For many decades it was known as Plaza Goiti. It is now Plaza Lacson; a tribute for the soccer player at Ateneo de Manila University and amateur boxer who once challenged Ferdinand Marcos to a fistfight and called Ernesto Maceda (who was then a Manila councilor) “so young and so corrupt.”
Arsenio Lacson was supposedly the best mayor the city of Manila ever had. His statue stands tall on a pedestal across the old Roman Santos Building.
To the left of Mayor Lacson’s statue is the LRT Carriedo station. It was there where Henry Sy’s original Shoe Mart once was. A little bit towards the right is Carlos Palanca Street, named after Don Carlos Palanca, a wealthy Chinese trader whose real name was Tan Quien-sien; powerful and influential in Manila during the 1930s. And right off MacArthur Bridge was the popular Clover Theatre; a vaudeville theater where Don Jose Zarah’s Extravaganza and jazz pianist Ping Joaquin entertained many of Manila’s inhabitants. The annex building of City College of Manila now stands on its spot.
The very first school, however, that established itself at Plaza Goiti was Adamson University, but it was originally called Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry. The Philippines’ steady progress towards industrialization during the early thirties demanded people to be trained in technology to man the increasing number of local industries. Inspired by this economic trend, three Greek cousins — Dr. George Lucas Adamson, Alexander Adamson and George Athos Adamson — founded the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry on June 20, 1932. The School, which was set to train young men and women in Industrial Chemistry, was housed at the Paterno Building at Plaza Goiti. It opened on July 1, 1932 with only 42 students. A year later, the population grew to 300, which necessitated its transfer to more spacious quarters.
After the war, Dr. George Lucas Adamson re-opened the school, this time, in the premises of the Vincentian Fathers at San Marcelino Street. In 1964, the University was turned over to the Vincentian Fathers, which signaled the transformation of Adamson University to a Catholic Institution of learning whose vision of education makes it participate in the Catholic Church?s mission of establishing the reign of God in the secular world.
A major banking concern established on June 18, 1951 at Plaza Goiti was Security Bank and Trust Company. It has prospered even in the most trying times, remaining steadfast amidst the economic, political and social upheavals in the country’s history. It has steadily moved with the brisk pace of economic growth that characterized the 1950’s. Three years later, the corporate headquarters moved to Escolta, fittingly at the nation’s pre-eminent business district.
Another interesting, though somewhat morbid piece of trivia I dug up online: Citing its source as Turn of the Century by Gilda Cordeo Fernando and Nick Ricio, DLSU-D Website mentions La Funeraria, the first funeral parlor in the Philippines. It was supposedly established by Carlos March at no. 3 Plaza Goiti. It advertised hermetically-sealed coffins imported directly from Europe, embalming at moderate prices, “French Style Packing” of corpses, and an assortment of epitaphs. La Funeraria sternly warned the public against imitations and assured the public of guaranteed airtight coffins!
The Phelipino Undertaking, a funeral parlor owned by Mr. Feliciano Quiogue, located at Calle Salazar, Trozo No. 2, offered luxurious funeral services consisting of one hearse with four horses, a metallic coffin and four attendants, with two carriages for mourners, all for P85!
The DLSU-D Website also mentioned a John Bancroft Devins who in 1905 wrote that the Spanish Friars collected varying fees for funeral services, depending on what robe they wore for the service and the length of prayers they offered. Every stroke of the church bell announcing the death would cost from tent cents to a dollar (P0.20 to P2). The Funeral itself could be ordinary, solemn or most solemn, with corresponding fees. Burial charges were extra. If the friar went all the way to the grave, it is twice as expensive if he went only half way. If death and funeral fees were not forthcoming, there can be no bells rung, no services held. Dying was expensive even for the poor who paid P30 for burial services!
Finally, this Greco-Roman building — The Roman Santos Building — built by a successful businessman who also founded Prudential Bank.
Dona Marta Rodriguez y Tuason married Don Hilarion Santos. They had two children: Rafaela Santos y Rodriguez who married Vicente Fernandez and Roman Santos y Rodriguez who married Juliana Andres. After the death of Don Hilarion Santos, Dona Marta Rodriguez, viuda de Santos married Don Domingo Carlos.
Roman Santos y Rodriguez was raised as a ward by his first cousin Dona Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez in Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga. Her elder sister, Dona Sabina Sioco de Escaler, lent him the initial capital to purchase his first bamboo “casco” (raft) with which he ferried the dry goods he was buying and selling in various towns.
Don Roman Santos y Rodriguez founded Prudential Bank. The building named after him still stands across from Plaza Goiti.
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