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Friday, February 10, 2012

Intramuros: Reliving Stories of the Walled City

Tucked in the bustling metropolis is a 64-hectare walled district called Intramuros. Also nicknamed as the Walled City, this historical site in Manila has seen, heard and experienced both the best and the worst since the 16th century. Despite enduring battle scars from not only the World War II, but also of numerous fires and earthquakes, its walls still stand tall. It stands proud as it encloses ruins, mementos, and stories waiting to be told.

01 Intramuros Light 02 Intramuros Tunnel

With Mr. Jeff Velasco of Mabuhay Guides, a Philippine Department of Tourism tour guiding program, fellow bloggers and I had the chance to see, appreciate, and relive some of the stories inside the walled city -- some of which are of military leaders and soldiers who had fallen after the era of foreign occupation; of heroes who had suffered and died for the country; of lovers who either found happiness or endured countless heartbreaks; and of wandering souls who've grown old with the walls.

Our first stop was Baluartillo De San Francisco Javier which had once protected the old postern gate from Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and even Portuguese invaders. It used to be a chamber for stored military supplies. But today, it houses the Intramuros Visitors Center -- a convenient first-stop providing general information about the Walled City, as well as facilities such as a photo gallery, an audiovisual room, a souvenir shop, and stores for snacks and refreshments.

04 Baluartillo De San Francisco Javier 03 Baluartillo De San Francisco Javier
Intramuros Visitors Center

We've also visited Fort Santiago, one of the oldest fortification in the city which had played different roles through different ages -- a site of the native settlement of Raja Soliman before the Spanish occupation; a citadel during the Spanish colonial period; a military headquarters during the American rule; a prison and torture chamber of the Japanese military; and today, a heritage site housing legacies of what it once was.

05 Fort Santiago
07 Fort Santiago Driveway 06 Fort Santiago Gate

Beyond the 40-feet tall gateway of Fort Santiago lies a historical park housing Rizal Shrine, a site filled with well-preserved memorabilia of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Upon entering, a painting by the National Artist Carlos "Botong" Francisco entitled The Martyrdom of Rizal, greets unwary visitors with both grandeur and sadness.

08 The Martyrdom of Rizal by Carlos Botong Francisco 09 The Martyrdom of Rizal by Carlos Botong Francisco

Most of us already know Rizal's martyrdom, a consequence he had to face for standing proud as a Filipino and wanting more for the Philippines. However, his life as a hero was not only filled with patriotism and fighting spirit. He too, lived a colorful and adventurous life -- of ups and downs, of happiness and sadness, and of fun and surprises. He traveled a lot and was conversant in 22 different languages. Among his talents and skills, he honed himself and became a doctor, a writer, a painter, a sculptor, and above all, a lover.

10 Leonor Rivera 11 Part of Jose Rizal's Spine

And although many women had crossed path with our Philippine renaissance man, Rizal's love for the country was far superior. He spent the last 3 months of his life in jail and walked his way to Bagumbayan where he was shot by a squad of the Spanish Army's Filipino soldiers.

12 Prison Chapel 13 Rizal's Footsteps

Following Rizal's last footsteps, our group walked from Fort Santiago and made our way to the most prominent Roman Catholic basilica in the country, one which withstood damages of great magnitude yet managed to survive -- the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, also known as Manila Cathedral.

Manila Cathedral
14 Manila Cathedral 15 Inside Manila Cathedral

The Manila Cathedral, a basilica which managed to be merited three Papal endorsements and two Apostolic visits, is not only a house built on faith and religion, but also one which will continuously remind us of the Spaniards' strong cultural influence on our current way of living. It has been a symbol of how we Filipinos had embraced Roman Catholicism in the country.

Not far from the Manila Cathedral stands another Roman Catholic shrine -- the San Agustin Catholic Church. Although the former boasts of being granted a Basilica Minor status, the latter on the other hand is proud to be the oldest Philippine church still standing up to date.

16 San Agustin Church
17 San Agustin Church Wedding

Despite a series of fires and earthquakes, the Agustinians managed to rebuild a third San Agustin Catholic Church from hewn adobe stones with the help of talented stone artisans. Although the church holds regular schedules of worship, San Agustin has been known to be one of the most sought-after churches for lovers tying the knot.

