Intramuros a Must See
Less than an hour away from the hustle and bustle of hectic cities surrounding the capital of the Philippines enters a whole different world. Before knowing the place being referred too, it must be kept in mind that if every nation is like a human body then it must be right to consent that the country’s capital city is its heart. Therefore as it pulses with life, it also pups the same to other parts of the nation body and vice versa. This is especially true about Metro Manila which itself is made up of several smaller cities and a handful of municipalities.
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But this capital, Manila, also has a heart of its own: one entirely surrounded by stone walls, one that had once dictated the country’s destiny for a long time and city which was being referred to is none other than Intramuros. At its peak, Intramuros was where piety was just as powerful as politics. It was not only where colonial Manila’s most prominent colleges, deluxe residences and most respected government offices were located, but also the grandest of churches. In this prime, the Walled City vibrated with vitality, throbbed with so much activity.
Far from a bleeding heart, it had rules the rest of the country mightily, pounding its will on the people. Today, efforts to preserve the Walled City, and revive its illustrious past are stronger than ever. The present generation of Filipinos has come to realize its value as a national heritage as in the days of our forefathers. Keeping this in mind that Intramuros is a priceless treasure that is a must to share with the world which then leads towards the thesis statement of the research Intramuros is the best place to visit in Manila to see the glimpse of the past and its beauty.
This research will be tracked through the means of transportation, places, food, and souvenirs to persuade the tourists on why to tour Intramuros and at the same time to inform them about the details they should know if they choose to tour Intramuros. BODY: Intramuros being considered as Manila’s one of the top tourists spots and a place where most people go relieve themselves with the history of Manila and the whole Philippines is quite big as it was the capital of the Philippines during the Spanish Era.
Therefore the mode of transportation needed to explore the Walled City should be the first thing a tourist should think about. There are many ways to tour around Intramuros and these can either be by walking, by riding a pedicab, by hiring a Kalesa, or by going for a tour program. One of the ways to tour Intramuros is touring by foot which is the cheapest mode of travel and the most tiresome one. However, there are many people who prefer to walk when they are travelling. Therefore it should not be hassle since Intramuros is one of the most pedestrian friendly cities known.
Touring by foot can be such a time consuming way since Intramuros is such a big city and it might take at least four-five hours to complete the wholesome tour. But on the other hand, this type of tour can give a great view of the history of Intramuros and Manila as there would not be anything blocking the eyesight. Hence according to Mr. George, if touring by foot is the option, it is advisable to bring a map of the walled city to plan the best path that can be taken for the tour and it is also advisable to bring an umbrella to avoid being scorched by the midday sun (Personal comm. Nov 3, 2011). The second way to tour Intramuros is by riding a pedicab which is a great alternative of touring Intramuros by foot. Pedicab is a bicycle that has a covered sidecar and operates somewhat like a rickshaw with an attached seat for two passengers. Riding a pedicab allows in-depth touring that’s otherwise seen only in bikes or walking tours therefore it is considered to be an ingenious way of moving inside the Intramuros since the pedicab drivers in Intramuros knows the ins and outs of Intramuros like the palm of their hands.
For tourists, these pedicab drivers already have their route that they follow to tour their clients. Most of them have pamphlets about the tourist spots inside the walled city. Pedicabs can be hired for 100 pesos hour and it can take at least two hours to go and visit the interesting places. Lastly keeping in mind it is one of the Filipinos ways of addressing the need for environmental-friendly transportation (HealthBridge, 2010). The third and one of the best ways to tour Intramuros is hiring a Kalesa.
Kalesa is the Tagalog word for a horse-drawn carriage which came to light in the Philippines during the 18th century by the Spaniards. At that period, this mode of transportation was used only by the nobles and high ranked officials who could afford it. But nowadays Kalesa are rarely used in the streets and are commonly seen in famous tourists’ spots and rural areas. Therefore to bring back the reminiscences on how Spaniards used to travel around Philippines, it is highly recommendable to hire a Kalesa while touring Intramuros depending on the budget.
