Friday, 26 February 2016

Manila Day 1: Intramuros by Cycle Rickshaw

 What's in the Name. What's inside the Wall. 
Intra muros (Latin "Within the walls". Aka Walled City).

Going to Manila without seeing Intramuros is like going to Beijing without visiting the Forbidden City, or my place without seeing Ada's bedroom (it's quite a sight, if you haven't seen a war zone).

city wall gate, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Sign above one of the gate of the walled city

Philippines has 5 UNESCO World Heritage listings, and some sites under the collective title of Baroque Churches of the Philippines, which includes San Augustin Church. It's too bad that Intramuros isn't listed in UNESCO in the same category of historic town such as Malacca in Malaysia, Macau in China, and indeed Vigan Town in the Philippines.

War, natural disasters and simply the passage of time had aged Intramuros considerably. But they aren't as bad as it sounds, you can see the photos and decide for yourself (of course, buildings appear better in photos than in real life. Photography cheats us in travel brochures just as they cheat us in restaurants' menus). Still, it isn't that bad. Trust me, I'm a blogger.

Maybe it's just me, but I find the old conditions add to its charms and authenticity. But it's obviously isn't gonna impress the folks over at UNESCO. Because of WW2 Allies bombing, many of the German heritage churches and cathedrals in German cities are reconstructions. Whenever I come across a very well kept heritage building, I ask myself if it is a replica or a very well restored of an old building. In Intramuros, I was never faced with that question (well, with 1 exception).


 Travel in Pinoy Style 
Our hotel staff suggested that because it was a Sunday, it's good time to go to see Intramuros because of light traffic.

The taxi dropped us of at the entrance to Fort Santiago, one of the pedicab / rickshaw rider approached us, holding up a poster with 3 x 5 photos, explaining that those were places he would show us around on his cycle rickshaw. This isn't the more usual rickshaw that you see in SE Asia where the cycle is in front of (or behind) the carriage. The cycle is attached at the side of the passenger carriage.


cycle rickshaw, Manila, Philippines
Typical cycle rickshaw in Manila with the rider riding next to the passenger(s)

This setup makes a lot of sense if he needs to chat with us. But from a traffic congestion point of view, not so good because it takes more room.

instead of a man, there're rides driven by horses. Doubtless they're far more expensive, but if you're a young couple and prefer the romance of smelling horse-shit and the charm of clickety-clack ride, it's a nice leisurely experience. There's a bucket below the carriage to hold you know what.

horse buggy ride, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Don't push me!  Doesn't seem too romantic...See the bucket?

horse drawn ride, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
With a whole family, maybe this roomy carriage is a good idea.  Can you really see the bucket ?!

We much prefer the rickshaw over the horse ride (I have nothing against manure) because if we were gonna making many stops along the way (which we did), a rickshaw is more convenient to hop on and off like a princely toad. If romance got in the way, horse and carriage (like love and marriage) is the way to go.

It was a sunny day (turned out to be the most sunny day in the whole week while we were in Manila), and the rickshaw provided shades, we were sold.

A charge of ₱300 for ½ hour seems to be the standard fee at the time of our visit.

Below were the places that the driver stopped. Of course, you can tell the driver to stop any time, he's more than happy to do so. The traffic within Intramuros was quiet, and almost exclusively consists of tourists. It's a Sunday, who else would be there anyway? But I've a feeling that it's reasonably quiet even on weekdays.

Itinerary, map, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Numbers indicate places I visited in Intramuros.
(Click to enlarge)

__________________________________________________________


  Entrance to Fort Santiago
We were dropped here by our taxi when we asked him to drive to Intramuros, which is a city, not a site. It was a bit like asking a taxi to drive you to Manila. The taxi driver obviously read our mind.

The gate to Fort Santiago told us that we need to buy ticket to see it. Since were there about 3pm, we decided to see the rest of Intramuros and see Fort Santiago in another day.

signboard, Consulate general of Chile, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
horse ride, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Left:  Consulate General of Chile is nearby


  Max's Restaurant
We were in fact hadn't have lunch. We asked our hotel's staff to suggest Pinoy food nearby, and they recommended Max's Restaurant.

We told the rickshaw rider to return after we finished lunch at Max's, if he wasn't able to find another customer. He did come back half an hour later, and waited for us to finish lunch. Business must have been slow.


