Last weekend, having realised that we haven't really left our neighbourhood in the 3-4 months we've lived here, we went out and did some good old fashioned sightseeing. We decided to start with Intramuros, the oldest part of Manila. It was settled by the Spanish in the 16th Century and was mostly destroyed in World War II. Some of it has been rebuilt since then, but the evidence of damage is everywhere.
We read about a very popular walking tour run by Carlos Celdran and decided it would be the best way to get an introduction to the area. It was great because until now we have only really read or heard snippets of Manila's history, and Carlos' talks serve as a great crash course - at least up until WWII (apparently he has another performance that covers post-WWII and the Marcos era). It was also nice to see a much older, prettier part of Manila in contrast to the modern business district we live in.
This is the gate to Fort Santiago - it is mostly a reconstruction as it was damaged in the war.
I'm not sure what this building's story is, we walked past it on our way out of Fort Santiago. Looks like it was under attack at some point.
Pasig River seen from Fort Santiago
The St Augustin Church was turned into a Red Cross Centre during the war and so was spared from damage in the Battle of Manila.
The tour ended in this lovely courtyard with icy Halo-Halo (Filipino dessert) for all.
Carlos Celdran has been in the news this week - you can read about why here. Obviously I don't know enough about Philippine laws and culture to be able to comment on this, but let's just say I was pretty shocked that there is still a law hanging around in 2013 that can send people to jail for 'offending religious feelings'...
After the tour we went to a very mysterious (and delicious) dinner in an old mansion that was so good it deserves its own post. To be continued!