Kalesa are considered to be more expensive than the pedicabs nevertheless it can accommodate more people depending on their sizes. The price range varies from 350 pesos to 600 pesos for that reason its better to negotiate with the driver/kutchero before starting the tour as some of them rip off their passengers (Ahab, 2010). These kutcheros have a quite outstanding knowledge about Intramuros hence the two hour trip around Intramuros is worth it while riding a Kalesa . The last and final way to tour Intramuros is hiring a tourists or travel agencies that offer touring services inside this walled city.
This is the most expensive of all mode of travelling inside the wall city however there are some benefits to it for instance the tourist guides would be a professional one which can enlighten their tourists with the history of every places in Intramuros thoroughly. This tour program will make the tourists ride on horse drawn carriages which are almost the same as the ones used during Spanish times that are better than the Kalesas plying around the walled city. An example of a tour program is “If These Wall Could Talk” by Carlos Celdran.
This tour program led by Carlos basically uses a carriage that looked like it was owned by a royalty and the exceptional way Carlos tours around the tourists with his narration about the history of Philippines was like watching a theatrical act. This example of tour program lasts for at least three hours maximum with bringing the tourists basically everywhere in Intramuros and costs more than 700 pesos each person (Guevara, 2008). Considering all the options given above regarding transportation, choosing the best mode should come in versatile depending on the budget and time the tourists have.
The main goal for travelling to Intramuros is to enjoy as much as possible with the right transportation guiding the way towards the past and inner beauty of the Walled City. After choosing the right mode of transportation, the places in Intramuros should come into an account to make the tourist wonder what they are about to see. Intramuros is known for its historical destinations therefore with 0. 67 sq. mi. lot size, it is advisable if there will be a well prepared plan to tour Intramuros.
In the preparation to visit the Walled City the following aspects should be considered to make the tour worthwhile and these are as follow: best time of the year to visit Intramuros, operating hours of the places to visit in Intramuros, appropriate things to bring and clothes to wear in touring Intramuros and the most important are the places to visit. There are two seasons in the Philippines which are summer and rainy season therefore to discover Intramuros it is better to think about which season suits the best.
Summer is when the flowers bloom and start of vacation of the students and professionals, it’s a great chance to go unwinding. The advantage of summer is that the sun is up most of the time and during this season the rainy days are rare which is a great chance to visit and appreciate places like the walls with its bastions and ports and also the beauty of the famous churches in the Intramuros, the old Spanish houses like Casa Manila, the Bahay Tsinoy, the monuments and the plazas and the Palacio de Gobernador. But there’s a disadvantage of summer. According to Mr. George (Personal comm. , Nov. , 2011) during summer the sun is at its peak so the temperature is high. Touring with this kind of temperature is not a comfortable idea. Well there’s the counterpart of summer it is the rainy season. In this season the temperature is fresh and cool and the sun is not at its peak. But then rainy days are more frequent during this season. Unfortunately there are places in Intramuros that are easily flooded when it rains. Therefore there are chances of cancelling the tour in Intramuros since the mode of transportation would not be easily available and at the same time some of the well known places may be closed.
Once the season is chosen to visit the Walled City, one must know about the operating hours of the places. According to Mr. George (Personal comm. , Nov. 3, 2011) there are some places in Intramuros that are under construction and renovations and some became restricted places. These constructions and renovations may affect the schedule of the operating hours of these places because some are closed for a while to avoid casualties and provide safety for tourist. Mr. George (Personal comm. , Nov. , 2011) said that the construction and renovations are inside Fort Santiago and some parts of the walls for example near the Pasig River and there are also under going excavations like at the ruins of Intendencia. While these places are under construction and renovation, still there are other places that are open on their normal schedule which is from open from 8 am – 5 pm daily (Philippines-hotels, 2011) and even if Fort Santiago is under construction and renovation there are still places open to public.
Fort Santiago is open from 8 am – 6 pm daily (Javellana, 2011). The appropriate things needed and clothes to wear should also come in consideration before exploring Intramuros. Mr. George (Personal comm.. , Nov. 3, 2011) suggested to bring umbrella and to wear a hat for the heat of the sun and also he suggested wearing a comfortable clothes like maong and t-shirt and maybe Sunday dress because some places have dress code like the church which doesn’t allow shorts inside.
