Manila today is in a flux. Like so many cities around Asia, it desperately attends to its daily needs and its problems while hesitatingly attempting to address the concerns of its future. Regular attention is paid to the basic services of traffic management and garbage collection and the periodic necessity of revenue collection and disbursement by the Manila City Government. Meanwhile, the concerns of work and habitation are attended to, and worried about, by the citizens of the city. For everyone, considered reflection on tomorrow’s larger picture may not always be at the top of everyone’s list since today has more than enough issues that need to be addressed. As this situation maintains itself precisely because of the lack of concern for significant issues of the future, the resources available today to address these future issues are slowly deteriorating. The need to step back and ask, “what is all this for?” has become such a critical issue. What should the fruits of Manila’s progress be for the future? What do we want Manila to be in the future? The answer to these and similar concerns is necessarily rooted in how Manila is understood today. The manner in which the city manifests itself today as an unconscious semiotic reveals the baseline from which conscious decisions are made about the city’s future and the attitudes towards it. The Manila district of Quiapo is here examined to uncover this unconscious understanding and its resultant manifestations. This paper describes a study recently completed which sought to describe both the tangible and intangible Quiapo using the architectural concept of Spirit of Place which was employed as the nexus with which to bind both the description and the identity of the community.