What else could you do on a Sunday?
Follow the Pied Piper of Manila
It was Kelvin’s idea to book slots for a walking tour by Carlos Celdran. And he didn’t have to sell the idea to us. We were already sold to it even before he brought it up with us.
Mr. Celdran was nothing less than entertaining, with his pockets full of flowers and his change of hats. Kelvin, our group historian, took away interesting perspectives from the two hours we spent with our Chocnut-loving guide. What did we learn from that afternoon at Fort Santiago?
- Fort Santiago is actually smaller than you think. It begins where you see the crest of the king and ends at the bamboo growth, which is just a few meters away.
- The fort is small because of the size of the population then.
- Manila and by extension the rest of the Philippines was more for the Pope than it was for the King of Spain; this was displayed through size: Fort Santiago is only two stories high while Manila Cathedral is eight.
- Strategically, the Spaniards placed the Chinese just across the Pasig River for this reason: if ever they did anything disagreeable, they could be easily quelled with the canons. The Chinese could reply in kind because they had gunpowder. And it happened many times.
- Intramuros is the heart of Manila. During the Spanish regime, it was kilometer zero. It was only changed when the Americans took over, proclaimed Rizal as our National Hero, and had a monument made.
- Japanese massacred about 70 million Filipinos in Manila during WWII.
- Manila was bombed because of Gen. Douglas McArthur’s poor choice of tactic. The bomb destroyed Intramuros, the heart of Manila. Without the heart, the body suffered.
- The Americans – through their congress – had secular places rebuilt. But not the churches.
- It was the Americans who gave us the idea of a national anything, including the hero. We would’ve picked Bonifacio or Aguinaldo. They wanted Rizal. Their reasons. Not ours.
- The Manila Cathedral has been built 7 times. What we have now is the eighth renovation. This makes the San Agustin church the oldest church in the country.
Because Carlos Celdran wanted to help local small businesses, part of the tour fee – which is Php 1,000.00 – is a kalesa or padyak ride (your choice) from Fort Santiago to San Agustin church. It was our first time to ever ride a horse-drawn carriage. It was high, breezy, and exciting!
It was also because of him that I finally learned the story behind Felix Resurrecion Hildalgo’s “El Asesinato del Gobernador Bustamante”. Fernando Manuel de Bustillo Bustamante y Rueda was one of the governor-generals of the Philippines during Spanish regime. According to Celdran, Bustamante was about to redistribute the land but the local priests did not want that happening so they attacked him.
When that was over, we headed for our last stop for the day.
Search for Books, Discover New Spots, and Talk Politics Over Dinner
We went to National Bookstore at Robinson’s Place Ermita. Now that it has located from its original spot, it’s smaller. Somehow, it doesn’t look as friendly as it was before. Maybe because of the way the store is shaped. Or the lighting? I don’t know.
Next to the bookstore was a new restaurant, Mr. Pizza. It looks like it’s run by Koreans. And it has a live viewing of how the pizza dough is made.
Kelvin liked the idea of pasta for dinner so we ate at The Old Spaghetti House. He had the Bolognese Spaghetti, Cat ordered the Pesto with Grilled Chicken, and I Christian’s Spaghetti with Spinach and Cheese Tofu Balls in Creamy Tomato Sauce. I went crazy with the grated cheese so it was way too cheesy. I struggled with the last three forkfuls. Thank goodness I was able to finish it.
But what stretched the dinner conversation was a number of what-if questions. What if McArthur never bombed Manila, how would the Japanese be defeated? What if the American-Filipino force did not chicken out on a particular battle and went through it, despite being risky? What if the Japanese won the WWII? What if the Americans were vigilant after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Could the Philippines have sufficient forces against the kamikaze fighters?
We had questions. We had answers. We had an imagination that would’ve lasted all night long. But we had to go home.
Just before we separated, we spotted a Lawson branch! Cat and I decided to enter. Kelvin waited outside. There were hardly any particular Japanese products there. But there was an unlimited Bamboo Charcoal Ice Cream. And Camote as well!
This is Part Two of a Two-Part Post.
The Old Spaghetti House: 3/F Robinsons Place Manila, Midtown Wing, Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila
Mr. Pizza: G/F Robinsons Place Manila, Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila
Lawson Convenience Store: Pedro Gil St., Ermita, Manila