Hellooooo! Welcome to Part 2 of A Day Tour of Metro Manila, a two-part series where I talk about the day tour we gave to a delegation of diplomats from Myanmar. You can check out Part 1 here.
(If I seem perkier than usual, forgive me. It’s been a long day, and I’ve had three cups of coffee in two hours to recharge myself.)
After we left BGC, we took the delegates to Intramuros to see old Manila. We wanted to bring them to Rizal Park and Fort Santiago but unfortunately, it started to rain. Still, even without visiting these places (although really, they’re a must-see for a first-time trip to Manila), we saw and learned a lot.
After taking the Myanmar diplomats around Makati and BGC, we headed to Intramuros for some good old-fashioned Spanish-style Manila. Our first stop was Casa Manila, a reconstructed house showing the lifestyle of the Filipino elite during the Spanish era in the Philippines. Unfortunately, we weren’t really allowed to take photos inside the house. However, I did manage to snap this gorgeous photo from the window of the courtyard outside.
Because I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, I was listening very intently to the tour guide and learned some rather interesting things!
- Wealthy families had a device called a punkah which is like a manually-operated electric fan. A giant swath of cloth affixed to the ceiling would move back and forth, providing a breeze for the occupants. It moved thanks to a mechanism which would be operated by a maid.
- Ice had to be imported from the United States and was kept in a cabinet that was salted to slow down the melting of the ice.
- The bathroom, called kasilyas, was not only a place in which one could relieve oneself, but you could also actually chitchat with your family members while doing your business. Inside, instead of one toilet, there were two, replete with arm rests! Talk about your clingy family.
San Agustin Church
Of all the places to see in Intramuros, this might just actually be my favorite. I’m not exactly the type of girl who dreams of getting married in a church (give me a garden, a mountain, or a beach any day) but if I absolutely had to get married in a church, San Agustin would be it.
San Agustin is the Philippines’ oldest church, with construction beginning in 1587 and finishing nineteen years later. The church has weathered several earthquakes and wars, and in 1993 was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site.
One of the church’s most fascinating features is its trompe l’oueil, an art technique that uses optic illusions to make it appear as though the depicted images are 3D. A modern-day example would be the Art In Island Exhibit in Cubao, Quezon City. San Agustin’s trompe l’oueil can be found in its magnificent ceiling.
The cathedral also has a museum which is open from 8AM to 12NN and then 1PM to 6PM.
There are more interesting things to see in the San Agustin Museum, but unfortunately your friendly neighborhood blogger-pretender is highly immature and thus, this was her favorite piece:
Closing Dinner at Sky Deck View Bar
We ended the Myanmar delegation’s visit to the Philippines with dinner and drinks at the Sky Deck View Bar in The Bayleaf Intramuros. As someone who spent her college years in this city (UST alumna right here!) the skyline of Manila will always have a special place in my heart. It was great to end such a tiring (but fulfilling, don’t get me wrong) week hosting these diplomats with a lovely rooftop and a lovelier view.