Also bring a bag for souvenirs and for things to be brought upon touring and a bottled water (about, 2011) to prevent dehydration because the temperature is hot in Manila especially at noontime. And the most important is to not forget to bring money for the expenditure while touring Intramuros. Finally when all things are planned and set, the tourists should be enlightened with the places they will or might visit while touring the Walled City to see the beauty of the past. There are a lot of places to choose from for a visit.
Like for example the San Agustin Church which is the oldest church standing in the Philippines, Manila Cathedral which symbolizes the importance of the Church in the Philippines, Fort Santiago where the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal was prisoned and his last steps where seen before execution, Casa Manila which is the museum of the era’s architecture and lifestyle, Bahay Tsinoy, the walls with its bastions and ports, the plazas like Plaza Moriones and Plaza Roma, and the monuments like Monument de Magallanes, monument to King Carlos IV and monument to Simon de Anda ( Javellana, 2003).
So, considering these aspects about places, the tour if well planned would be smooth and most likely fool-proof. Therefore the best plan in touring Intramuros is first to visit during the middle of the rainy season and summer season which starts from October till February to avoid at most possible chance the disadvantage of the two seasons. Also Mr. George (Personal comm. , Nov. 3, 2011) said start the tour during 6 am up until 10 pm or 3 pm onwards to have a more comfortable time while touring inside and if the tour starts as early as possible the more the time can be allotted to explore each and every places.
Secondly, knowing the operation hours can give a hint on how to arrange the places to avoid missing any places that’s included in the plan like for example San Agustin church must come first before Fort Santiago because San Agustin church closes earlier than Fort Santiago. And then bring all the needed things to bring and don’t forget to wear the right clothes as Mr. George (Personal comm. , Nov. 3, 2011) reminded to also avoid missing a place if ever there’s a dress code in it like for example as said earlier the church that has a dress code as to not wear shorts.
And if done considering these three factors then there’s a bigger chance that every possible place in Intramuros can be visited because everything is prepared and there’s no hindrances or any problems at most during the tour. Then touring Intramuros will be much fun and at the same time will unleash the history in the most appropriate and striking manner. Following the exploration of the historical monuments and destinations located inside Intramuros, the tourists are then ready to be acquainted with the food establishments found throughout the Walled City.
One of the most popular food establishments is the sidewalk food establishment which could be found throughout the streets. Some of the sidewalk food establishments that can be found are: The Katunan which can be found at the sides of both LPU, and Mapua, Tiendas Mertaniya which is located in front of Mapua and stretches towards LPU, and last but not the least the qwek-qwek stalls or carts which is found basically everywhere. The ubiquitous activity of selling ready to eat foods, or also called as street foods, is one of the basic daily activity in the busy street of Intramuros.
This activity reflects the Filipino local culture, especially the different roles of men and women in the society. Lighter and easier task are mostly given to women, while more profound and tougher task are given to men. For example, men sell soybean curd, or also known as “taho” in Filipino, which requires them great physical strength and stamina to carry their merchandise while women stay inside sidewalk food establishments, to cook, serve the costumers, and wash their wares (Weightman, 2010).
The meal, snacks and refreshments served on the streets of Intramuros, provide for a wide variety of costumers’ tastes and range from traditional recipes. There are different and plenty of varieties of ready to eat foods accessible on this sidewalk food establishments which vary from: manioc, chips, eggrolls, and meal of rice with meat, fish, or chicken, along with a side dish served on a plate (Manahan, 2001).
Therefore in the context of rapid urbanization, ready to eat foods or street foods, are becomingly increasing important as both as cheap, and quick meal option to your consumers and these sidewalk food establishments in Intramuros mostly caters students since it complements with the busy life of students but at the same time it can enrich the food quality within the tourists as well. On top of that the price of ready to eat foods or street foods ranges from fifty cents to 80 pesos which is prominently within the budget required.
