By Jonel B. Rabusa, Shrine Curator II, NHCP – Museo El Deposito       

It was the year 1882. The streets of Manila were filled with festivities. Arches were installed on the bridges of Manila to welcome guests. The sound of civic parades and marching bands filled the air with cadenced music while fireworks lit up the night sky. Amusements, Moro-moros and grand balls were held in different parts of the city. Holy Masses were also offered to give thanks to the wonderful gift given to the Ayuntamiento and its people.  All of this were done in celebration of the inauguration of the Manila Waterworks System and the Primera Fuente (Main Fountain) in honor of the one people considered the “Greatest Benefactor of Manila,” Don Francisco Carriedo y Peredo.

Almost a century prior, in 1733, Don Francisco Carriedo y Peredo donated 10,000 pesos to the Ayuntamiento de Manila (Spanish Manila’s governing body), which was intended for the building of a water system to supply clean freshwater to the city of Manila and its suburbs. It was long in coming before Francisco Carriedo’s bequest finally bore fruit a century later—an elaborate water system plan made by Genaro Palacios provided the capital with a clean source of water.

A series programs from 21 to 25 July 1882 were implemented through a proclamation of the then Governor General Fernando Primo De Rivera y Sobremonte, Marquis of Estrella, which appeared in the Official Gazette on 18 July 1882.  The two highlighted programs were the inauguration of Monte de Piedad y Caja de Ahorros on 21 July, which was on the same day as the birth anniversary of the Queen Regent Maria Cristina, and the inauguration of the Manila Waterworks and Main Fountain on 24 July at the Rotonda de Sampaloc.

The programs per day were announced in greater detail by Manuel Enriquez y Sequera, Marquis of Villacastel and Civil Governor of Manila. The neighborhood of Manila and its suburbs were also asked to adorn their frontyards and illuminate the streets until 10 p.m. from 20 to 25 July, as part of the celebration.

On 21 July, the week-long celebration began with music and merriment throughout the whole city and suburbs. On the same day, the official reception for the inauguration of the Monte de Piedad y Caja de Ahorros was held. The festivity continued from 22 to 23 July as the Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) was also filled with melodies and serenades. Arches were adorned with flowers, and lights illuminated the whole of Manila while fireworks flashed in the darkened skies above the city.  

The inaugural of the waterworks and fountain commenced on 24 July 1882. A civic parade took place with 13 official carriages and floats. Prior to the ceremonial launch, a Holy Mass was celebrated and a luncheon held in a temporary structure built at the residence of Don Lorenzo Rocha. This was located at the opposite side of the very fountain built in honor of Don Francisco Carriedo y Peredo, in the Rotonda de Sampaloc.  Commemorative medals of bronze and silver were issued, along with two gold ones—one of which was laid under the commemorative stone, while the other was awarded to the Carriedo family who was represented by the Conde de Peracolls.

 The day after, alms were given to the poor, hospitals, and churches. Masses were offered for the soul of Francisco Carriedo while gifts were given to infants born during the week-long festivities. Couples were also wedded on the same period.

Perhaps these merriments of Manila’s citizens were justified since the waterworks proved to be a vital necessity as it sustained life for a growing cosmopolitan city struggling with the lack of water and the threat of water-borne epidemics. It was a show of support for the affluent philanthropist who recognized the need for potable water and funded it into fruition.

1. De Mas y Otzet, Francisco, Carriedo Y Sus Obras. Memoria De Las Obras Pias De Los Pobres Y Del Agua, Manila, 1882.
2. Salt, Alexander E., Francisco Y Carriedo, The Philippine Journal of Science Vol 8 No. 3, Manila, June 1913.
3.Ocampo, Ambeth, The Carriedo Water System, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 March 2019, retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/120423/the-carriedo-water-system.