Manila’s Intramuros: A City Within Walls– A brief historic background

In some ancient cities in the world, high walls were created to provide protection for their territories and for their people. Such idea was also incorporated by the Spaniards– the longest colonizers of the Philippines–and made a city which is kept within a wall– This creation is called Intramuros.

Map of Intramuros from Wikipedia (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Manila_1851.jpg)

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi is one of the persons who initiated the transfer of the Philippines’ capital from Cebu to Manila. As such, he created a city which is strategically located near the Pasig River– which is the only ingress and egress of water from the lake called Laguna de Bai—Pasig River had also became the passage of various merchants and even military intelligence even before the Spaniards’ 333 years period of colonization since there are tribes ruled by Rajah’s that are already settling near what we call as Intramuros.

From that city, Intramuros which literally translate as a city within a wall. Intra means “within” while muros means “city/cities” became the capital of trade, industry, religion and even military. More importantly it became the seat of the colonial government.

Santa Lucia Gate in Intramuros: One of the entrances. Source (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Santa-lucia-gate-intramuros.jpg)

However, most of the people who live within its walls are the Spaniards themselves and only a minuscule number of Filipinos who were rich and famous during that time are allowed entry. Filipinos are considered 2nd or even 3rd class citizens by the Spaniards, they see Filipinos as savages, so as much as possible they wanted these “low class” people to be outside the city walls, they even lock the walls at night for security– from this discrimination that Filipinos rebelled against them… however, it took the Filipinos 3 centuries before they got tired of the discriminatory character that the Spaniards showed them.

Some Info about Jose Rizal:

Only until the National hero Jose Rizal wrote various novels that definitely strikes down the blatant abuse of the Spaniards to the Filipinos— abuses such as rape of women, discrimination, torture– as well as its utter disregard of the problems in the society during that time–especially corruption and poverty. These subversive novels became the lifeblood of rebels, it became the inspiration for an upcoming massive rebellion. However, these rebellion did not become successful or grand/national in scale until Jose Rizal was executed by the Spaniards– and after that time, the long patience of all Filipinos were shattered into pieces; and it started the nationwide rebellion which made the Spaniards had a difficult time pacifying…

FAST FORWARD….

Intramuros suffered a lot of fires and bombings throughout history. It became a place where a lot of bloodshed happened– from Filipino rebellions during the Spanish era, Philippine American liberation to World War II…

Destruction of Intramuros during WWII. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Manila_Walled_City_Destruction_May_1945.jpg)

However, from all this things that happened, most of its original walls stood ground–and remains of some of the destroyed walls and structures are still there for you to see…

And what is interesting is that some of the structures therein are still intact– the cobbled streets and a Church that lived longer than all of us– a 16th Century Church which survived all of the things that happened during the past— even the bombings during the World War II– this Church is called San Agustin Church– A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the preserved houses in Intramuros/ newly painted/ look at the cobbled streets

Within Intramuros there are a lot of places of interest, Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral and the old residence of the Governor-general (President) during the Spanish era–which is now the head office of Land Bank of the Philippines.

Preserved houses which is now a school

Governor General's residence

How to Get Here?

1. Ride LRT-1 and get off Central Station.

2. Walk towards the City Hall and you will see the entrance/gate to Intramuros

or

1. Ride a taxi! taxi is cheap in the Philippines..

Entrance Fee: No entrance fee in Intramuros itself except museums and Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago — P75.00 for adults, P50-students and children

San Agustin Church Museum — P100.00 for adults

 

 

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Free Talk No. 2: Apologizing for my absences :)

Hi guys!

I’m sorry for my recent absences, I think I owe you some explanation for my unbelievably long “no-post” days.

Before; I decided to create 6 posts a week, leaving only a day without blog post… but recently, it was total chaos.. no post, no everything..  Sorry about that. Here is the ff reasons:

1. I don’t have a proper internet connection. I thought my Samsung GTab will be my official partner in tethering internet to my laptop since unfortunately I ruined my broadband router, however, it doesn’t live up to my expectations 😦

2. last last week is my midterms week so I decided to study— don’t forget I’m still a student 🙂

3. while last week is a busy week for me, I got a lot of assignments and reports 😦

I have series of posts that are long overdue, forgive me for not posting it. However, I promise that i will make sure that it will be posted in this blog sooner.

