Manila is the capital of the Republic of the Philippines, and the country’s second most populated city. Founded by Spanish conquistadors in the late 16th century on the site of an earlier native settlement, Manila would become the heart of both Spanish and later American rule; a crucial port for the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade network; and the site of one of the most devastating sieges of World War II. It has survived invasions, revolutions, and natural disasters, and though the financial and commercial interests of the metropolis have shifted to neighboring cities, Manila still remains the nation’s revered center.
Manila’s mages are drawn to secrets like flies to rotting fruit. Yet for all their obsessions, they cannot explain why spirits keep flooding into the urban slums, or why the monsoon typhoons answer to Supernal names. The Camara of the Pearl – a nod to the city’s old sobriquet ‘Pearl of the Orient’ – does what it can, but is weighed down by dissension and red tape. Unsurprisingly, most willworkers treat Lex Magica as more suggestion and less law while apostates, Nameless, and wands-for-hire gather in greater numbers. Meanwhile the Pentacle parrots empty promises and emptier alliances struck in better times. As the Seers tighten their grip on the metropolis’ 13 million souls, it is left to the daring and defiant to chart the Pearl’s future.
Crown and Cross
Manila’s Awakened – ‘Mulat’ in Filipino – had long practiced their fragile miracles alongside forgotten sultans and rajas. When Spanish conquistadors claimed the region for crown and cross in 1570, the Mulat persisted beneath the veil of Catholicism. By the twilight of empire three hundred years later, local mages had formed secret guilds, Catholic devotional cults, and other hidden societies called cofradias. The Mysteries they pursued took them across colonial Manila, a city steeped in European sophistication, Oriental mysticism, and native superstition. And as they grew in power, the Mulat sought to imitate the magical councils of Madrid and Paris – efforts that would prove fruitless. The Pearl was too divided, too tribal in thinking. They could never unite long enough to defeat their enemies greatest of which was the Paternoster, a Seer Ministry within the Catholic Church.
Fires of War
In 1898 Spain sold the Philippines to the United States, starting a new chapter for both Filipinos and Mulat. Many cofradias finally joined the worldwide Diamante orders, and with the aid of the American Silver Ladder, they finally established a permanent Consilium called the Camara. For two decades, the council would be the voice of the Diamante until its dissolution in 1942 when Japanese imperial forces seized the city. In the chaos that followed, the Praetorian Ministry installed its own puppet Hierarch, and launched a reign of terror across the Pearl. Manila would be liberated near the end of World War II, but at a terrible cost: An estimated 100,000 civilians perished during the catastrophic Battle of Manila, and many parts of the city dating back to Spanish times were utterly destroyed.
El Pentaculo de Manila
A long and bitter truce followed as both confradia and Seer mages sought to rebuild their lives. Many Sancta and arcane relics were lost during the war, and whole Proximi Dynasties were extinguished. Worse, Paradox wrought by desperate Mulat had unleashed the Abyss into the city. The post-war years would also witness new beginnings such as the birth of Manila’s Free Council, the Sangguniang Malaya. Despite initial distrust between Libertines and the cofradias, both sects would repeatedly work together to oppose the Seers. In 1953, the revived Camara would declare their united front the Pentacle (El Pentaculo de Manila) or as it would referred in Tagalog as ‘Ang Alyansang Tala’.
The Marcos Years
Starting in the 1960s, Manila became the backdrop to the dangerous clash of ideologies represented by the Marcos dictatorship and the threat of communism. Agents of the Hegemony would thrive on these fears, and use the regime to brutally enforce the Lie. Once more, Mulat would suffer under the oppressive rule of the Seers yet even the tyranny had its limits: Betrayals and purges within the Hegemony ultimately sealed its fate, while the Tala fostered the growing calls for democracy. When the historic People Power Revolution finally swept away the regime in 1986, théarchs and Libertines marched alongside Sleepers on the streets of Manila.
The Modern Pearl
Today, Mulat search for signs of the Supernal in a Fallen World fast filling up with call centers and shopping malls, skyscrapers and slums. Manila’s current Hierarch Infante desperately tried to stem the tide of Pancryptia. As his obsessions devour him, the Camara finds itself stretched too thinly: The five great cofradias jostle for resources and influence even as the presence of dangerous new spirits grows. Distracted, the Tala has no united response against the Ministry of Mammon, and its overtures of wealth and false prosperity in the new age.