The western religion is so far from me to understand its core dogmata. However, as one of the oldest church left in this town, by walking inside of it, any of you can feel the strongest beat from the solemn religion which you can hardly resist.
Within the old Intramuros area of Manila stands the rather impressive Manila cathedral, whose history begins with the Spanish conquest of this area in 1571. They soon established the Church of the Immaculate Conception hereabouts. In 1579 the Pope declared Manila a bishopric and thus the Church was elevated to the status of Cathedral with the first Bishop, spaniard called Fray Domingo de Salazar, installed in 1580. By 1581 a new and more impressive building had become the first purpose built Cathedral.
The cathedral didn't last long however, being destroyed by fire in 1583. The fire was caused by a candle falling over during a funeral service in the Cathedral and eventually managed to raze half the town. Natural disaster was to be a bit of a pattern, as we shall see. A second more sturdy building was under construction but partially destroyed by earthquake in 1599. As the year of 1600 turned over into 1601, another earthquake caused further damage. They must have been getting a bit dispirited by this point, I feel.
Rather than bore the reader with a lot of detail at this point, a simple list of catastrophes will probably suffice here. 1621 - earthquake, 1645, ditto times two. Yet more money extracted from the peole and work continued. In 1654, the cornerstone of the fourth cathedral was laid and with various donations, including a large one from the King of Spain utilising funds from the Spanish exploitation of Mexico and South America, work continued apace on a series of improvements.
Nature smiled on the Cathedral but in 1762 the British Army did not. After their invasion, they effectively looted all the treasures therein. Mother Nature, however, was not to be outdone by mere mortals, and soldiers at that, so fast forward to 1852 and another earthquake with more damage. More money raised from various sources, more work and the sixth Cathedral opened in 1858.
You will probably have guessed, if you did not know already, what is coming next. 1863, another earthquake, this one very serious as it happend during a service and many were killed both within the Cathedral and in the surrounding areas when it collapsed. A rather worrying report from a local newspaper states that many of the victims were still alive but died before they could be freed whilst, at the same time, frantic efforts were being made to save the horde of gold, silver and diamonds buried under the Cathedral. I am intrigued as to what Christ would have made of that situation.
Writing this tip is becoming a little like Groundhog Day. 1870, orders given to clear the remains of the old building and start a new one. Finished in 1879, this was the seventh Cathedral. It wasn't to last long though. 1880, another earthquake and the belltower, which had miraculously survived the 1863 quake, finally collapsed.
Forward again now to 1945, and again it is the men with guns that cause the devastation. The Cathedral is destroyed yet again during the fight to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. For the eigth time it was reconstructed and opened for worship in 1958 and this is the building you see today. It was subsequently raised to the position of minor basilica in 1981 by Pope John Paul.
Whilst it does not obviously have the historical structure you may wish to visit a Cathedral for, it certainly stands as an amazing monument to the strength of the Christian Church in the Philippines and Manila in particular. It is a large structure and the stained glass work, obviously relatively modern in conception, is particularly impressive.
If you are particularly lucky, you may bump into a Philippino wedding as I did which was very colourful and extremely joyous. I can't guarantee it but you never know. What I can guarantee is that if you visit here and consider the history, you will be impressed.
As a young man, I did go to protest against the dictatorial regime duing the 1986 Revolution in the major highway EDSA (People Power). Then after that, we did visit the Malacanang Palace to see the massive collection of shoes of Imelda Marcos. There were about 1220 pairs of shoes, as well as 500 gowns and 300 bras (one was bullet-proof). I also marvelled at the huge perfume bottles from Europe and the huge circular bed where the former First Lady slept...a true palace.
But there is more to Malacanang than just seeing the wealth that the marcos's had amassed. The building has a very rich history - being situated on the north bank of the Pasig River, it was originally the home of a Spanish merchant. But in the early 19th century, it became the residence of Spanish and then eventually American governement officials. Then the Philippine presidents followed suit after the Philippines gained independence (independence day is June 12).
But now the rules have changed as to which part of the palace you could see. renovations keep on going and if you are planning to go to the Museum, you need to have a written letter of request be sent to Malacanang Palace Museum and address it to the director--- seven (7) days prior to your visit and indicate your full name.
Write to The Director, Malacanang Museum, Kalayaan Hall, Malacanang, Manila
From the malacanang website:
"The Malacañang Museum at Kalayaan Hall is open from Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and can be reached through the Kalayaan Gate. Visitors coming in private vehicles or by taxi should enter the Malacañang environs through either the Arlegui Street or J.P. Laurel Street Entries and either park or disembark in the Mendiola Street Car Park, after which a short stroll along J.P. Laurel Street will bring them to Kalayaan Gate. Visitors on foot can also arrive by way of the General Solano Street or San Rafael Street Entries.
