Seeing the thick walls of Intramuros seems to throw you back at the time when Spanish was the king of fliptop in the block. Yes, Intramuros is a piece of history slowly engulfed by the modern world within its walls. Jollibee, Macdonald’s and Starbucks are invading the walled city like K-Pop is to our airwaves like chocolate flavored oxygen or PSY’s Gangnam style is taking over YouTube by storm.. okay, stop!
So here we were finally at the oldest district and historical gem of Manila, with little sleep (woke up 3-4am just to catch up the bus going for CDO and the flight for Manila at 9am) and a bit tired from the long travel.
WORD OF CAUTION
Beware of some Kalesa or horse driven carriage in Intramuros because some (I hope not all) of them just wants to rip you off. Okay, this is how they go:
- They offer you a tour around Intramuros in a Kalesa ride for P350.
- In our case, the kalesa driver didn’t told us that the P350 is only good for 30 minutes. You pay for the exceeding minutes if you want to continue, that is if you know about it and we didn’t.
- Yes, he kept asking me about the time, but never even bothered explaining why or telling us clearly there’s a 30 minute limit for the P350 price tag. His kalesa by the way doesn’t have a sign that says P350 for 30 minutes.
- What’s even bad, you won’t be spending all of that 30 minutes in the kalesa ride. The driver will encourage you to hop out and the check places, take photos or explore if you want to.. and that is included in the 30 minute duration. If you happen to ride in the kalesa for only 5 minutes and then spend the rest of the 25 minutes exploring San Agustin Church, that’s P350 sir! What a sneaky dishonest wisecracks!
- Of course, he won’t tell you it’s already time until its almost an hour where the driver will tell you, you’re almost an hour so why not finish the hour for a premium price of P700.
- What made me upset was not the price tag, but the way we were being ripped off. As far as I can remember, our kalesa ride in total duration didn’t even reach 30 minutes because most of the time, we were hosted to hop out, explore and take photos as long as we want to.
- So, before hopping in to any kalesa ride, clear things out first so you won’t get caught off guard.
I’ve been here to Intramuros many times and even performed music way back 2003 when I was part of the music ensemble of IPAG or Integrated Performing Arts Guild. During those times, Intramuros was like the party center of Manila especially in the heyday of WOW Philippines done by the former secretary of tourism and now chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross – Richard Gordon.
10 years forward, Intramuros looked lonely and depressed as if forgotten by the ghosts of yesterday and ignored by the smartphone generation of today. Intramuros is just like an everyday alley passed by locals like it’s just an extension of their backyard not worth gawking about.
I guess that’s what happens if you grew up within or outside the ancient walls. The historical luster continues to fade with familiarity just like the old walls itself with time and pollution. For promdi’s (people from the province) like us whose lives are moved by photos and t.v. clips of Philippine history, we always see the sparkle in-spite an influx of modernity that is threatening our historical landmarks to oblivion.
None the less, Intramuros is a place you shouldn’t miss if your in Manila. Take a glimpse of it’s historical wonders as you walk along Spanish era streets and 400 year old buildings and ruins that still remain standing. Most of Intramuros original buildings were destroyed during World War 2 with only the Church of San Agustin surviving. So most of the buildings you see in the streets are just restorations and replicas of the past.
We were not able to explore most of Intramuros and we’re not able to get more photos, but it’s alright because that means we have a good reason to visit this place again.
Click here to know more about Intramuros
Veale otra vez!