August 07, 2011

Stepping into History and Tinikling the Traditional Way

It was time for us to go back to Intramuros for an exploration. Intramuros is an old walled city left by the Spanish when they ruled the Philippines for 400 years. The thick stone walls are now weathered with years of use, pollution and a few world wars. Black tarnish and green moss compete for the most space of the wall. Inside narrow cobblestone streets are encased with European architectural buildings and piazza styled homes.

There are, of course, still the jeepneys and the poor areas of the city that remind you we are still in the Philippines, yet the European touch thrives. We parked the car in a lot in between two giant cathedrals dating back to the 1500s (one of which I have photos in the post “The Cemetery is closed...but the church is open”). Of course some guy wearing shorts and a white t-shirt came up and asked for money for parking. I paid him 20 pesos (Fifty US cents) even though I am pretty sure the lot was free public parking anyway. He watched Boeing while we were gone.

The northern most part of the city is Fort Santiago. In between the river and a moat, Fort Santiago is another walled complex within the walled city.  Both the Spanish and the Americans used the Fort at different times and remnants of their barracks can still be seen. The Spanish barracks are old red brick now crawling with beautiful vines and moss, while all that remains of the American barracks are large grey cement walls with boarded up windows. Tall trees and untrimmed bushes surround the house so even in broad daylight I thought it looked creepy. Lady Hiva said, “Cool! Can I have the camera to take a picture of that?” (Did I ever mention that I detest Halloween and that is her FAVORITE holiday? I prefer more happy holidays like Christmas.)

Jose Rizal was imprisoned here before his execution. I posted about him too before when we went to Rizal Park. He was the father of the revolution to free the Philippines from the Spanish colonizers. They have rebuilt the home he was imprisoned in and now is a memorial to him. He was a brave man, one who stood up for his beliefs even when it was a huge personal sacrifice.


We watched the end of a wedding at San Agustin Cathedral and decided from the two weddings we saw here in Intramuros, this must be the place where wealthy people get married. At the end of the wedding the couple let two white pigeons go. Must be symbolic, not sure how. I will have to ask someone. I thought it was funny because the pigeons only flew 5 feet and landed on the car just behind the photographer. I hope the length of the flight of the pigeons does not symbolize the length of the marriage. Yikes! Old ladies started to grab them to make them fly away but they just hopped to the other side of the car!

 Next we went to explore Casa Manila. A huge home built in the Spanish/Italian piazza style. The home looks like it is hundreds of years old, but truly is was a project of Imelda Marcos in 1981 so the building is about our age. It was beautiful—white rock walls, hardwood floors, elegant staircases, and a variety of chandeliers. They style of reminded us of Iolani Palace in Hawaii. We spent almost an hour looking around it. We liked it so much that even Lady Hiva, who tells me daily she DOES NOT want a big house when we build someday, said that she wants a house with an open court yard and all the rooms have large windows that open to it. Thanks Imelda. Actually, it was sad to think that this lavish house was built for tourism purposes when there were thousands of starving people that could have used the money.

We ended up eating at Barbara’s restaurant--a buffet that included a cultural dancing show all for under $30 total! Barbara’s has dark ornate pillars and furniture to match with white linen table cloths and expensive silverware. They sat us in the window booth that of course over looked the courtyard from the fourth floor. They staff was extremely friendly and wanted to know why we were only “eating a little bit.” The truth is, our plates were already piled high.

They did Spanish dances, traditional Filipino cultural dances from all the islands and some mixes of both (like Filipino dance steps to salsa music). I thought it was fun to see the tinikling steps. I remember when Madre had us go to Pier 1 Imports years ago to buy bamboo so she could teach her class how to tinikle. She had learned in Hawaii when she went to school there. I always thought it was a Hawaiian dance until I went to Hawaii to school and found out it was actually Filipino.  

1 comment:

  1. I love the pictures of the moss covered stairs and walkway.
    I can't believe how inexpensive everything is there. The cheapest parking we can find anywhere is about a $1 an hour.
    Enjoying your blog.