Please note that, due to prevailing conditions, visits and tours of the Malacañang Museum are STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, and can be initiated by writing or faxing at least SEVEN DAYS IN ADVANCE
It is quite a hassle but rules do change in Philippines quickly so you can ask your hotel concierge if this rule still applies. "
Cameras (especially high-powered dSLR photographers) are not allowed to enter the premises - definitely no picture taking is allowed…
Okay, here I am again with my cemetery trips! Of course, I enjoyed the tomb of Evita, of Lincoln, of Unknown Soliders...but nothing can beat the majesty and extravagance put in by rich Filipino-Chinese families into their loved ones' final resting places! Except the tombs of the pharaoh in Egypt of course....
Have you ever attended a Chinese Funeral/Wake in Manila? It's so different -- they have these little versions of a house and little cute things -- very colourful...then they burn them! But that's they're culture (I should say mine too because I am partly Chinese).
But the Filipino-Chinese are the richest ethnic group in Manila, and when I say rich, they are RICH! The tombs have electricity and even running water, well decorated and true expressions of wealth.
I just like walking in peaceful cemeteries and this is a great place to escape the chaos of Manila...
Who would have thought that this sprawling piece of land was once part of Manila Bay? Yes, the entire CCP complex was land reclaimed from the bay, thanks to the ambitious project of then First Lady Imelda Marcos to introduce and bring the "Culture and Arts" to the Filipinos.
In 1969, the Cultural Center of the Philippines was the first structure to rise in the area. Being the pioneer, the name stuck and the place became known as CCP Complex. CCP is the choice venue for ballet performances, classical concerts, and theatrical plays/musicals.
In 1974, the Philippines hosted the Miss Universe pageant for the first time. For this purpose, another structure was built in the complex - the Folk Arts Theater which later was re-named Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas after a famous local poet - in a record speed of 77 days. Folk Arts is a popular venue for pop and rock concerts.
In 1976, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) was constructed within the complex for the IMF-World Bank meeting. The then state-of-the-art PICC became the first convention center in Asia. Since then, it has hosted several international trade exhibitions, conferences, concerts, corporate parties, commencement exercises, and other special events.
Aside from these landmarks, the complex is also home to the following: Film Center of the Philippines, Design Center of the Philippines, Coconut Palace, Star City, Aliw Theater, Sofitel Philippine Plaza, and Harbor Center. Reclamation stretched farther to the south and with it, more buildings were added: World Trade Center, Philippine Trade Training Center, Senate of the Philippines.
Presently, the CCP Complex is connected to the biggest mall in Asia - Mall of Asia - via Macapagal Boulevard. Incidentally, the boulevard as well as the mall are both standing on reclaimed land.
Divisoria or Divi as it is fondly called by locals, is a noisy, stinky and confusing giant market located on both sides of Claro M. Recto Ave., in Manila. It's been a popular destination for shoppers who want to make each centavo count for decades. Its warren-like structures boast of the widest array of goods, from textile, toys to fresh produce! Shoppers descend to Divisoria in droves especially during the months nearing christmas season and before the school year starts each June.
The best time to go shopping in Divi is in the mornings during weekdays. You have an edge over the others if you get to be the first costumer for the day because the shop-keepers will give you good bargain because you are "buena mano" which literally means "good hands". Your money will be waved on the goods they sell because they believe you will bring in luck and more sales.
The trick is to window shop in the regular stores first so that you can gauge the amount that you can shave off when you go to Divisoria where you are expected to haggle. The last time I went there to buy fabrics/accesories (November 2011) I was able to get some fabrics at 50% lower price than if i got them outside Divi. Just ask the shop-keepers for their best price and then ask for 30% discount. Keep a poker face while haggling! Go crow over your purchases when you are home!!!
For animal lovers, a visit at the Manila zoo is recommended. Although the collection of animals is no longer that plenty compared during the 80s.
One can marvel animals like siberian tigers, lion, zebra, hippo, deers, crocodiles and others. There is also an aviary area for bird lovers.
There is a lagoon intended also for boating.
For many certified sun-worshippers the world over, paradise goes by the name Boracay. For indeed, many visitors have come back to Boracay year after year. Some have even chosen to live in this paradise island. Sheltered from the fierce easterly typhoons, Boracay can be found at the Northwestern tip of Panay, in the West Visayan region,off the Sibuyan Sea. Boracay has managed to pack its thousand- hectare area with all the elements of a tropical paradise- crystal blue waters, powder white sand, liberal doses of tropical palms and flowering plants, and a healthy marine life under the seas.
When walking in Manila near the Luneta Park, you will see some horse carriages called "Kalesa" that will bring you around the little streets of Manila, including parts of Chinatown. I hadn't ridden one for so long, so I decided to ride on it.
