Intramuros: A City Space for Walking Tour

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Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

            This walking trip of mine in Intramuros is my third time around: first, with my foreign friends from Switzerland and the UK, second with my family, third with my close friend Annabel who is having nearly similar trips like roaming inside the Walled City of Intramuros and exploring what is beyond its thick, high walls that is the Old Manila.

            That day of the 1st of June was when that tremendous and unexpected walking tour of Manila took place. Speaking of which, I am referring to the public spaces like parks created for Filipinos to stroll during the weekends provided for families, friends as well as for lovers who seek for cheesy moments. However it is sad to know that these places nowadays are only appreciated by most of the tourists in their tropical walking adventure attire with a la mode hats and all. Going back to the subject, a week ago, Anna and I discussed the itinerary: to meet up somewhere and decided to wander the entire Manila where our feet would take us.

            We connived with the plan, we met at the newly renovated Rizal Park where we had some few moments of picture taking for what? For something to put on our respective FB accounts. After an hour and a half, on our way to Intramuros we passed through the National Museum of the Philippines. It was a pity that we didn't go inside anymore knowing that out time was running out and likewise we almost forgot that walking inside Intramuros was our principal priority. Our trip paves the way to a fact that from the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal situated along Roxas Boulevard side, tourists can
follow the route of Roxas Blvd as the starting point going through the front side of the National Museum along Finance Road, and across that road is the entrance to Intramuros via Round Table.

            As we entered Intramuros on the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila side (University of the City of Manila) traversing the General Luna Street, we saw an edifice that was too Spanish-like that housed the handicraft and souvenir shop. On both sides of the building there had to be wooden tall doors (like that of Hogwartz in the Harry Potter movies) leading to Illustrado Restaurant. From the main entrance down to the open space complex, a high ceiling wowed us that we even took our first pictorial spot that barely consumed our time.

            Traversing the Gen. Luna St.the Red Cross Headquarters sprung   to our awe. Also the intriguing event/function venue Patio Victoria owned by Cristina Gonzales seemed to be present. As we pursued our walking, we were able to see the office of the National Commision for Culture and the Arts and on the opposite side of the building was the disgusting eye sore of the shanties inside the should-be-protected-and-preserved heritage site of Manila, the capital
city; its gateway for guests to explore the diverse, cultural, and wonderful archipelago of the Philippines, I was left in awe watching them sitting, chitchatting, doing nothing, washing their laundry and cooking in front of the "National Commission for Culture and the Arts". While watching these villagers an idea came across my mind, some visitors might ask, "Is this the culture of the Philippines?" I'm neither a socialite nor acting like a socialite, but that sort of view can never ever be acceptable to the eyes of our foreign guests especially to those
whose hobby is criticizing.

            As we passed through that lovely panorama, we felt the presence of a Spanish era while walking on the cobblestoned ground as were approaching San Agustin Church fronting the Plaza San Luis Complex housing the vast array of tourist-related establishments like the Barbara's Cafe and Restaurant. Hotel Intramuros, White Knight Hotel, Casa Blanca, and the famous Filipino colonial-patterned architecture Casa Manila Museum built by the former first lady Imelda Marcos. Seeing that place just instantly gave me a feeling of being a well off member of the society  embracing the world of aristocracy. We were so delighted to know for a fact that for all we knew, that complex was a venue for functions and merely open to those invited guests for a certain inside it. Anna and I laughed out loud of excitement with such a sight to see, we felt the nostalgic Spanish colonial era demonstrated by the facade and architecture. In a more detailed manner,  we considered the Plaza San Luis Complex as an authentic Spanish hacienda emblazoned with narrow alleys like those that I was astonished with in Barcelona and Cadiz. All painted in white, the entire place abruptly dished out a very positive atmosphere. In Barbara's we had coffee that was freshly brewed, authentic Filipino coffee taste and the price? Friendly! As we went further deeper, there we were embraced by the mesmerizing voice of a singer who were performing in the White Knight Hotel Lobby. According to vocalist they perform from morning until late afternoon and another band to replace them after their set. What struck me the most was its very enticing and appetizing promo of pasta and burger eat-all-you-can for Php 280 only. It was such a paradise-like deal for muchers like me.

            We went to visit the San Agustin Church and for our big surprise, we had just found out that the dead body of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was burried on the left wing of the altar. Quite creepy but goodto know.

            From Gen, Luna Street there we turned left to Real St.leading to Santa Lucia Street to walk through the walls of Intramuros along theRoxas Boulevard side. Then the first structure that we witnessed was the Puerta de Santa Lucia, a closed gate connected to the golf course. Atop that gate, there was a mini bastion that we climbed up and WOW! it was really splendid to see the ruins as well as old structures inside the walls like Father Blanco's Garden of San Agustin Church and the ECJ Building which used to be the former site of the Adamson University with
a colonial patterned facade ventured with Star of Daivid details embedded with a magnificent sight of the greens of the Intramuros golf course.

            We ended our walking tour from there and we just missed out loads and loads of sights to see because I guess what we explored was only approximately 30% of the entire complex due to a bad rainy day attack. We were not even able to see the Lights and Sound
Museum, Baluarte de San Diego that used to be the water cistern during the colonization. 

            Lesson learned??? Intramuros opens its arms to every one, not only for the rich ones but also to all people from different walks of life. Though museum entrances are not for free, they only charge a minimal fee. I enjoyed this trip very much and I will forever recommend it to all.

            I can't wait to continue on the second leg of our Intramuros exploration considering that it's not only a public park but a historical site that we Filipinos ought to rediscover and a legacy that must be proud of.
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