Another feat in Intramuros is not a preserved historical artifact, but a well-known coffee shop situated in the fortified site. Far from the usual modern and cozy ambiance that Starbucks often exudes, its Intramuros branch will not only bring you back to the past through a sip of its Komodo Dragon Blend, but also through its simple yet quaint tunnel-like adobe walls and ceilings -- a perfect spot for re-energizing wanderers.

Starbucks Starbucks Intramuros
Starbucks Coffee Starbucks Tasting

Our walk within the Walled City may have been short, insufficient to appreciate all the beauty of what lies within Intramuros. However, I consider it to be a teaser, a beginning of my yearning to visit it yet again.

Only its walls can tell if my next would be another tour-guided walk to historical sites we have missed; a solo trip to explore the Walled City like a stray cat would; or perhaps a next visit to San Agustin, but this time, with a man on my arm.

20 Tranvia 19 Intramuros Kitten 18 San Agustin New-Weds

This is a Travel Write-up entry to the Intramuros Bloggers Challenge 2012 organized by IntramurosManila.Asia.

IBC 2012 is fully supported by the Intramuros Administration, Barbara's Restaurant, Celdran Tours, Mabuhay Guides, Pilgrimage Pilipinas, Castillan Tours, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation, Inc., DigiEntrepreneur, DigitalFilipino, Third Team Media, Payless Pancit Shanghai, Ruthilicious, Ruthilicious Fanpage and GadgetGambit.com.

70 comments :

  1. Intramuros! Would want to go there again soon! Last year I went to Fort Santiago with my family. :)

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  2. Gosh, Sumi, kala ko food photography ka lang magaleng. I am so familiar with Intramuros because I went to college in Mapua and Letran. Naikot ko na ang buong Intramuros and your photos have captured it beautifully. Really impressive photos.

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  3. Great shots!
    I was still in high school when we went to Fort Santiago, and last time I went back to Intramuros was during Visita Iglesia last year, which I also blogged about. :)

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  4. It's been years since I last visited Intramuros, it's a favorite spot when we're having photoshoots for our photohjournalism class. would love to visit there again.

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  5. Never been to intramuros.
    Or maybe yes, when I was still a little kid.
    cool photos you have there. :P

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  6. Never been to Intramuros nor seen the facade of it. I didn't imagine it to be this beautiful and historical at the same time. Bagsak yata ako sa Social Studies/History hehe.. Anyways, thanks for sharing the pictures. Intramuros is way similar to walled city of Jerusalem. Great pictures by the way.

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  7. I've been to Intramuros a hundred times now pero I haven't been lucky to join any blogger's event there.

    Panalo talaga sa Fort Santiago especially sa dami ng subjects na pwede mong kunan. =)

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  8. Nice shots! Been there for the first time January last year. We enjoyed the whole trip though medyo spooky nga lang walking along the narrow pathways of Fort Santiago. Wild imagination I guess ;)

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  9. There's so much stories that the tall, thick walls have to say. I miss Intramuros. BTW, great shots :)

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  10. Hi Sumi! ^__^ Nice meeting you too. :) I love your pictures especially the one inside San Agustin Church. We weren't able to take a peek inside. Sayang.

    I didn't notice the medal na naka-hang sa lamp post, hehe :D

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  11. Ang ganda ng Intramuros! More people will surely want to visit the walled city because of your photos!

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  12. lovely photos! what lens are u using? :) loooove ur shots! hope to go back to Intramuros soon.

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  13. I feel like a total loser... I've never been to Intramuros. EVER. I don't think I'm a Filipino anymore. *cries* Haha! Aw... man. The place looks great!

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  14. Been here but haven't got the chance to explore. Those are cool photos.

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  15. Great Pics and Post, thanks for sharing!

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  16. Intramuros was my haven when I was still living in Malate. I remember heading there every weekend, I climbed atop the walls to sit there and just do nothing. I relived that today through your photos :)

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  17. ang ganda Sumi!! Been to Intramuros nung college field trip namin.. soooo long ago na yun.. hehe.. hope to come back again very soon!! Love your photos!! ;)

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  18. Awesome shots! Not a stranger to the place 'cause I live in Manila but your pictures made it look like a place worth visiting again. :)

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  19. @I am R0ckstarm0mma!: I only use the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my Canon 550D, but I hope I can borrow lenses from my photog friends soon.. XD

    @Aileen: Don't worry, it's not too late to check the Walled City. Try to go to Intramuros when you have free time. It's worth a visit.. :)

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  20. Intramuros is such a place rich in history. I just feel sad of the destruction during ww2

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  21. nice pics. I went with foreign friends last year and got to walk atop the walls.