So, the horse carriage took us around the streets of manila and it's amazing how he maneuvers this car in the car-filled streets. The ride is fun an quite exhilirating, and definitely touristy. The guide does not really talk much, unless you talk to them (some might speak some English).
At the end of the tour, I asked how much I was to pay and I think he charged us something like 3,000 pesos total for myself, my wife and my sister-in-law! That's about $20 dollars each at the time which I thought was not too bad, but my sister-in-law who lived in the Philippines thought it was overpriced.
But, overall, a very nice trip to take and I would do it again next time and would even add some tip to help my fellow Filipinos...
This is actually just a cultural park that has been beside the airport since I was a small boy. I remember seeing the mini-rice terraces here and I think it still has a small scale version of the Mayon Volcano. I also enjoyed watching the planes flying over the site --- I'd like to thank my parents for bringing me here often and making my imagination grow and want to see so many places!!! Sometimes, I think I've overdone it though, hehehe...
It has a collection of mini-villages which will expose you to the different cultures in the Philippines -- from the thatched huts of the Ifugao village to even muslim mosques. Open 0600-2100 (but check if times have changed)
On Sundays, there is an interesting dance number at the Mindanao Village. Don't tell anybody, but I did do a Minadanao-Ifugao Folk Dance number while I was in college (yikes, hehehe...and I also had to her the infamous ifugao g-string, surprising comfortable, hehehe)
There is also a walk-through aviary but I don't think they have the famous Monkey-eating eagle...
Manila's Ocean Park is really designed for families and lovers of the sea to get a good overview from the rivers and lakes (of the Amazon, for some bizarre reason) to the reefs and deep of the amazing water surrounding the the phillipines.
The displays themselves are quite well done, though a bit cramped for people. Avoid the weekend. On Sunday, we had to wait two hours just to buy a ticket. But they do have a decent enough queueing system and you can have lunch at the restaurant to bide your time.
The Philippines is right in the heart of marine biodiversity and this precious in-town resource lets the locals know the treasures at their feet... even if they can't swim.
If you looking for a real bargain Divisoiria is a right place for you, you can buy everything there in a bargain and wholesale price, this is the place where almost all the merchant in the Philippines buy there goods, Name it and chances are you will find it here. More than anything else, Divisoria is known for textiles...very cheep stuff and it"s name branded too!! but be carefull of pick pocketers. and its worth the time and money.
Manila Ocean Park is the first and largest Oceanarium, open water marine habitat, boutique mall, restaurant row and function facilities all located in one complex in the Philippines, The park has a huge lobby with lots of photos of marine life to kindle the enthusiasm of the visitors and variety of food stalls to fill the hungry stomach of the visitors before/after the awesome ocean adventure.
Finally, my wish to take my little darlings to the Manila Ocean Park has been granted. We went through a series of aquarium beside the stairways and artificial waterfall. It’s interesting to know that all those marine life in the entire park are all can be found in the Philippines seas. I just can’t imagine how blessed we, Filipinos, having those wonderful treasures. The underwater tunnel is the highlight feature of the tour. It’s sooooo beautiful. You could almost touch the fish except for the glass that divides their world from ours. My kiddies were amazed with those lovely creatures under the sea. They enjoyed the Manila Ocean Park and left the place with a big smile in their face and so did I. I could read in their happy eyes saying “Mommy, balik ulit tayo dito" - "( let’s go back here again someday)" :-)
Here are some pictures, enjoy!
Warning: WARNING: don’t use flash while taking pictures. It will kill Nemo and other friends.
The Filipinas Stamp Collectors Club sponsors these free walking tours on postal history one Sunday each month. The tour includes a walk in the Liwasang Bonifacio, guided tour of the postal museum and auction. Guests usually meet at 1pm, at the Liwasang Bonifacio, in front of the Manila Central Post Office.
Interested parties may call/text Mr. Lawrence Chan at: 0919-3901671. Please be sure to inform him well in advance how many of you are coming to join the tour.
Fort Santiago (named after St. James, Slayer of Moors) is located within the walls of Intramuros. There are a lot of things to see there but I think the most important of all aspects of the Fort is the Rizal Shrine.
There are samples of Rizal's writings, art, medical implements, athletic equipment, furniture, pictures of his love interests, and of course his clothes. Speaking of his clothes, I always find it funny (in a totally non-haha way) that such an artistic, patriotic and romantic soul contained in such a compact package. You can see what remains of the pantry where the Spaniards kept him and also see the path he took on the early morning of 29th December, 1896 when he was executed at Bagumbayan.
The entrance fee is P40/pax and if you want to see his furnitures, you have to pay another P10 at the door of the display room.
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