Today we had decided to see if we could actually see a bit of Manila in the daytime without having a blinding headache – you know, see the sights as it were. We decided upon a walk to Fort Santiago taking in some sights along the way and then we would wing it from there. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and off we went.
The first place we came to we took very little notice of when we crossed it yesterday in our much weakened state – Rizal Park. This is a memorial park dedicated to Jose Rizal, the Philippines national hero. After seeing the Filipino flag flying in front of the small obelisk and the Rizal Monument we went to the dedication to Rizal’s execution – it was his execution that sparked the Revolution in the Philippines. The illustration of the execution is in a small separate area – with a small fee (for foreigner only?) in which there are a lot of statues depicting Rizal’s grisly end at the hands of the firing squad.
It is quite graphic too so I am not sure whether or not little kids should see it but people behave differently out here and it seems to do them no harm – so what do I know? It also gives Rizal’s last poem, ‘My Last Farewell’ inscribed in granite as you enter and it is quite a poignant piece – not sure what I would have written prior to standing in front of a firing squad – quite possibly gibberish so not too far different from my ramblings now … lol. Next, in a small area fenced off was the Japanese Park so we paid this a visit as it seemed very popular with the locals. Some locals were dressed in red judo suits and had sticks with which they were performing Kung Fu like moves on each other – it looked quite violent but very ‘Bruce Lee’ in the confines of the park.
I have looked it up and this is the ancient art of either Arnis, Eskimo or Kali – take your pick.
From the park we went over to the Intramuros, the historic centre of Manila. As we entered through one of the arches you got a first hand impression of just how thick the walls were (2.4m thick) making it one impenetrable place. First up was to grab a bite at one of the locals more ‘rustic’ cafes then on to Casa Manila which has been renovated to look as it would have ‘back in the day’.
This was a lovely building complete with courtyard and the original (period) furniture in each of the rooms. Across the road from this was San Agustin church and we had arrived just as the mass was nearing its end, so the throng outside the church were somewhat excitable to say the least.
We did not stay long with the congregation as it seemed wrong to intrude but we looked instead around the museum next to the church. There were a great deal of art and artefacts some of it very good, some not so and some downright gruesome – a priest with an axe in his head! To keep the religious theme up we went from here to Manila Cathedral which was also enjoying a few ‘bums on seat’. This was okay but not as ornate or old as some of the other religious buildings we have seen on our travels. Next was our original intended destination – Fort Santiago which again played a part in the last few days of Rizal as it was where he was held captive.
The fort was well worth a visit as it had large exhibits as well as some cannon and in one of the older buildings it had an exhibition on Rizal explaining his life as well as his final days. Intramuros done, we walked along the Manila’s bay front which is quite a walk in the heat of the day so we soon decided to search out a shopping mall with the intention of taking in a film or at least cooling down. The shopping mall itself turned out to be better entertainment than the choice of film as lots of ‘young ‘uns’ were there done up in various sci fi costumes – not sure I knew any of the characters they were supposed to be! In my day you were either Star Trek or Robbie the Robot!
No film to watch we watched the Sci fi nerds and then decided a drink was in order so went round the corner to a Sports bar. Upon entering there were a lot of screens up with a couple of football matches on – one from the Premier so we ordered some beers and sat down at the bar. It was at this point Liz pointed out the ‘ladies’ in their appeared to have an agenda to chat up guys but as I was with her this was no problem … was it? We had been sat for about 5-10 minutes when an older Filipino woman who seemed to be somewhat worse for wear sidled up to where we sat. She started making smalltalk but whilst doing so was looking me up and down in what I supposed was her best ‘come to bed’ look. This was not only embarrassing but also there was a match on and it was quite difficult to concentrate on it. Liz was finding the whole situation very funny and decided to engage the woman in conversation asking what she was doing at the bar, her reply being ‘I am here fishing, fishing for men’!!! Now she did not look like Jesus or even one of his followers so I had no idea what this all meant but when Liz said she needed the toilet I told her she could not go! This was getting more and more uncomfortable and Liz was loving it more and more and finally a good samaritan came to my aid – a bouncer kicked her out. After the quiet drink we went off to an Indian recommended by the LP which was quite a good eat and cheap to boot – good day ended by good food.