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  22. Sana i can visit this one of this many days!

    :) thank u

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  23. I hope I could join the tour next time around. I hope to meet you too Sumi.

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  24. It's been ages now since the last time I visited Intramuros, but even then, I could not forget the fantastic memories and how I fell in love with the beauty and historical relevance of this heritage and so I still hope to find myself falling in love again in this walled city.

    thanks for sharing these photos.

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  25. nice shots! nakapagreminisce na naman ako. hehe! miss ko na intramuros. =)

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  26. Minsan ko pa lang napuntahan yan pero ang naalala ko diyan ay Golf Course... O_o

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  27. I was six when my parents toured me at Intramuros. Honestly, I do not have the perfect memory remembering the place. All my parents say is that I cried a lot when it's time for us to go back then.

    Guilty. I feel kinda guilty. I always wanted to wander historical sites around the globe but failed to visit and reflect our own.

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  28. I can't wait to travel again. Love the shots! Super professional pagkaka-kuha :)

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  29. You take very interesting photos!
    I have to say I've become a fan!
    I hope to take my own shot of the walled city..
    and we both know, Intramurous may have already been photograph almost in every angle.
    Yours look unique, and I want to achieve the same.

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  30. love your photos. intramuros has always been a favorite place of mine to practice photography. my son and i frequent it too so he can practice shooting as well. good luck with ur entry.

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  31. Hi Sumi, I've always been fascinated with Intramuros. Your post is so informative. Great photos, too! =D

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  32. I can't remember the time when I went to Intramuros. I wated to go back again because of your post .

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  33. you captured the essence of Intramuros in one article..great entry!

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  34. Lovely photos! And thanks for sharing this tour to us. I feel like I've been with you guys as well.

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  35. Great shots Sumi! Love it! You really captured the beauty of Intramuros! :)

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  36. the last time i went there (last year), we had a tour guide too! it was a whole lot better with a guide i learned loads and enjoyed as well.

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  37. Love the photos, Sumi! Beautiful! =)

    I missed this challenge. I had to attend a birthday party for a nephew e. Hay! Hope there will be one soon. Do you have an idea of the tour is free or how they charge? =)

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  38. I love that place if ever cguro that we have wheels we also attend that gathering

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  39. Intramuros or walled city is one of the important historical artifacts of the country, which are being preserved until now. The photos are reminiscence of the past of the early century, especially during the era of Spanish conquistadores.

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  40. some pics are not showing... i regret to not taking time to visit intramuros and dig down to history when i was living in manila... magaganda pala, beyond just the photos... very rich. happy at least that despite the new era, intramuros is somehow preserved. will visit when i return for sure.

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  41. We were required to go to Intramuros, San Agustin Church, Bahay Tsinoy, National Museum etc for History class back in college and boy was I glad that we were required to go! I really enjoyed getting to know our history better by getting up close with these remnants from a time long gone. While I was at Intramuros, it felt so eerie yet fascinating walking where others from the past have walked. It's almost as if I can hear them walking with me. Eeriest part was the dungeons! Really freaked me out. Hehe I wish I participated in that walk! Would have been fun visiting it again with fellow bloggers :D

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  42. It's been a long time since I visited Intramuros. I guess it's time for me to bring the kids there. Good luck to you entry!

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  43. Ohhhh! Intramuros! Good, old college days! Ganda ng mga kuha mo! Keep it up!

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  44. Ganda ng mga pictures. SAlamat at parang nag-tour na rin ako. Never been there e (saklap). Thanks for this post. KIU.

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  45. Very nice pictures. Makes me want to go back there again. Nice accompanying texts too.:)

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  46. Great photos! This is one place on my list

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  47. I love going to Intramuros. I got married at Manila Cathedral and it was the happiest day of my life (a dream come true!)