  Manila Cathedral
Sunday is more quiet, but major cathedrals tend to have weddings going on. So you may not be able to see the inside of the cathedrals (unless you pose as wedding photographer, and then you can take photos without worry or with impunity).

Plaza Roma and Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
View from Sorianno Ave with Plaza Roma in the foreground and Manila Cathedral in the background
Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


nativity scene, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Hanging nativity scene.
Casa Rocha is facing Plaza Roma


  La Castellana
Our rider stopped here and insisted we should visit this place. His order is our command. So we obeyed.

I don't know if this is a building with history that had been renovated, or simply a new building. Its Spanish architecture is nice. As far as I can see, this is a business premise cater for wedding reception.


La Castellana, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

La Castellana, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

lobby, La Castellana, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines courtyard, La Castellana, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines dining room, La Castellana, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines



  Kaisa Angelo King Heritage Centre
This building - Kaisa Angelo King Heritage Centre - houses the Bahay Tsinoy (literally Chinese Filipino House). We didn't visit the museum because we just want a grand tour of Intramuros today. We left it for another day (I hope I have the opportunity).

bahay Tsinoy, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Location of Bahay Tsinoy

There're more than just Spanish classical architecture in Intramuros. This yellow art-deco building is a case in point. So this would be a building erected around 1920s -1930s. Everyone read my travel articles knows I have a thang for art-deco architecture. It's not the most beautiful of architectural styles, but then beauty is in the eye of this blogger.

I think of art-deco as a masculine form of art-nouveau.


bahay Tsinoy, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
An art-deco building (in the foreground) next to neo-classical Bahay Tsinoy (in the background)


art deco building, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
You can see our ride and guide at the bottom left corner

art deco building, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines art deco building, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines



  Plaza de Santa Isabel (or Saint Isabel's Place)
Most tourists probably aren't as familiar with Plaza de Santa Isabel as Memorare sculpture, which locates in Plaza de Santa Isabel.

memorare, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Memorare - Manila 1945

explanation plaque, memorare, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Explanation for the sculpture


time capsule, memorare, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
You can see this in the back of the pedestal of the sculpture.
Does it contain clocks? Speaking of time, let me mark it on my calendar


  San Augustin Church (Est. 1571)
This year happens to be the 444th years of the establishment of this neo-classical church. As mentioned earlier, this is part of a UNESCO listed site. Its facade can certain do with a good, if not face-lifting, at least a facial.

Since this was a Sunday, churches were either filled with services or weddings. In this case, weddings. I suspect Catholics like to get wedded during Xmas time (or all the time).

san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

interior, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
A wedding ceremony

wooden door, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines wedding ceremony, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines christmas tree, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Given the Chinese influence in this community (not to mention the possibility of Chinese builders and financiers), it's not surprising to see Chinese architectural elements dotting around in this building (if you care to look).

Both sides of the main entrance to the church were guarded by 2 Christian saints, and below their feet are 2 Chinese guardian lions (sometimes called foo dog-lions) as a traditional Chinese fengshui setup that frank the entrances of big public buildings.

Although these lions are slightly differ than those you would encounter in China. They seem to be more playful and less threatening. The lions in China are usually ones where they have their babies and orbs under their feet. In this case, they're playing with its orb and baby (dog-lion with the orb represents power just as it does in the West, and so it indicates male lion. The baby is, of course, with the female lion. These days, we have no idea).

The 3rd Chinese dog-lion can be found at the main entrance for the whole church complex (there should be another one. They come in pair. I didn't look hard. It also possible that it was gone).

sculptures, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines sculptures, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines sculptures, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

pavement, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Some Chinese stone tablets were recycled as pavement stone for the church ground.
I'm not sure if this is a temple's stone head or a tombstone because the bottom half was missing. I think it's a tombstone.

street lamps, san augustin church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
The street lamps outside the church are in the
shapes of Chinese temple bells


  Casa Manila
Our guide dropped us off here and asked us to visit there. I wandered in and took some photos until somebody came around and asked me if I got a ticket. I left. I was happy with a few photos that I took. As I said, today my goal is a glimpse of Intramuros. And I didn't have time to stay in any one place for too long.

