Ever since I took my tours seriously, I’ve focused mainly on the San Miguel area.
My tour in the said district usually includes the Basílica Menor de San Sebastián (commonly known simply as San Sebastián Church), which is Asia’s only all-steel, pre-fabricated church,
Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey Church (or San Beda Church), the National Shrine of St. Jude, a view of the the Malacañang Palace, Teus, Goldenberg and Laperal Mansions, Machuca Tiles office, San Miguel Pro Cathedral and Casa Roces. All these San Miguel tours end with a hearty merienda at La Cocina de Tita Moning at a Legarda house in Calle San Rafael.
More often than not, when a group asks for an itinerary, San Miguel is on top of my list. However, when a group asks for a specifically Intramuros tour, I do concede.
And I also concede that the Walled City’s charm never tires me. It’s always a joy to bring people around the old capital of the “Pearl of the Orient Seas”. Intramuros, once the bastion and stronghold of the Spanish empire in the Far East, is a story of glory and massacre, of beauty and death. And today, we are continuously hoping, that a new chapter of hope and resurgence will finally happen.
2015 is the “Visit the Philippines” year. Thus, the rehabilitation of Southeast Asia’s most European walled city is a necessity. Currently, we are looking forward to the fruits of the Intramuros Administration’s pedestrianization policies and the opening of the Intramuros Ecclesiastical Museum, which will be housed in the reconstructed San Ignacio church. As we speak, the former Mother Church – the sueño de oro – of the Jesuits is being rebuilt.
Lately, I have toured guests in Intramuros and they have all been very enjoyable groups! The most common questions were:
1.) Why is Intramuros seemingly bereft of tourists considering it is the old capital?
2.) Why are there so many dirty parts?
3.) How come there are very limited food choices?
4.) Why were the ruins not preserved or conserved?
There was no easy answer to their questions. One reason though which contributes to the seeming stale experience in Intramuros is urban sprawl. It’s too cut-off from the high-traffic areas which are frequented by locals and even foreign visitors (i.e. Makati Central Business District, Araneta Center, Ortigas Business District, and Bonifacio Global City).
At any rate, my guests still tell me how they enjoyed and learned so many things about Philippine history and cultural heritage through my tours in Intramuros. Usually, my tours start at Plaza Roma then we proceed to the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and Museum, Plaza San Luis then we pass by the Ayuntamiento, the Intendencia, the Maestranza, the Puerta de Isabela II, then we pass by el Colegio de San Juan de Letran and from there, we walk ON the walls (Muralla), passing the Puerta del Parian and exiting at the baluarte (bulwark) in front of the Lyceum. My tours usually end with meriendas or drinks at the Skydeck of the Bayleaf Hotel, which offers breathtaking views of the Manila Bay. It’s a wonderful experience to watch the iconic Manila sunset from the said restaurant which gives you a 360 degree view of the city.
For your Intramuros or San Miguel tour needs, don’t hesitate to reach me at 0917-4690717.
Manila despite its countless problems and ugly/dangerous areas has so numerous nooks of beauty and inspiration. It’s always a joy for me to bring people to those places hicieron ayer.