Manila and Its Architecture

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is best known as the place of trade and industries - an urban jungle where the roar of jeepneys interlaced with their blackish smoke; where people are like wild animals fighting for space. But wait, there is a soft side of this busy metropolis.

Bound for Quiapo 
Being a teacher never stopped me from exploring different places and learning different culture instead, it broadened my horizon of what to share to my students about the real world - their stage of life where they are the primary actors and actresses playing their own role as best as they can for there are no reruns and no rewinds.

This also applies true to myself: I never made reruns and rewinds despite the failures and mistakes I did in the past. I have always been a fighter of my own show - battling the sadness and pains that came along with the psychosocial war I am living in.

As a solo traveler, this armor of independence geared me to always win a war of uncertainties and deceits I might encounter along my journey. And so it began my thirst of some more adventures - braving the streets of one of the busiest places in the country: Manila.

January 19 - 20, 2015 - I had two reasons why I took a 22-hour ship ride bound to Manila. First, I was discouraged of my last air trip when I went to Davao on the 1st week of April. It was one heck of a ride! The plane was never steady and it was always bumpy that it gave me an almost panic attack in a 35,000 something altitude. So, with a ship, I could go on to a more relaxed cruising. Second, I had never tried boarding this large "amphibian-like-machine" and experiencing it meant a check mark on my simple bucket list.

I arrived in Manila, Pier 4, on a very hot high noon and soon, I was on my feet looking for a jeepney or a taxi bound to Quiapo, a ditrict in Manila. I was lucky enough that I was able to ride a "jeepney" with a fellow Cebuano going to the same place. It was easier for me this way at least, I won't speak too much of Tagalog (where I considered as an uncomfortable and difficult dialect for me) while going through all the transactions.

Finally, after a few minute ride to Quiapo, I met my close friend who would come with me for a short tour around Manila. Since Manila was my jump-off point for my journey to Sagada, Mt. Province, I needed to secure a bus ticket first before wandering around the city.
And so my short Manila tour began...

Churches - San Sebastian, Black Nazarene and the Manila Cathedral

I still had 7 hours before my trip from Manila to Baguio so I took the opportunity to visit different places around the vicinity while I still could.

San Sebastian Church in Quiapo Manila, built on 1934, is considered as a National Cultural Treasure declared by the National Museum. The church was uniquely designed using metals manufactured from Belgium. Though in the very site there were several churches built in the past but weren't able to withstand strong earthquakes since the 17th century, San Sebastian Church this time has become a symbol of resiliency amid disasters.
The Church of the Black Nazarene - hailed as a basilica where the Black Nazarene (the Black Jesus) is found and is considered miraculous. The Feast of the Black Nazarene is held every January every year where devotees from different places visit the Black Nazarene.
The Manila Cathedral - located in Intramuros, this church awed me to the "Nth" level. Though it was already dark when we visited the place, the facade, itself, took my breath away. This church, like all other historical churches, withstood the test of time.
Intramuros - walking on a cobbled-stone in peaceful evening.
It was 6 in the evening when we arrived in Intramuros. I always heard the place during the days when I was in school as part of our history class but I never had the chance to visit it years back even how many times I had gone to Manila. Without losing another chance again, I asked my friend if we could take a look at Intramuros.
And so when I stepped foot on the cobbled-stone in Intramuros, I was felt myself in a different dimension - the days where Filipina ladies wore their Spanish-inspired costumes; where the "kalesa", a horse driven carriage was still its primary means of transport and where Spanish friars still ruled the city. I fell in love with the place instantly because of its well-preserved heritage of the past and simply, because on that evening, I felt I was in a different place other than the busy and complex metropolis.
Luneta and the Water Dance

It was getting darker when we decided to visit the Luneta Park (the place where our National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal was executed on 1896 by a firing squad during the Spanish regime). This time now, the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal stands proud as a symbol of the Filipino's undying thirst for freedom and independence.

The park becomes a rendezvous for a family picnic, lovers date and singles who just want to relax. It has a huge water fountain with lights in different colors that maximizes a vibrant atmosphere.

Here, I was like a kid awed by the dancing light fountains until all the "wow's" uttered from my mouth became uncountable I was watched the lively water show.

Luneta Park was the last stop for this quick tour before I got in the bus for my Northern Luzon Adventure.
Chinatown in Binondo

I was already back in Manila from my Mountain Province tour when I visited the Chinatown in Binondo. I remembered that there was a delicious Chinese restaurant that serves rice with chicken feet somewhere in this area but I failed to remember its name. What I did, I went to a restaurant that pleased my eyes (I chose the purple-themed resto since it caught my attention). There wasn't something new in the menu so I chose braised beef and Thai Red Tea for dinner. It was good enough comparable with my usual order in a dimsum restaurant in my city but I just enjoyed the warm atmosphere of the place especially the waitress who served me. She was so smiling!
(Cafe Mezzanine is the Chinese Restaurant's name.)
It was a simple dinner treat for me before I dashed for another adventure - My Southern Luzon Roadtrip.

More about Manila in these articles:
1. Manila: Of Love and Friendship
2. Manila: Of Food, History and Arts
3. Manila: Of Fate and Devotion
4. Manila: You Gave Me Both Worlds
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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