I was here about 5pm and it seemed dark (relative to Singapore). The Philippines gets dark about 5:30pm, which is too early. It follows the same time zone as the rest of SE Asia while at the same time - no pun intended - locates at the easternmost end of SE Asia. As a result, the sun sets earlier than the rest of SE Asia.

I didn't need to change my clock when I flew from Singapore to Manila. To save daylight, it should follow Western Australia time zone, and wind its clock back by 1 hour so that the sun won't set until 6:30pm to save an extra hour of daylight. This country can use the saving on the energy cost.


doorway, Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines wall sprout, Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

fountain, Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


Plaza San Luis, , Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
3 buildings with 3 distinctive architectural styles: Plaza San Luis Complex as seen from Real St.
Casa Manila is the brown building on the right side of the photo

bamboo bikes, Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Bamboo bicycle tour is another good way to see Intramuros.
It's a middle way between rickshaw and vehicle 11 (that's what I call a pair of feet).

Parol lantern, Casa Manila, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Xmas parol at the entrance of Casa Manila


After leaving Casa Manila, we continued our way to Puerta de Sta Lucia on Real St.

Street scene, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
My rickshaw view of Real St toward Puerta de Sta Lucia.  The fortified wall on the left is the wall of San Augustin Church.
The 3x5 thumbnailed poster showing his photos of the itinerary can be seen on the bottom of the photo.
Children play on the street. A sight you wouldn't see in a city street outside Intramuros.

When we came to the junction of Real St and Sta Lucia St, I came across a building that strikes me as something in a Florentine Renaissance architecture. Surprises never cease.

Augustinian Provincial House, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
A Florentine renaissance building was once known as Augustinian Provincial House (Casa Procuracion)


  Puerta de Sta. Lucia (the Gate of St. Lucia)
We stopped and climbed the stairs to get to the top of the gate for some nice elevated views of the surrounding.

This is 1 of the 3 west-facing gate, built in 1603. Quite a bit before my time. Just a bit.

Street sign, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


Western wall of San Augustin Church, which is Father Blanco Garden as viewed from atop the Gate of St. Lucia

Father Francisco Manuel Blanco was a Spanish friar and a botanist. He's the author of Flora de Filipinas.

Father Blanco Gardens is a ruins of the former monastery of San Augustin, which was bombed by American air raid in 1945. The buildings in this part of the Church were pretty much levelled with the walls remaining today. I didn't visit it. Its entrance was actually part of San Augustin museum, which I didn't visit.

Augustinian Provincial House, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines Back wall, San Augustin Church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

The Augustinian Provincial House was built to house the growing number of Augustinians in Manila. If you want to convert a large population of Filipinos into Christians, you need a century of evangelical foot soldiers. And Augustinians have strong evangelical zeal.

Unlike Asian country like - say Japan - where there were lots of resistance from Christian missionaries. This is perhaps because the Japanese had existing religions like Shinto and Buddhism while Filipinos didn't have any strong existing organised religion. The conversion rate has reached a screaming 80% success in the Philippines.

There used to be a covered foot bridge connecting the House with the Church across Sta. Lucia St that no longer there. The building is now an office to a private firm.

This House looks quite new comparing to the ruins next door. This is because the Casa is a reconstruction of the old building that was destroyed during WW2.


Standing on top of Puerta Sta. Lucia and looking out, you will see rolling golf courses underneath the wall. What I imagine would be the moat surrounding Intramuros has now being converted into golf courses. Here are some that could be seen from this gate. At least, they didn't put a racing circuit instead.

Golf course, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Golf course, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Golf course, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Golf course, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
He's not swimming. He's recovering golf balls, not his own. For others.

Swiss guard, Manila, Philippines
Wear a helmet to protect yourself from flying golf balls.
This photo was taken in a Manila's shopping mall. Too find out more, click here.

As we walked back down from the top of the city wall onto Sta. Lucia St, we came across a gallery of bronze relief plaques of the 1st 11 Filipino presidents.

Emilio Aguinaldo, Bronze relief plaque, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
1st president: Emilio Aguinaldo
Took office in 1899
Ferdinand Marcos, Bronze relief plaque, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
10th president: Ferdinand Marcos
Dictator
Corazon Aquino, Bronze relief plaque, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
11th president: Corazon Aquino
1st female president


  Baluartillo de San Jose and No. 1 Victoria St.
Continued a little further down Sta. Lucia St, we arrived at Bastion of St. Jose. Baluartillo is actually a tunnel passage structure that drain water into the moat. In this case, it's used to transport ammo to Reducto de San Pedro.

