The Tiki-Tiki Inventor's Heritage House Is Being Demolished


We've all heard it before, a historical site is in danger of being torn down to make way for new developments in the area. We've seen it happen to the 1930s Capitol Theater, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Makati, the 1940s Carlos Palanca Mansion along Taft Avenue, and the 1936 Meralco Head Office in Manila. And now, another pre-war structure, the Zamora House in Quiapo's historical center, Calle Hidalgo, is in danger of being another heritage site lost to the void.

The rich history of this century-old heritage house in Quiapo

Built sometime in the 1860s and 1870s, the Zamora House is one of the few remaining  Spanish colonial houses along the Quiapo district's Hidalgo Street, which was once teeming with historic structures dating back to the Spanish period. Hidalgo Street has seen its fair share of prolific historical figures and influential Filipino families. It was once one of Manila's most beautiful streets due to the sheer number of Spanish-era houses lining the road. 

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

But the Zamora House, specifically, holds a significant place in history as it was the home and laboratory of pharmacist Manuel A. Zamora (1870-1929), the founder of the vitamin formula tiki-tiki, which is a cure for infantile thiamine deficiency, a.k.a. beriberi. Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) deficiency once claimed countless infants' lives during the American colonial period, but thanks to Zamora's formulation, beriberi is no longer as deadly as it once was. 

Aside from being of pharmaceutical significance, the Zamora House is also an architectural marvel. As one of the last remaining bahay-na-bato establishments in the area with a notable courtyard to boot, it is a key structure in the Quiapo Heritage Zone. Its loss would significantly affect the historical integrity of Hidalgo Street.

Despite its current decrepit state, the Zamora House actually underwent some renovations by none other than National Artist for Architecture Pablo S. Antonio back in 1922. This renovation work by a national artist, the fact that the structure is over 50 years, coupled with its significance in medicine, should be enough to protect the house according to the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 or RA 10066, but as previous demolition instances have shown, things are not quite as clear cut. 

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The Zamora House is currently being dismantled at "an alarming rate"

While the house has been under threat of demolition since 2021, a recent post by the cultural organization Renacimiento Manila raised the alarms as they have seen signs of demolition work ongoing at the Zamora House. According to the social media post, they have seen trucks and workers dismantling the inner structures of the house "at an alarming rate." 

This has prompted conservationists rapidly find ways to save the structure and to call on everyone's awareness and support regarding the heritage site. In a quick exchange with, Renacimiento Manila has confirmed that they are currently in the process of planning and creating programs that will help save the Zamora House, which includes but are not limited to sending notices and letters to political leaders and cultural agencies.

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