Manila is the capital City of the Republic of Philippines. It is the economic hub and thus has developed greatly in various sectors like infrustructure, education, financials and general lifestyle of the people. I however was overwelmed and happily so, with the history and culture that they appreciate and continue to maintain to date. I enjoyed the following activities and highly recommend the same:
1. Walk around Intramuros:
Intramuros is Spanish for “Within the Walls” as this town is fortified by high walls. The walls were built to protect the residents from invasions and still stand strong.
As I walked through the town, I felt like I had been teleported into the Spanish colonial times or what I think they may have looked like. On the walls, cannons stand ready to fight off any threat, the infrastructure is dominantly Spanish inspired with brightly coloured buildings and narrow streets. The soldiers protecting the residents are decked in uniform that is reminiscent of the Spaniard soldiers uniform.
It is also home to the first church ever built in the Luzon Isand-San Agustin Church. It was destroyed but later re-built in 1787-1797 which makes it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a beauty to behold and a masterpiece to marvel at as you walk through, make sure you say a prayer.
2) Attend a Celebration
I had the privilege of attending a religious ceremony-The Grand Marian Procession . It is a Catholic ceremony and is held in honour of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which celebrates the belief in the Immaculate Conception of Jesus by the Blessed Virgin Mary. It takes place every first Sunday in December and has been held annually since 1978. The event is held in the streets of Intramuros and is open to the public.
The followers are dressed to impress, with each of their clothes showcasing the different regions of the Philippines that they hail from. The air is filled with beautiful music in the form of hymns and choruses, different instruments accompany this and the people dance and pray.
The main showstoppers however are the different Christian artifacts that are on display. These are mainly sculptures of Mary and Jesus bedecked in shimmering jewellery, The Cross and the Bible. These are carried atop heavy podiums that are then carried on the shoulders of the church members. The feeling is overwhelming, the glow on the peoples faces, the emotions that fill the air, the joy, the prayers, the songs, a must attend experience.
3) Visit the Rizal/Luneta Park
It is an urban park that is located a few meters from Intramuros and shares stories of Philippines history. The park has lots to both educate and entertain any and all visitors. The Rizal Monument holds the remains of Dr.Rizal who is a national hero, the Japan Garden and Chinese Gardens showcase the friendship and culture of the countries, the colourful dancing pool is a spectacle and the variety of attractions will keep you there for several hours .
4) Go dancing
I had the chance to sample the party scene which is diverse and caters to different tastes. I got the chance to sample samba and salsa and now I have decided I need more lessons to become a pro.
5) Visit Resort World
This resort is not only beautiful from the outside, but amazing on the inside. It is a luxury resort and the shops, design, decor and service reflect the same.They even went out of their way to remind me that I am a Cinderella:-).
Always, always be open to make new friendships whenever you travel. I made friends who enabled me to learn more about Philippines, take pictures of me as I was travelling solo as well as interactions to empower my life. I was grateful to have an old friend assist and add flavour to my trip-Thank you Miano.
7) Ride a Jeepney
Jeepneys are the most popular means of transport in Philippines. They are brightly coloured, they are funky and most are face me, which means you and the other passengers face each other and they are affordable.
8) Let your inner child loose
a)Go in search of the boodlers,
These chaps always bring a smile to my face. Choose your fancy-Gold or Silver 🙂
b) Go in search of cute statues
c) Enjoy a train ride
This train allows you to sight see parts of Intramuros, without getting tired on foot. It is also quite cute so, take a ride.
9) Enjoy the delicacies
There is a great array of local dishes that will have you licking your fingers. Rice seemed like the staple food and then everything else. Their food is really delicious , thus go out and try. I ate a meal that seemed to be dancing on my plate-literally. Once it was put before me, it seemed like a vegetable but continuously the leaves would open and close. Now, that’s what I call a unique meal.
10) Go shopping
Philippines has shopping options for all types of tastes and pockets. I shopped, shopped and shopped. They are also quite liberal on matters dressing in most places. I was fascinated when I saw women in sometimes very short outfits, yet the men would in no way harrass them with cat calls or the like, as is common in some areas world wide.
Manila is an amazing place with a great mix of modernity and history. I truly enjoyed my stay here and I hope to return to experience more including the language.For more on Philippines experience, check out:
Philippines 101: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/philippines-101/