Hello, I’m gonna share with you my awesome experience with the one of the beautiful Philippine heritage which could be found in the heart of Manila.
Intramuros is dubbed as “Walled City”. Intramuros is a Spanish word means “within the wall” and the places outside Intramuros were called extramuros which means “outside the walls”. Intramuros is the original city of Manila where the government of Spain was seated during the Spanish colonization in 16th century.
With my Vietnamese friends, we went to Intramuros in November 29, 2015 to have them toured around Manila. I brought them to other places near Intramuros, but of all the places we’ve been to, Intramuros was the most interesting one for me.
I’ve been there when I was a kid during our educational tour, however, I wasn’t able to appreciate its beauty and everything in it. It was like a normal park for me, since I haven’t heard about the history. Now, I was so excited to revisit the place.
When we got there, I was amazed by its huge walls, and it was like we were somewhere outside the country. According to the history, the walls around the district were made by Spanish government as a defense from Japanese forces, and was greatly damaged during the World War II.
At the entrance, we could see a welcome arc made of bamboo and a ticket booth. Ticket cost 70.00 per person. From the entrance, we were able to see lots of foreigners visiting the same place, and I felt a bit of pride as a Filipino. Two of my Vietnamese friends took a photo with the 6 white men. Little did I know that they were from Spain. I chatted to one of them and I joked “You colonized us” and he just laughed and said “All is history” with a Spanish accent.
During our walk along the pathway from the entrance, I felt like, I traveled back in time and I was there during the Spanish captivity because of the Spanish inspired structures of every building, road, lamp post, landscapes and benches. Guards or “Guardia Civil” (Spanish term for gendarmerie) who wear traditional guardia civil uniform on their duty, and kutsero “Cuchero” (Spanish word for driver) with their gig or “kalesa” in Spanish, added to the feeling.
During our roam, we could see some historical establishments like church, school, and office. The school that we saw was the Mapua Institute of Technology which was founded in 1925, but today, the structure of the campus is kinda modernized. We have seen as well the very famous church of Manila Cathedral or formerly known as Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. (the name was too long). This old church is situated at Plaza de Roma of Intramuros. It was built in 1581 under the ownership of Archdioces of Mexico. I am not Roman Catholic, but I was astounded by its detailed structure. (the church is now airconditioned). The facade of the church will clearly show the Spanish arts and architecture.
We also tried to walk at the top of the wall, and from there, you could see the thickness of the wall and the war canions used by Spaniards to bomb down their opponents. The wall has lots of chambers and dens. (I am not sure what are they for). We met these couple from Estonia who were also enjoying the view of Intramuros from the top. Most probably, they felt at home since they were also from Europe and share some traditions and customs with Spain.
There were lots of historic and ancient establishments in the area which we couldn’t manage to explore due to time limit. Nonetheless, the Palacio del Gobernador is a nice building for me. I could only see this on TV during election period since it is the main office of the Commission on Election.
We finally reached the heart of Intramuros which is the Fort Santiago or “Fuerte de Santiago” in Spanish. It is located few steps away from Palacio del Gobernador. Fort Santiago has its own wall, it is like a citadel located at the center of the district. There is a water formation before the main entrance of the fort. The facade of it was so ancient that will blow your mind. It’s dumbfoundingly beautiful. At the entrance, we could see metal plates of footsteps which are bronze in color. The footsteps are representation of the last walk of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal before his execution at Luneta. During the Spanish regime, there were plenty of lives lost in the prisons of Fort Santiago and most of them were Filipinos. Most of the signage in Fort Santiago were written in Spanish. Since, I know little about Philippine history, I had a bit of a hard time telling the history and rationale to my Vietnamese friends. Nevertheless, I managed to do so.
In that place, you can also visit the museum where Dr. Jose Rizal had his trial before the Spanish judges, and there was also a museum for old furniture or “Muebles” in Spanish, and paintings as well.
There was a place there where you can overlook the city of Manila and the Pasig River. Pasig River is famous not because of its beauty but because of its smell and polluted water. It’s very saddening how some people could manage to lose respect to nature.
When we got out of Fort Santiago, there was this man named Carlos Cedran, who is a famous historian who offers walking tour for both local and foreign tourists in Intramuros. I heard him speaking some Spanish words, but am not that sure if he is a half Spanish or what as he looks like latin or “mestizo”. It seemed some foreign tourists were very pleased with him as he tells them about Philippine history with dramas and a bit of humor. I first saw this man on TV, and now, he is famous in social media like facebook and twitter. Nice seeing you man!
It was such a very historic place. Though, I haven’t became interested with history when I was a student, still I find it very fascinating, and it’s nice to know a bit of history. My friends indeed enjoyed their visit in Manila.