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  48. By seeing this pictures, I remember my college days.. I always pass by this area when going to Mapua

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  49. The last time I've been to Intramuros was in college but no tours like this. The place is so pretty and so rich in culture. Sometimes I think it would be nice if the Philippines preserved that look all over the country. Going there takes me back to the history books I've been reading, parang time travel lang. :D

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  50. never thought that intramuros is as beautiful till I saw your photos.

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  51. Oh, beautiful, historical Intramuros. The last time na pumunta ako ng Manila, nasa plano talaga ang pagbisita sa Intramuros. Kaso hindi natuloy kasi kapos sa oras.. ginabi kami sa Bagiuo. tsk tsk..

    Hoping I could visit this place soon..

    Great pictures, btw, ms Sumi. :)

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  52. Great shots!! I miss Philippines more!!!

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  53. Wonderful article! I am in awe. Galing!

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  54. Almost three years of working inside the Walled City and I am just beginning to appreciate the place I go to for five days a week. Hope to see Intramuros with fresh eyes kahit na sanay na ako sa aking surroundings. :)

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  55. I'm very much a fan of the aesthetics of the old world. These pictures of Intramuros are really nice Sumi! I hope to see more of your photography. ^_^

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  56. sis sumi! sorry im kinda ignorant with the walled city.. how much an entrance fee there? I haven't been there kasi.. and may i know how to get there? thanks!

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  57. Since the time I saw a photographs of my neighbors when they had a trip in Manila, I told myself that one day, I should really get to that place. Then, it happened when I had the chance to work in Manila for two years. These places in the pictures are familiar especially those footsteps of Rizal. Then, there was Rizal movie produced by GMA 7. It made me love Rizal even more. The best thing about it was when I went back to school to finish my BSE degree, I a flat 1 mark for the subject Rizal.

    This place is something we as Filipinos can trace back our golden history.

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  58. The Walled City is a place where we Filipinos can trace our golden history. It pays to visit this place once in a while.

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  59. More than enjoying the photos and reminiscing history, I enjoying how your literary prowess captured a perfect representation of once a bastion of freedom, the frontline for all that has been written about it.

    I came to visit the walled city, that is Intramuros countless of times, but in each of those visit I find varying experiences and feeling. My mind has always been atuned to travel back in time and visualize how it has really been during those time. And from the imagination sparks the poet in me.

    This entry is strong enough to be rank among the top, if not the top. One thing I just vividly noticed is that you're not only at par with food review and articulate description but you can have a shot to be a historian. Kudos

    RATING: ***** (five sparkling star)

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  60. More than enjoying the photos and reminiscing history, I enjoy how your literary prowess captured a perfect representation of once a bastion of freedom, the frontline for all that has been written about it.

    I came to visit the walled city, that is Intramuros countless of times, but in each of those visit I find varying experiences and feelings. My mind has always been atuned to travel back in time and visualize how it has really been during those times. And from the imagination sparks the poet in me.

    This entry is strong enough to be rank among the top, if not the top. One thing I just vividly noticed is that you're not only at par with food review and articulate description but you can have a shot to be a historian. Kudos!

    RATING: ***** (five sparkling star)

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  61. I am hoping I will visit Intramuros one day. I've passed it every time I go to Manila. I always have no time to go and see what is look like in the real thing. BTW what a beautiful picture.

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  62. This is my favorite tambayan when I was in college.. haistt...the place is indeed beautiful http://pinoymanila.com/

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  63. Hi SUmi! Another interesting post! Thanks for showing us the beauty of Intramuros. The last time Ive seen this was when I was in high school. Still awesome. Would love to visit this place again :))

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  64. Nice photos and article! Iba ka talaga Sumi, you made us walk Intramuros through your photos and descriptions.

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  65. haha... honestly, not been to intramurus... but the shots you took made me feel curious about the place and wants to go there someday soon... i hope. Yahweh bless.

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  66. that's a very well-detailed virtual tour for me. I haven't been to Intramuros and have been thinking going there since I heard of that place.

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  67. i love your shots and your article too.. for the win Sumi! See u soon!

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  68. ayun oh hahhaa, di ko pa natry mag shoot ng san agustin yung sa taas ha...

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  69. I have always wanted to visit intramuros. Perhaps when I get a proper camera I'll be inspired to go out and explore too.

    The architecture of the buildings really are beautiful!

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