Baluartillo de San Jose, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Baluartillo de San Jose

Baluartillo de San Jose, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Closeup of the baluartillo

bullet riddled wall, Baluartillo de San Jose, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Bullet-riddled wall next to the baluartillo left behind from WW2.
I hope they won't pave over these war scars so as to remind us the horror of war (as they do in Frankfurt)

staircase, Baluartillo de San Jose, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Stairs going up to No. 1 Victoria St
No. 1 Victoria St, Baluartillo de San Jose, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Plaque explaining No.1 Victoria St

Just in case you can't read the plaque very well, let me reproduce here as below,
On this site once stood the headquarter of General Douglas MacArthur, commanding general of the United States Army Forces of the Far East (USAFEF).
Popularly known as "No. 1 Victoria St", it was located opposite the USAFEF headquarters at the Reducto San Pedro.


Reducto de San Pedro, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Reducto de San Pedro is off limit to public, as viewed from No. 1 Victoria St.
It's a pentagon (yes pentagon) structure locates outside the wall.
The footbridge that connects the wall to the reducto is now overgrown with plants.

Let's look at more golf course just outside the wall, shall we?

Golf course, No. 1 Victoria St, Baluartillo de San Jose, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines



  Baluarte de San Diego (Bastion of St. Diego)
As we came to the southwest corner of the city wall, we arrived at the Bastion of St. Diego. The admission is ₱75 pax.

Explanation sign, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines Staircase, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines staircase, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
These circular structures reminded me somewhat of the subterranean structure in Colosseum in Rome.
These structures were excavated in 1978. Archaeologists are still debating the exact purposes of these structures.

This bastion is sometimes called ace-of-spade bastion because of its shape as seen from the air (or on architectural plan).

Aerial view, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
google's satellite view of the bastion

Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


To attract tourists, a garden was added with potted bonsai.

entrance, Garden, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines Bonsai, Garden, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
, Garden, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines , Garden, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


Wedding reception, Garden, Baluarte de San Diego, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Like many places we had been today, some body is getting married. Afterwards, this is where they would have dinner.

  Puerta Real (the other end)
I said the other end of Puerta Real because google map indicates that it locates at Muralla St, which was walled in. Now it's only a storage for powder magazine after it was destroyed in 1762 by British invasion.

Our rider took us into Puerta Real from an entrance that can be accessed from General Luna St, which seems to be the other end of Puerta Real.

I actually didn't get in. I stopped short at the entrance.

Puerta Real, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Puerta Real, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Puerta Real, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines



  Baluarte de San Andres
Our final destination in Intramuros as the sun begun to set. It was constructed to protect the old Puerta Real.

Sign, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Wedding photo, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Everywhere we went, clearly, love was in the air.

Department of Labor and Employment, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Above:  Department of Labor and Employment
Right: Manila City Hall
Clock Tower, City Hall, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines


Golf Course, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Warning sign, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
and possibly flying clubs...

Canon, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Canon, Baluarte de San Andres, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Left:  Watch out for flying canon balls, love birds!


  Plaza Mexico
After our last destination, we asked our rider to drop us somewhere that was easy to catch a taxi. He dropped us somewhere near this plaza overlooking Pasig River. This is outside the wall.

Aldolpho Lopez Mateos, Plaza Mexico, Manila, Philippines Plaza Mexico, Manila, Philippines

Psig River, Manila, Philippines
View across Pasig River

Looking at the map, we did a full circle and ended up quite close to Max's restaurant. But we didn't realise it at the time.

We covered some 12 destinations in the Wall. There were no major sites that we missed (and I let the rider took us for a ride!) The only sites we missed are those city gates (puertas) we haven't visited. But once you see 3 puertas, you see them all.

While we didn't plumb Intramuros in great depth, I was reasonably satisfied. If we walked instead of using rickshaw, we couldn't have visited more than 5 sites in 2.5 hours, especially on such hot day, and would be totally exhausted.

I recommend the rickshaw for anyone over 55 of average health (mine is considerably worse).



1 comment:

  1. There are many tourist spots inside Manila butCasa Manila Intramuros is still the best for me. Nice list! Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete