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