Sorry for missing out for my 6-posts promise. Starting today, though, I still cannot promise that I will be posting the same magnitude as I did before since my academics is getting much heavier than ever…

and now I’m making a new covenant…

I promise that I will create at least 3 blog posts a week during busy times and will create at least 6 posts a week during “not-busy” times…

🙂 I hope you understand! AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR FOLLOWING MY JOURNEY IN DISCOVERING THIS LOVELY WORLD! STAY WITH ME AND I PROMISE TO CREATE INFORMATIVE BLOG POSTS FOR YOU!

Manila Hotel: Why it should be part of your Manila Itinerary

In my last post, I added Manila Hotel as a place of interest. Not only that there is history embedded on it. The place is also a luxurious place to dine and relax without making your wallet cry that much! 🙂

The preserved Manila Hotel's facade

Well, I already experienced staying in this hotel way back in 2008, it was cool, clean and comfortable—and expensive! 🙂 However, this is not a review for my hotel stay, but an  explanation why this place should be part of your itinerary during your stay in Manila.

Not only that it has a beautiful scenic architecture, it also has a wide spacious lobby, where you can order coffee (which costs (P120.00) or ($2.79USD) and enjoy the surrounding and the feel of being a royalty–err–general. You can also roam around the exact structure where the Generals during the American era walked and danced their hearts out. If you are thinking if there is an entrance fee, nah! there’s none, I already told you that as part of your itinerary, you can just relax your soul and enjoy a cup of coffee here.

So that you can really know the importance of this place, lemme tell you about its history:

BRIEF HISTORY OF MANILA HOTEL:

This hotel was created during the American era in the Philippines. In 1908 when the Americans, leaded by Judge William Howard Taft, wanted to create a city plan for Manila, they also started building this hotel grandly–with high ceilings and 169 rooms.

This place became the hotel for famous individuals and politicians during those times – mind you, it is almost as old as the Malacanang Palace where the Philippine President stays.

While in 1935-1945, General MacArthur and his family made this hotel as their home here in the Philippines, since he was recommissioned in the Philippines as requested by the Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon.

If you don’t know General MacArthur, then here is one brief info about him: he is one of the heroes who helped the Philippines escape the hands of the Japanese. Filipinos love him because he didn’t break his promise when he said “I shall return”.

“He was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the U.S. Army, and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army.” (Wikipedia)

While in December 1941, the Manila Hotel became the command post during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. The Japanese also attacked this place and made the penthouse on fire which unfortunately consumed all the personal belongings and the military library of Gen. MacArthur (Manila Hotel Website)

The Hotel was fixed and restored to its former grandeur and until today, it still stands as one of the heritage sites that the Americans left the Philippines.

NOW: MY YUMMY EXPERIENCE IN THIS HOTEL

So, I decided to go here today (March 10, 2012) to experience again how grand the hotel is and catch a glimpse of history…

I walked through its beautifully decorated lobby. Asked the frontdesk/reception on how much the rates are, and sat on one of the sofa chairs in the lobby while observing the people who passes by 🙂

The Entrance of Manila Hotel... beautiful doors
The elegant lobby of this hotel perfect for making grand entrances!

The reception told me that the price of the rooms are:

1. Superior Deluxe: P7995.00 or 185USD

2. Grand Deluxe: P6995.00 or 162USD — I don’t know why this is a lot cheaper than the Superior one 🙂

3. Sunset/Sunrise Suite: P17343.00 or 403USD

There’s also a pianist who seemingly knows how to play with the piano. Her music is great! I listened to her for 3 minutes then went on to Cafe Ilang-Ilang to have my lunch

Piano in the lobby

Before I arrive in the Cafe Ilang-Ilang you will see the elevators going up to the guest rooms:

The Hotel elevators 🙂 Beautiful Carpet feels like Royalty

Then, I arrive in Cafe Ilang-Ilang: I’m actually pretty scared on how much I will spend for lunch in this very expensive hotel– see, how much I love you, I went there just to check if how much and how yummy the food is 🙂

Cafe Ilang-Ilang in Manila Hotel

I was amazed when I got inside the restaurant! It changed! the last time I went there, I cannot see its beauty, maybe they renovated it; now, its WOW! it is beautiful! an eye-candy! definitely a place of luxury!

After the employee assigned me my table, and she left to get something, I furiously looked for my wallet to check if I still have money to spare! I don’t want the same thing to happen to me when I was inside the MV Logos Hope. 🙂

My neatly arranged table! 🙂 I dined solo, so they took away the other napkin and utensils

Anyway, when the waitress went back, she brought the menu, I flipped the menu in a fast manner and caught myself seriously looking at the prices, and boom! I exhaled in relief–thank God! The prices are not that expensive compared to some hotels!! I hope the waitress didn’t notice me sigh..harhar!. The price ranges from P300.00 to P750.00—thank God!

