Last April fool’s Day I and my friends did something we don’t usually do—get out of our usual way and be a tourist on our land. That day we went touring some of the tourist spots in Manila. After all, the tourists have seen it so why would we be left behind?
First stop on our agenda was Intramuros: the walled city that was the original old Manila. Intramuros was the first settlement of Spaniards in Manila and was originally built in the 16th century. The walls were destroyed during World War II but were restored during the Marcos regime. We first went on the famous and historical Manila Cathedral. It was my first time to actually go inside that Cathedral and so to pay my respect to our Lord I grabbed the opportunity to pray. Coincidentally, there was a wedding happening during that time and I thought that the church was going to be closed for the ceremony but luckily it wasn’t so we were able to enter.
Next was walking beside, on, and through the wall itself. The old city was really walkable and there are lots of things to see. We would’ve loved to see the famous Manila Bay sun set at Luneta but unfortunately walking through a walled city really took time and we just settled seeing it at a high spot on the wall itself.
Leaving Intramuros we went to one of Southeast Asia’s largest historical park the Rizal Park. It was just a stone’s throw away and it was really on the path of our final destination on the list. It was already getting dark when we arrived across the Rizal Monument, the place where the Philippines’ national hero José Rizal was buried.
Next stop: Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). CCP is famous for hosting conferences and was built for this purpose during the Marcos regime. During our visit CCP is preparing for the upcoming International Parliamentary Union summit so some decorations were placed on its grounds. We went around this area and passed by Folk Arts Theater, the place where I graduated almost four years ago. We also passed by the Coconut Palace, made more popular when the Amazing Race 6 made it their pitstop. On the way back to Roxas Boulevard we also passed the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Star City (a theme park), and the Aliw Theater.
Finally, last on our agenda was the Baywalk: a few kilometers strip along the shores of Manila Bay where there are lots of bars and restaurants that give entertainment to everyone but since it’s a few kilometers long you may find places of tranquility. It’s especially beautiful at night because of the lights and entertainment provided by the shop owners themselves and is also romantic because there’s a special mini-cruise there that takes you around the bay and have a look at Manila’s night lights. This was where we intended to take our dinner but we were surprised to find out that Malate is just nearby so we ended up adding another unexpected spot on our list.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to explore Malate much; we just had enough time to watch the “dancing” fountain of Plaza Rajah Sulayman (in front of Malate facing the bay). There is also a beautiful old church at the other side of the park but since it was late it was closed.
After visiting all these places around Manila we just decided to relax by the bay, just enjoying the light sea breeze and just simply appreciating the moment. Hey, our adventure for the day didn’t end here but that’s another story!