Though the sidewalk food establishments are quite popular in Intramuros, the restaurants situated in this place should also be taken into account. These restaurants are as follows: Illustrado, Casa Marinero, Barbara’s restaurant and many more. The said restaurants are known in their own perspective. They are designed in a way that can reveal how Spaniards used to dine during the invasion of the Philippines and some are designed to promote the respect of the Christianity religion. In their main dining room, oth families with small children and older women dining “out with the girls” could be seen sharing the family-style portions at tables surrounding a grand piano at which a live pianist plays on Saturdays. Since Filipinos love to eat, sing and be entertained, Intramuros is an opportunity to merge food and entertainment. This can also show the tourist one of the distinctiveness of the Filipinos. Last but not the least, a tour cannot be complete without having the knowledge about the souvenir shops since it is the things bought in these shops that brings back the memories to treasure.
The art galleries, antique shops and souvenir ships in Intramuros are considered to be one of the best souvenir ships in Manila. These souvenir shops are still existing and thriving money-wise because of the tourist influx in this walled city located inside the metro. The three famous souvenir shops located in Intramuros are Papier Tole Shop, Silahis Arts and Artifacts, and Mananzan Handicrafts. The Papier Tole Shop was established in 1668 as major hub for recycled paper products.
The Spanish era left a very important contribution to the Filipino people by utilizing their artistic talent and skills as it leaves unique masterpieces for the unique paintings in 3D or in watercolour, paper dolls, necklaces and other paper products (Travel Man, 2011). The shop was given the name Papier Tole as the name is signifies an art technique in which part or all image is raised from the surface to give a three dimensional effect which enhances the natural shape of image (The Papier Tole, 2005). The products found in Papier Tole shop are mostly engrossed by the 3D effects on the building art and related works.
Although the ship is now incorporated with other indigenous art, paper products are still the highlights of the souvenir shop. The Papier Tole mostly attracts the tourists but in some instances there are students who take time from their busy schedule to go and visit the souvenir as the price ranges from 5 to 4000 pesos depending on the size of the product. The second souvenir shop to be considered is the Silahis Arts and Artifacts which was established in 1966. This shop is engaged in designing, producing, retailing and exporting the finest of handmade Philippine product. The main concern includes the principles such as indigenous esigns, native resources, and the spirits that have used them in everyday life (Silahis Center, 2003). The products found in this souvenir shop try to create a deeper understanding of the many-faceted heritage of the Philippines and its people through a greater appreciation of their culture and crafts. The price ranges from 10 pesos to around 2500 pesos and it attracts both the tourists and the students. Finally the souvenir shop, Mananzan Handicrafts, opened its doors for the tourists back in 1968 at the basement of Manila Pavilion but now it is located right in the heart of Intramuros.
This souvenir shop welcomes thousands of tourists from all over the world, balikbayans, and local buyers and provides them with the utmost in shopping convenience. According to Mr George, the grace and dignity of the quality of things can be found in this souvenir shop and gives a guarantee that would make the tour in Intramuros worth remembering (Personal Comm. , Nov 3, 2011). The products that are found in this souvenir shop are made by different tribal groups and have a little taste of the Spanish Era. The Mananzan Handicrafts carries extremely wide and interesting selection of Philippines-made products from all over the country.
Therefore not only is the shop a source of unique and affordable souvenirs for tourists, it is also an exhibit of the Filipino’s world-renowned ingenuity and outstanding craftsmanship. The price range varies from 20 pesos to 1500 pesos. It is better not to spend too much money therefore here are few tips to help spend the money wisely in the souvenir shops. First, the souvenir items that are environmental-friendly or products from the recycled materials are the in-thing these days. Therefore items such as native bags, paper mache are few of the many things that should be considered.
Second, items that are affordable should be chosen only if it is unique from this country. Lastly, budget everything before considering the things to by. Keeping this in mind, there is one thing that should be taken whole-heartedly and that is that the souvenirs and merchandize can be bought in very reasonable rate if well thought-out and planned properly. The products found in the souvenir shops of Intramuros are somewhat the replica of what it was like during the Spanish Era. The products are used from recyclable materials and can be bought in reasonable rate.