After, I ordered, the waitress left my menu, so I happily took a pic of it...
Korean Food Menu and Prices in Cafe Ilang-Ilang Manila Hotel
Other entries in Manila Hotel's Cafe Ilang-Ilang

I asked the waitress on what’s their best seller— I was suddenly shocked on what I said since this might make me buy such an expensive steak! Good Lord! But thanks to thee, there is no expensive steak, and the waitress told me that their best sellers are there Korean menu— so, as a Korean food addict– I tried their Bibimbap which costs 330.00 without the 10%service charge.

I was asked to wait for 20 minutes for my order, I told them that it’s alright since I’m not yet “that” hungry and I will roam around the area first and is expecting to be seriously appalled by its mystery.

Anyway, I roamed around the restaurant and caught myself shamelessly taking pictures! Oh Gosh! If I’m not yet a blogger and I’m just a guest, I will be ashamed of myself right at that very moment… Now, I’m asking myself why I’m doing this?? haha..

Empty Table next to me
Other corner in Cafe Ilang-Ilang

Actually, this restaurant is mainly buffet, so, there’s a lot of buffet stops! Which makes me hungry—Now, I can’t wait for my ordered food! If only I have P2000.00 I will try this “full-filling” buffet.

I think this is Sushi Bar 🙂 Yum! I'm getting hungrier!! 🙂

Filipino Food Area in Manila Hotel Cafe Ilang-Ilang. Look at the Lechon! Yum!
I think this is an Italian Counter in Manila Hotel's Cafe Ilang-Ilang
Wines Wines Wines that costs bucks bucks bucks 😦

Now, I went out to see the pool area which is coincidentally near my assigned table. I went out took some pictures and unknowingly staring at the sexy guy swimming out there—JOKE!

The pool in Manila Hotel-- I guess its quite small... 😦
Look at the cute sunbathing chairs in the pool area. I wanna go there but its so hot, it is 12nn so I don't wanna risk getting an accidental tan! haha! 🙂

Anyway, I went back and sat down while comfortably waiting for my food. I didn’t order any drinks…since you know, I’m poor! haha.  Then after a few minutes, they served me soup. And then I asked myself– Oops, is that included in my order? If not, I should not eat it I don’t have the money to pay for it! They should take it away…— I thought like that for 5 actual minutes when I realized maybe its part of my order, so I sipped it and loved it.

The controversial soup 🙂 The picture shows how fatty it is but up close and personal--I didn't notice 🙂

Then the next minute they brought this seemingly small bowl of bibimbap– a mixture of various vegetable, Korean hot sauce and rice. I was like “Only this?” haha, then I started digging in, and they brought a side dish of Kimchi, and other leafy vegetables.

The Yummy Bibimbap! Yum Yum Yum!
The Yummy Food I got 🙂 Love it! 🙂

I was shocked on how heavy the food was! the rice is different than the usual rice or even usual Korean rice! So, I was like having a difficulty breathing because I was really full!

Then, After eating everything–since in Filipino culture, you should eat everything in your plate–since Filipinos believe that if you don’t, you will be punished by God– so, as a Filipino I pushed myself to finish what I ordered–so, there I was… really amazingly full! haha.

The Taste? all I can say that it is delicious! The yummy sauce they added in the bibimbap is indeed first class! It is yummy with a tangy, sweet, sour, spicy taste which is totally different from all the Bibimbap’s I tasted– trust me on this, I tasted a lot of Bibimbap in my life believing that I will have the same beautiful skin of the Koreans when I often eat this Korean delicacy. Anyway, trust me, its yummy! 🙂

Then, I stayed there for awhile asking for refills of water and looking at my GTab and searching the net… I was extremely happy and my mood meter is high as it can be. I’m glad that I’m dining here even though I don’t have more money to spend.

After being chilled to the bones of the ridiculously cold air conditioning they have inside the Cafe, I went out and relieved myself in the comfort room.. then went out the lobby and took some pictures.

Another Restaurant in Manila Hotel. This one is a Chinese Restraurant

By the way, there’s a total of 4 restaurants in this hotel 🙂

Moving more to the right of this restaurant, I found this hall, this is called Fiesta Pavilion, a convention hall of Manila Hotel. The decorations are really beautiful.

Look at how grand the halls near the entrance of Fiesta Pavilion

After getting enough eye-popping scenery, I sat down in one of the chairs and realized that it is also a cafe; since I wanna stay more in the cold and comfortable place, I ordered an ice-cream. The ice cream costs P142.00 or $3.30USD. Although the taste of ice cream doesn’t have a difference to ice creams sold in the grocery, it’s still satisfying.. 🙂

The elegant lobby of this hotel perfect for making grand entrances!

After that, I started loving the chairs where I’m seated and stayed there for almost an hour. then, I went home 🙂

This place is just the right one to visit after going to Intramuros– which is really tiring! After walking a lot in Intramuros I suggest you go here, relax and enjoy the old yet charming vibe of this so called- Manila Hotel.

It is now your time to see grandiosity and history in one place! you will definitely love its interior!

How to get here?

If you are from Intramuros (if you are following my 3-day itinerary) then you can walk (at least 30 minutes walk) or you can ride a taxi (cab fare is only P50-P70 or $1.16 or 1.627USD)

If you are using the LRT then ride until UN station, get off and take a cab 🙂

Contact them here:

website: Manilahotel

Address: One Rizal Park, 0913, Manila, Philippines
Telephone: (63) (2) 527 0011
Fax: (63) (2) 527 5348

Manila, Philippines: Your Itinerary, Budget and Tips

A day trip is enough to see the marvelous wonders of this city… However, I have alternatives..  I always tell my foreign friends that the beauty of the Philippines is on its outskirts.  So what’s in Manila is only few of the good places you can visit in the Philippines…

To learn about the historic background of Manila, Click here. 

Click the links to see my posts about them

.so, anyway, here we go…

Click the links to see my blog posts/ review about that certain place. 🙂 Have fun reading!

1st day – A blast from the past—Manila’s Spanish Heritage

10:00 – 3:30 pm — Go to Intramuros—the “ancient city wall” of Manila, Philippines. It is where the Spanish had their central government and city located centuries ago.

In Intramuros, you won’t only see a wall but some houses preserved with their former Spanish grandeur. You can also see cobbled walkways, which dates for centuries.

You can also see 2 centuries old churches that are really a popular spot for weddings.

The San Agustin Church is one of the churches in Manila that remained intact even after the 2nd world war. Therefore, what you’ll see here is the same one established by the Spanish priests—cool isn’t it? The San Agustin Church has really a nice interior; although the exterior looks simple, the interior is really WOW! This also has its own museum which any antique lovers would want to visit…  Moreover, If you haven’t been to any European castle, the walkways inside the museum will remind you of one. (well, at least it will remind you of European ancient castles).

And also… in San Agustin Museum, whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, you might see the staircase leading to the second floor of the museum spectacular. Well, for HP fans, it looked like the staircases that suddenly moves by themselves (well, that’s how I imagined it to be) :D. For others who aren’t HP fans, you will see a medieval ancient castle-like staircase. It’s amazing. You shouldn’t miss it.

The museum of San Agustin’s entrance fee is  P100..00  for adults and P50.00 for students and children.

Then head towards Casa Manila, it is right beside San Agustin Church. It is a museum that depicts the old life of rich people during the Spanish era. All furniture inside are the original furniture from a house in Binondo during the Spanish time, so it is antique! 😀 The house is a replica of a grand house in Binondo, but the furniture as well as the set up depicts the same house of a rich family during the Spanish times. I thought going here is a waste of time but when I went there just this November 22, 2012, I was actually amazed on how beautiful a house can be! 😀 There is an entrance fee of P75.00 for adults and P50.00 for students and senior citizens.

Another Church within Intramuros is the Manila Cathedral which is controversial enough or is rumored, wherein most, if not all, who held their marriage ceremonies in this church broke up after a few years of marriage 🙂 Anyway, this church has a great façade, much better than the San Agustin but the Interior of San Agustin is way way better. Just don’t miss to see the beautiful stained glasses.

The last place to visit is Fort Santiago, this is the Spanish fortress where armories during the Spanish period was stored. Actually this is the highlight of this trip. This is also where the famous national hero, Jose P. Rizal was put in prison before his execution.

You can also choose to eat in Intramuros… there are a lot of Filipino restaurants that offer mouthwatering food 🙂

Trivia in Fort Santiago: Curious about the iron plated footsteps that you see in Fort Santiago? It depicts the footsteps of the Philippine national hero when he was moved from his prison cell to his execution grounds in Luneta Park.

