WINGED SEA LION: This is my ongoing research project on our national and colonial symbols as heraldry artist of the Republic and Presidential coats of arms/seals/flags. I believe this would be good information for our tourist guide friends in Intramuros and adjacent areas and to those interested in Spanish Colonial history.
One can surely miss nitpicking the bronze plaque on the pillar of the Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Andres de Urdaneta monument in Intramuros containing a barely visible WINGED SEA LION. This heraldic figure has not been written about in our national symbolic vocabulary because it is not widely used. I believe this is the first instance of its representation locally.
Tracing its source I found some pictures from my 2004 trip to Paris: Fontaine Saint-Michel located in Place Saint-Michel in the 5th arrondissement. The fountain carries two WINGED SEA LION fonts that have been described as ‘dragons’.
The winged dragon fonts are clearly sea lions with serpentine or dragon-like tails. In heraldic vernacular a creature which is partly fish like the sea lion has been described as half-serpent or half-dragon. This is not withstanding the description given by King Philip II of Spain of the Ultramar Sea Lion of Manila as half-lion and half-dolphin. Half-dolphin is not the mammalian kind but the Greco-Roman interpretation which is half-fish. Dolphins had been revered by the ancients and are sacred to Apollo. And the god Apollo was the personal impressa of King Philip II according to the book, The Mirror of the Gods, Classical Mythology in Renaissance Art by Malcolm Bull.
In Medieval lore, a WINGED LION is symbol of Victory and Resurrection. Hence in most probability it was used as ornamental fonts to complement St. Michael the Archangel the leader of the Heavenly Host against Satan. But in this case has been transformed into half aquatic creatures per requirements on fountain designs in the style of the Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The WINGED SEA LION in the Legazpi-Urdaneta Monument in Intramuros is one exciting rediscovery. It complements the dichotomous cross and sword drama that played in our 300-year history with Spain.
UPDATE: According to National Museum Director Jeremy Barns there are “winged creatures atop the posts of the Malacanang’s Kalayaan Hall walls”