October 6, 2014 was a national holiday for everyone but for me and my friends/officemates Fats, Charmaine, and Wendy, it was Philippine History Appreciation Day! Call it nerdy but we wanted to take a breather from work and spend our holiday touring Intramuros, the walled-city fortress and the “historic core” of Manila. Intramuros is known as the “Walled City”, because the Spanish colonial government constructed walls around the place in the 1500s to protect it against foreign invaders.
I’ve been here during school trips when I was a kid, but then again (and I always say this), it’s different when you see an old place with more grown-up eyes. There’s always something new to learn and discover. Here’s why you should consider revisiting and exploring Intramuros, based on the little field trip that we had:
1) Much of our history can be learned by touring the Walled City in one day, thanks to amazingly competent and knowledgeable tour guides. When you visit Intramuros, I suggest that you avail of a guided tour in order for you to appreciate the place better. We chose Old Manila Walks to tour us around the city and we don’t regret it!
Our tour guide, Anson Yu, is very passionate about Manila and fed us with new information and interesting stories about our rich history.
Anson took us to the original site of the Ateneo where our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, spent his days as a student. Charmaine was coincidentally wearing her Ateneo shirt.
Does the name Miguel Lopez de Legazpi ring a bell? I remember him from history books in grade school but I never really got to appreciate who he was. Yes, I knew that he was a Spanish navigator, but during our tour (thanks to Anson) I found out that he played an integral role in the development of our country in the early years. I won’t divulge much (you have to take the tour!) , but he was indeed an admirable person, that’s why there’s a shrine in the San Agustin Church dedicated to him.
This was taken outside Casa Manila, a replica of an ilustrado house during the Spanish era. We got a feel of how the ilustrados lived during that time (Anson says it was sort of similar to Downton Abbey) . No pictures were allowed inside the house, unfortunately.
Us girls with Anson, our tour guide. Anson is such a nerd and we’re so glad to have learned so much from him! Please visit the Old Manila Walks website at http://www.oldmanilawalks.com to book your tour!
2) You’ll get to visit one of the six UNESCO Heritage Sites in the Philippines, the 400-year old San Agustin Church.
I didn’t know much about San Agustin Church before — I only knew it as the place where my parents got married. Inside this church are artifacts from the early years of Catholicism, the very foundation of our culture as a Filipino people.
This church is massive and majestic. Its medieval atmosphere will make you feel the grandness (i.e., influence, power, and position) of the Catholic Church during the Spanish golden era.
Museum halls. Too bad we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the museum rooms.
This church dome is located right above the staircase that leads to the museum.
San Agustin courtyard. Just beautiful.
3) Beautiful structures, hidden gardens, and delicious food!
Black and white
In front of the Manila Cathedral
Want to try something new? Try the sampaguita ice cream for dessert! Yes, it’s ice cream made from sampaguita, our national flower. This can be found in Ilustrado Restaurant. (Photo credit: Wendy Hsieh)
Have you been to Intramuros? What’s your favorite part of the city? Feel free to share in the comment box and have a nice week ahead!
Old Manila Walks: http://www.oldmanilawalks.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
San Agustin Church and Museum: General Luna St., Manila, Metro Manila
Ilustrado Restaurant: 744 General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila