The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Manila– Shopping! Shopping! & lots of SHOPPING!!! Right from the South Sea Pearls to the first copy of luxury handbags, latest electronics, and trending clothes, you get everything here. So when I got a chance to visit Manila for a 1-week official trip this Christmas, I planned to visit malls after office hours every day. Though I loved the shopping experience and ended up spending a fortune on buying things I don’t need, what I enjoyed the most was a walk on the streets of old Manila.
On a holiday, I hired a cab and asked the Filipino driver to take me to the best tourist destination in Manila and after 90 minutes in the not so popular Manila traffic, I finally reached Rizal Park. After that, it was serendipity!
Rizal Park: Rizal Park (the locals call it as Luneta), is one of the largest urban parks in Asia. At the entrance, you see the famous Rizal Monument and the Philippines flag. Take a leisurely walk through the gardens to unwind yourself and get famaliar to the Filipino history.
Just 2 km from Rizal Park is the old city of Manila called Intramuros. I strongly believe that a walking tour of Intramuros is the best thing you can do when in Manila. It is a complete package for any traveler – You get to know the history, the culture, and the people. Before you plan your tour, you must have some background about the Filipino history.
About Intramuros: Intramuros (means within the walls in Latin) was ‘The City Of Manila’ during the Spanish Colonial Period. It was the economic and cultural center of Philippines. In the 16th Century, a defensive wall was built to protect the city from invasions.
During the world war 2, the battle of Manila was fought by Filipino and American soldiers against Japanese troops in Intramuros. The US and the Filipino Army advanced into the city of Manila in order to drive the 4000 Japanese soldiers under Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji out of Manila. The frustrated and angry Japanese troops took their anger out by mutilating innocent civilians, raping young girls and burning down the buildings. The entire area including the Churches, buildings and the houses was destroyed during this battle. The Manila massacre killed more than 100,000 people. Today, the old city of Manila or Intramuros stands as a reminder of that battle. When you go on a walking tour to Intramuros, you get to learn two key things about Philippines – 1. Jose Rizal is one of the greatest heroes of Philippines, 2. The battle of Manila has left a conspicuous mark in the Filipino history
I would highly recommend you to start your tour with Rizal Park and then visit Intramuros.
Rizal Park -> Zero KM -> Fort Santiago -> Manila Cathedral -> San Agustin Church -> Casa Manila -> Plaza de Santa Isabel
Visit Casa Manila- A historic house museum of Spanish Colonial heritage. Walk past the ruins of Aduana Building and the Commission on Elections headquarters – Palacio del Gobernador. Watch the newspapers getting printed in the ‘Manila Bulletin’ printing press. As you walk on the streets of this walled city, you can observe the old Spanish-era influences on the building architecture.
What you will love about Intramuros is the perfectly preserved mementos and the heritage buildings that serves as an epitome of the love for country’s National leaders and unsung heroes.