Philippines in 2007: Manila


A fellow blogger tweeted me and asked, Kat Pegi Mana? If you have seen my profile or have been following my blog, you would have known by now that Kat Pegi Mana means Where Is Kat Going in the Malay language. She was curious to know where my next travel destination is 🙂

Well, I will be travelling again in October and the destination is Philippines. It will be my second trip to the Philippines – the first trip was back in 2007 – many years before my blogging days. As I was researching on the internet recently on what I would like to do and see in the Philippines this time around, I couldn’t help but reminisce the first trip. And so I’d thought, for a change, I would like to share with you about my experiences 9 years ago.

Note: The photos were shot with a Canon point-and-shoot digital camera (can’t remember which model). At that time, I hardly experimented with the various settings in the camera. Hope you don’t mind the poor quality of the photos below 🙂

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My sister and I chose the Philippines, mainly for two reasons: firstly, it wasn’t a common travel destination for Malaysians back then as majority preferred to visit countries like Thailand or HK; and secondly, it was the only destination in South East Asia which we both hadn’t visited. At that time, I had begun to travel after several years of saving for an apartment whereas my sister had already visited many destinations in Asia. We had spent 5 days in the Philippines: 2 days in Manila and 3 days in Boracay Island.

Upon arrival in Manila, I remembered the long bus ride from Clark Airport to Manila city (the city is renowned for its massive traffic congestion). By the time, we checked into our hotel in Malate area and freshened up, it was late afternoon and we were starving. We headed to the nearest shopping mall and ate a delicious pork dish in the food court (can’t remember the name of the dish), and after that, we walked to Rizal Park.

Situated by Manila Bay, Rizal Park has historical significance in the Philippines history as it was the site where their national hero Jose Rizal was executed for spreading the flames of uprising and revolution against Spain in 1896.

manila rizal park monument

A monument and a statue of Rizal were made in his honour, and his remains are also enshrined in the monument. Locals like to take a stroll in Rizal Park or have picnics on the green especially in the evenings. Some of the attractions in the park are the Chinese gardens, the fountain park, the National Library and Museum. I believe there is an Oceanarium now which didn’t exist during my visit. Many high-profile national events took place in Rizal Park, one of which was the concluding mass of the papal visit of Pope Francis in 2015 where more than 6 million people attended, making it the largest papal gathering in history.

manila rizal park picnics

manila skyline

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The following day we explored the oldest district of Manila, the Intramuros. Intramuros means “within the walls” in Spanish and it was the centre of government, commerce, education and religion of Manila during the Spanish colonial period.

The walled city is located at the mouth of River Pasig where Fort Santiago was built to guard the old city. And within the protective stone walls was a city of palaces, churches, monasteries, convents, schools and beautiful colonial houses. Intramuros was attacked by the Japanese during World War II and it was massively damaged during the battle to recapture the old city.

Fort Santiago
Fort Santiago

Some of the interesting sights which we saw in Intramuros were the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church. We couldn’t go inside the Manila Cathedral at that time because there was a religious procession held outside the church to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yes, I remembered that day: it was 8th December 🙂

At Manila Cathedral
At Manila Cathedral

manila religious procession feast of immaculate conception

manila manila cathedral blessing of statues

We were able to enter San Agustin Church – a baroque church – and it is the oldest building in Manila since the 1600s.

San Agustin Church
San Agustin Church

Another interesting site which we had visited was Casa Manila, a historical house-cum-museum representing the palatial lifestyle of the gentry during the Spanish colonial period. I recalled that the house was actually a reconstruction by Imelda Marcos to exhibit the Spanish-influenced architecture and interior design of a typical colonial property.

I don’t have any photos of San Agustin Church and Casa Manila. For some reason, the images are no longer available in my folders. I might have deleted those photos – who knows, it was so long ago, I couldn’t remember what happened to them!

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Other than Rizal Park and Intramuros, we didn’t get the chance to visit other attractions because we only had two days in the city and we already knew that getting from one place to another in Manila can be a hellish experience due to the traffic congestion in the city. Nevertheless, we had a great time, and whenever we recollect our moments in Manila, we felt that Intramuros was the site which we had enjoyed the most.

I’m looking forward to my second trip to Manila in October as I hope to explore more of the city. If you have any suggestions on the things to do and see in Manila, please share in the comments section below. Cheers!

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