It’s Sunday evening here in Quezon City and I finally have a decent wifi spot and time to catch up on my blog. It’s moments like these where you’re not moving around that are sometimes the best on a vacation. But I have to wake up yet again at a crazy hour for my flight to Batanes at 6am. It’s 8:15pm and I’m hoping to at least get 5 hours rest before I wake up at 3am. Oy!
Anyway, before I left for Cebu last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to take a tour of a place in Manila called Intramuros. It’s a walled city that was once the center of Spanish Manila. It was a walking tour with a guide named Carlos Celdron and he only does this on weekends. It was a really big group comprised of foreigners and locals. He puts on a bit of a show while doing the tour and his famous phrase is, “Walk this way!” Carlos marks himself by wearing a bowler hat like the famous painting, The Son of Man, by Rene Magritte. We started at the formal entrance to Intramuros and made our way to one of the main attractions of the tour, Fort Santiago featured above. With Carlos’s flamboyant nature he described the history of the Philippines and the various cultures that occupied the country, most importantly the Catholic religion. He’s a proud Filipino and he shows it through his enthusiasm and dramatics during his tour. He made sure to tell us about the many cultures and countries that occupied the Philippines, from Spain with the Catholic Church, the US and Japan and their military presence, to the Chinese. Should you go on his tour, he enjoyed emphasizing things with belting out various words in his description of the history and strong, silent pauses. 🙂
(Sorry for the funky stretch – still squaring away how WP works :)) All in all, he was very informative. Once we were in Fort Santiago, he got into the history of the national hero of Philippine history, Jose Rizal, which was also the site of his execution. He was an author, poet, nationalist and revolutionary. He was not only well-versed but well-traveled and educated with travels to Belgium and Spain. Upon his return to the Philippines, he was already named an enemy of the state by the Spanish authorities because of one of his novels named Noli me Tangere, which means “Touch me Not,” which criticized the Spanish friars and the Catholic Church. That of course did not sit well with them and was a driving force for his execution. He was killed at the young age of 35.
The next big site on the tour was San Agustin Church and Monastery, which survived the Battle of Manila. The interior was very ornate and opulent, as we arrived a wedding had just finished there. It’s the oldest stone church in the Philippines that was built in 1589. We then ended our tour across the way at a restaurant called Barbara’s, where we were served some yummy halo halo, a well-known dessert, which means, “Hodge-Podge,” where it’s a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk with a mixture of sweet beans, jellos, and fruits. Carlos made an analogy that Filipinos are like halo-halo, as the culture and people really are a mix of all the cultures that have landed here and influenced the country and people. Should you come here to Manila, it’s certainly worth it and maybe come here a little earlier too to explore things on your own as well. You can find Carlos on the internet and his number is also in the Lonely Planet guide book.
The next day was spent with my sister in law’s brother, Hyman and his wife, Ling-Ling. I was brought up to a nice club that overlooked the city of Manila. Ling-Ling and I enjoyed a nice brunch and then I indulged in yet another massage. 😉 I tell you I’ve received some of the best massages here for a really inexpensive price. We then hung out and went to a movie, Robocop, and enjoyed some delicious dim sum at one of the largest restaurants I’ve ever seen called Gloria Maris.
On Monday, I joined Esper, Hilda and Ate Zin to a beautiful resort called Anvaya Cove in Subic Bay about 2 1/2 -3 hours north of Manila. It was an early start but we enjoyed a zip line and basically hung out at the pool and relaxed. It’s certainly a place I’d go back to again. On the drive up, we passed by Clark AFB where my sister, Cindy was born. It’s now officially closed and is now a big airport here in the country but it was cool to see where my dad was stationed. Subic Bay was also a major naval shipyard and base but is now no longer a US military base but in order to reach Anvaya we had to drive through the base. I got to see what a huge impact and presence our US military had there. It was then back to Manila that night as I prepared for my trip to Cebu to meet my family on my mom’s side. Next entry will be Cebu. It’s about 9pm now and so I’ll close and post about Cebu hopefully tomorrow. I have some open time when I arrive in Batanes and so I’ll do my best to post if not I’ll post upon my return on Friday morning. Thanks again for following and now for my 5-6 hour sleep. Zzzzzzzzz…