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The streets and sidewalks of Melaka

February 2013


This time last year, the wife and I were on a trip to Malaysia to explore the old city of Melaka. What was once known as Malacca has been under different colonizers from the Portuguese to the Dutch and finally the British. In history we now know that when the Spanish and Portuguese divided this part of Asia between them, the Portuguese got Melaka while the Spanish got Manila. Melaka was important due to the spices that were an important part of trade in Europe at the time. I post below a part of the series on the Melaka trip that I wrote for another blog.
Walking towards the church of St. Francis Xavier from the plaza of Christ Church, the walkways reminded me a lot of similar forms back home in Manila, Cebu and Iloilo. The latter were old cities “founded” during the Spanish era just about the same time Melaka came under Portuguese rule. Much of the designs of course were not from those times but more recent, perhaps when the Philippines was under the United States and Malaysia under Britain. I can only imagine how beautiful our cities could have been if we were careful about development and making an honest effort towards heritage preservation. Similar walkways in many of our cities are now jammed with vendors, beggars and are poorly maintained (e.g., garbage and other dirt or grime everywhere). There is hope, however, as I have seen similar streets in Bacolod City that are clean and pedestrian-friendly. I will feature this in a future post. Meanwhile, the photos below were all taken in Melaka.
View towards the plaza – the red building is part of the Christ Church complex but is now home of the Melaka Post Office
The walkways reminded me of similar forms in Manila, Cebu and Iloilo, all old cities established during the Spanish Period when Melaka was under the rival Portuguese.
The pavement was tiled but well-maintained
Traffic was light so one could get a good shot of the street leading up to the plaza.
The street leading to St. Francis Xavier made me imagine how old cities in the Philippines would have looked like if those cities made an effort to preserve heritage and controlled motor vehicle access to their street.
Some buildings have been converted to restaurants and bars but they retained their nostalgic features and feel.
Melaka made sure their signposts and lamps were designed consistent with the ambiance of the heritage city
Another shot of the seemingly endless walkway beneath the buildings.
After recently going around a similar historic area in Manila and seeing how neglected it has been despite its potential for heritage tourism, I can only imagine what it would take for Manila to revitalize Intramuros to attain something that Melaka has been able to do for its old quarters. Much has been said about our apparent or perceived lack of a sense of history and this seem to extend to how we have not been able to preserve many if not much of the old districts in many of our cities. Sayang!

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