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm – Have some rest, drink coffee, relax in the posh Manila Hotel. FYI: Manila Hotel is not just your ordinary hotel, it is a heritage site. It is the former residence of the well-known man who said “I shall return” General MacArthur. If you’ve seen a lot of Spanish heritage in the Philippines, now it’s time to see the grandeur the Americans left Manila.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm – Head towards Baywalk, Manila Bay or to Ocean Park (go to the balconies) to enjoy the stunning sunset that Manila is proud of 🙂

6:00 – 8:00 pm – relax and enjoy while walking to the place where our National Hero Rizal was brutally executed by the Spaniards. They also have a newly built fountain that will totally amaze you 🙂

I guess you are really exhausted during this time, so allow yourself to rest

2nd Day—You want shopping but no budget? It’s okay, the bargains in your next destination is indeed a steal! 😀 Divisoria’s 168 mall! But be careful of your belongings there are a lot of thieves out this busy place!

Trivia: Divisoria is located in the China Town area of Manila. A lot of Chinese still lives there. And I selfishly proclaimed Divisoria as the little Bangkok of the Philippines. Why? Because of the crazy shopping!! 😀

Alternative:

2nd day—Corregidor Island—yeah, I know this shouldn’t be part of your Manila field trip since it is nowhere located in Manila, but this place is only 45 minutes by boat/ferry from Manila. and I highly recommend going here if you want to delve more on the history of the Philippines….

It is where a lot of ruins, guns, ghosts, and tunnels are located. It is a fortress so a lot of people died there regardless of nationality—Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, American— they all died by protecting their own countries’ interests.

Trivia: Well, the ruins looks like “well, somehow looks like” the ruins of Parthenon of Greece.

3rd day – Mall Hopping

9:00- 10:00 am — Visit the Cultural Center of the Philippines, take some pictures and enjoy the cool architecture created by one of the greatest artists in the Philippines, you can also visit the nearby Harbour Square– a gimmick place which has a nice view of Manila Bay.

The time frame can be changed/adjusted for your departure 🙂

10:00 – 3:00 pm: Go to the largest mall in the Philippines, the 6th largest mall in Asia—the Mall of Asia. Basically, it is a big mall where you can watch movies and party all night—this is the best place to go if you want to escape the frying weather in Manila

3:00 pm – whatever time you want – Head towards Makati and enjoy the little Singapore of the Philippines. Dine, Party and Mall-Hop. Whatever you want, you can do there! Head to Greenbelt 3,4,5 then the Ayala Triangle

TRANSPORTATION:

If you love adventure, you can ride the jeepneys, trains (LRT or MRT) or take the cab. The most convenient are the taxis/cabs since they are not that expensive in the Philippines.

Taxis in the Philippines starts at 40.00 pesos flag down rate and will add 2.70 afterwards.

Just a thought: the places in the 1st day itinerary is really Fare-friendly, they are close to each other, so if you want more adventure, you can just walk towards those places but it will  take you some 10-30 minutes of your travel time 🙂

I will add more places to visit here as soon as I can visit some places worthy of your time and money 🙂 By the way, I didn’t add photos because it will spoil your yearning for the places stated above… I will write about each and every single places in this itinerary, don’t forget to stay with me!

BUDGET:

1st day Itinerary: Intramuros, manila Hotel and Luneta

Transportation Costs: Maximum of P300.00 per person for the whole trip

Entrance Fees:  P250.00 for the whole day

  1. San Agustin Museum: P100.00 adults, P50.00 child, students and  senior citizens.
  2. Casa Manila: P75.00 adults, P50.00 child, students and senior citizens
  3. Fort Santiago: P75.00 adults, P50.00 child, students and senior citizens
  4. Manila Hotel and Luneta are free!
  5. Ocean Park: It’s free if you just wanna see the sunset 🙂 Just walk towards the mall not the aquarium

2nd DAY itinerary

1st option: 168 Mall –> P10.00 jeep from taft avenue towards Divisoria, so P10.00 per way (P20.00+2,000++ shopping money)

2nd option: P1500.00 for a day tour in Corregidor Island

3rd Day Itinerary

Mostly transportation costs: for taxi rides: P500.00 but you can opt to use the train P250.00 for transpo costs. 😀

TIPS while traveling in Manila:

  1. Wear comfortable, summer type of clothing. Philippines is hot all the time, so leave your thick jackets at home or else you’ll be sweating a lot.
  2. Bring umbrella especially if you are touring Intramuros, it is really hot so at least there’s something that will protect you from the sun
  3. Always make sure that taxi meter is on while riding a taxi, since taxi drivers in the Philippines love foreigners, because they usually ask more money from them 😀
  4. Always keep watch of your belongings, Manila is not as safe as other countries, you might be a victim of pickpockets and snatchers, so be careful, alert and be watchful