Last 26-29 May 2010, the Ateneo de Manila University hosted the 27th Buklod Atenista, a national summit of all the student leaders of all the Ateneos of the Philippines. Last 28 May, a scheduled cultural tour of Manila was set and it was yours truly, Joaquin de Jesus, who toured the participants around the Cuidad Murada, the Walled City, Intramuros.
I met the group in Binondo where they were finishing their food trip around the country’s old Chinese quarter. Upon joining them in the bus, I was introduced by some members of the Sanggu, my brief credentials read out to my peers. Upon entering the old capital, the tour began despite still being inside the bus.
We began by following the contour of the walls through calle Muralla. There we all saw the restored walls of Intramuros. What followed was a short prayer at the old site of the Iglesia de San Ignacio, a church ruin that should be close to the heart of every Atenean. We all then walked to the Mother of all Churches in the Philippines, the Minore Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepcion, the Manila Cathedral. Inside, I showed them the largest pipe organ in Asia, which was recently restored, the side chapels that featured the history of the cathedral and the exquisite main altar.
Then, just before the rain fell, we headed to the oldest church in the country, the San Agustin. Luckily surviving the war, San Agustin is a church that must be visited by both tourists and Filipinos alike because it is a testament to the beauty of the country’s past churches. Fortunately, not all of Intramuros churches were wiped out and we have San Agustin to prove to us how much was lost.
We toured San Agustin Church and Museum extensively, the students being enthralled by the painting technique employed to beautify the church. They were also terrified by the nichos but also amazed at some of the intricate ones, in particular, the Ynchaustis’. I showed them Legaspi’s Chapel and explained to them that the crystal chandeliers imported from France are the best maintained in the city and if not, in the country.
At the Coro or choir loft, photos were taken.
We ended our day with relaxing merienda and series of photo-ops at the Baluarte de San Diego, a unique structure whose ruins are beautiful and at the same, mind-boggling.