriel Reyes pointed the spot to him (Cardinal Sin).

He then set up some steps for his idea of a memorial structure to thank the Lord and the Blessed Mother for the peaceful EDSA Revolution turn into reality.

The lot owned by the Ortigas and Gokongwei families donated the prime lot where nuns and young men and women formed a human chain, facing tanks and offering flowers to soldiers.

The Shrine is a collaboration of different artists who dedicated their time and talents to complete this symbol of hope.

Three architects took the challenge of the architectural design of the shrine. Preparatory work was laid by National Artist Architect Leandro Locsin, Architect William Coscolluela and Architect Francisco Mañosa.

The structure is topped by a sculpted bronze statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace, made by the late artist Virginia Ty-Navarro.

Flame of Freedom Sculpture
Flame of Freedom Sculpture

Other sculptures can be found around the shrine. National artist Napoleon Abueva made bronze sculptures of the fourteen Stations of the Cross which are found throughout the plaza.

This sculpture called the “Flame of Freedom” depicts three men carrying a cauldron of flame over their shoulders, done by artist Manny Casal

The three men represent the three biggest islands Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Inside the chapel, muted murals painted by fifteen artists from Rizal led by Nemi Miranda, beautifully interprets the four-day peaceful revolution.

The Shrine was completed late November of 1989 and was inaugurated and dedicated formally to God by His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin on December 15, 1989 after some military reformists’ uprising.

EDSA corner Ortigas
EDSA corner Ortigas

The Shrine is accessible from EDSA, the busiest road of the Philippines and the smaller but equally busy Ortigas Avenue.

EDSA is filled with fly-overs which connect several cities including San Juan, Quezon City, Mandaluyong and Pasig.

Another major change was the addition of the MRT Blue line to ease the traffic woes of commuters and private cars alike.

There is also a safer way to cross the street now to reach Robinson’s Galleria and the Shrine, a crosswalk (footbridge) was built by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), following the contours of the fly-overs and the MRT tracks.

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