I wasn’t expecting a clear, cloudless day. I just felt I had to walk, . So I invited Alex and France on an impromptu walk inside The Walled City — Intramuros. We rode the public bus to Quiapo from Quezon City at Php25 each. The bus dropped us off Padre Burgos Drive in front of Manila City Hall. From there, we took the Victoria Street entrance in all its pedicab glory, and… wandered.
We didn’t have an itinerary, we just relied on hearsay, faith, and a 5 minute perusal of a Wiki entry. All it all it was a fulfilling walk (except for the part where we rested and ate late lunch at a convenience store! Losers!), although we did wish for a proper tour of the place, in retrospect (historic name dropping, anecdotes, the works!).
Our first (real and long) stop was The Silahis Center on General Luna St., between the Manila Bulletin and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. The center tags itself as an “emporium of Philippine art, craft and culture” and is a store-slash-museum.
The Silahis showcases and sells furniture, crafts, clothes, books, instruments, figurines, and all manner of knick-knacks in three levels. The fourth level houses galleries dedicated to the fine arts and other collectibles from neighboring countries. The most affordable items were priced at Php50, so we satisfied our eyes more than our whims.
Wandering around Silahis was like and unlike taking a history test on “this province is famous for what product?” Their collections were extensive, and seeing and touching them left a deeper impression, plus a sense of pride. The items were export-quality; but more than that, they reiterate the beauty of Filipino craftsmanship and design. Too bad I didn’t take photos of the inside, but here are a few more taken outside the store:
We spent an hour and thirty inside without even finishing all the galleries! At that point, hunger got the better of us. So for late lunch, we tried to hunt down a certain new establishment behind San Agustin. Around twenty futile and feet-murdering minutes later, we found ourselves outside the Mini Stop in front of Ilustrado — the Mini Stop with the saddest two-tune creaking entryway.
At that point, we marked out places we could visit inside Intramuros (thanks to a free map from Silahis) and ended up with this meager list: the San Ignacio Ruins, Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago. On our way to the church ruins, we stumbled upon that famous skateboarding park/basketball court with graffiti. There was a basketball game going on, so no skaters (or skateboarding lessons) for us :(
Fort Santiago was our last stop. We paid Php75 for entrance, and visitors can hire a kalesa for a tour (of the entire Intramuros too, plus a bit of history lesson on the side, for Php300-350 I think). We saw the Rajah Soliman Theater and the Rizal Shrine, and climbed the Sta. Barbara fortress on the tip of the fort.
We closed our day outside the walls. We hoped to see the sunset over Manila Bay, but we left too late to get to the Baywalk in time. We walked the whole length of Luneta Park instead. Our feet were staging a coup by then, so we didn’t linger inside the park anymore.
Although we had an eyeful of Intramuros, I’m sure this won’t be the last. The Philippines may have seen the first storm of the season, but I won’t let that put future walking plans in jeopardy. The universe occasionally conspires to make up for bad days, and when it does, I’ll be there for the taking :D