When I was in Korea, I met a lot of travelers planning to visit the Philippines. Most of the time, I recommend the places outside Manila, like Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, and Palawan. In the past months, I’ve been to Albay, Bataan, Laguna, and Batangas. Exploring the nearby provinces made me appreciate the natural resources of the Philippines. To be honest, I haven’t explored Manila until now. This time, I was educated about the history of the Philippines.
Here’s my itinerary:
1. Rizal Park
It’s named after Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. He was an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright and journalist. He used his pen to criticize the Spaniards. He was shot in charges of treason in Luneta Field which is now part of the Park.
2. The National Museum Complex
It has three main buildings: The National Museum of Anthropology, the National Art Gallery, and the National Museum of Natural History.
Intramuros means “within the walls”. It is the ancient heart and soul of the great Metropolis of Manila. It witnessed the most important events in the Philippine History. The administration of Intramuros insures that 16th to 19th century Philippine-Spanish architecture remains the general architectural style of the walled area. Intramuros is open to the public and is home to various museums, religious buildings, educational institutions, and government offices.
4. Intramuros: Fort Santiago
Fort Santiago became infamous for its dungeons. It was a symbol of terror for centuries. This is where Dr. Jose Rizal and other revolutionaries were imprisoned during the Philippine Revolution in 1896. It was used as detention and torture chamber where thousands were massacred by the Japanese. Now, it is designate as a national shrine for Dr. Jose Rizal and the victims of war. (Entrance Fee: ₱75/ $2)
5. Intramuros: Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral is officially called Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Concepcion. It was established in 1571 by a secular priest, Fray Juan de Vivero. He was sent to promote Christianity as the spiritual and religious administration in newly colonized Philippines. The cathedral underwent different calamities. It was destroyed by fire, earthquakes, and by the second world war. The present cathedral was constructed in 1950’s retaining the features of the past. It is where Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis held a mass when they visited the Philippines.
6. San Agustin Church
San Agustin Church is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is patterned after some of the magnificent temples built by the Augustinians in Mexico. It used to have two towers but an earthquake in 1880 damaged the left tower. In addition, it was looted by British forces who occupied Manila in 1762. The monastery became a concentration camp during the Japanese occupation. Now, it houses the San Agustin church and museum which highlights the Augustinian mission in the Philippines and displays the treasures of the church. (Entrance Fee: ₱200/ $4)
I’d like to thank Explore Manila, an independent group of freelance tour and history enthusiasts, for guiding me in my Manila Tour. I really learned a lot about history and culture of the Philippines because of the information they shared during the trip.
Besides the very educational and informative talk, they also gave me a free handbook which contains the history about the places in Intramuros like Fort Santiago, the seven churches, and even the nearby places outside Intramuros.
Visit their Facebook Page – Explore Manila – Historical Tour
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