It is a Sunday in Manila and it is our rest day for the business trip week here. As we heard it maybe unsafe to travel around via public transport in Manila, we signed up with a tour package of Manila with our hotel (New World Makati)
The tour package is around 4 hours long and cost 1,500 Pesos per person. We rendezvous with the tour guide at 9am at the hotel lobby. And off we go on his UV (Utility Vehicle).
First drive-thru for the day is the Makati Business District. The guide is very knowledgeable and gave an indepth explanation of the history of Makati. Previously this area is a swampland with many mosquitoes. After you get bitten by a mosquito, there will be an itch and this is called 'Makati' in Tagalog. Majority of the businesses and buildings in Makati are owned by the Filipino Chinese. Many decades ago, the main road was actually a runway. But rapid development in this area took place since the 80s to the present day bustling business district. It is a Sunday, so there is not much traffic in this area. Come during the weekdays and you will be surrounded by cars.
Thereafter we drive-thru the posh district of McKinley Road where the rich lives. There are tight security at different sections of this area with high-up walls. The guide told us this is the Beverly Hills of Manila. They have their own supermarket, own church and the Manila Polo Club for the residents of the area. The residence below is stayed by an ex-President of Philippines.
At the end of the road, we arrived at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. The workers here are much fortunate as this area is US State Land and the locals are paid via the US payroll. It is a large area with lots of greenery.
The landscape are beautifully decorated with 17k tombstones around.
The first stop for the day is at the memorial. And here we begin our walk through the halls.
There are many maps explaining about the liberation of Philippines during WWII. The execution plans and supply routes are highlighted in great detail.
We walked through the many columns with the names of the Missing In Action (MIA) being engraved upon the pillars. The emblem of the different States of America are depicted at the passage floor. Some serviceman were discovered later and a star was placed next to their name.
The 17,206 tombstones that are all imported and symmetrically positioned.
Thereafter we have a drive thru the old US base and pass through the 3rd largest mall in Asia - The Mall of Asia. This mall is also owned by a rich Filipino Chinese.
And we have a quick stop at Rizal Park where his memorial is. There is perpetually 2 guards standing in front of the memorial. Rizal is regarded to be a national hero in Philippines.
It is at this park where Rizal is said to be executed by the Spanish.
After a brief stopover, we proceeded on to Intramuros. Intramuros is an old Spanish fortress. Only the Spanish are allowed in there and it is strongly fortified.
Here we are crossing over the bridge.
The guide mentioned this is a very beautifully designed gate and is a must take photo.
We visited the museum dedicated to Rizal. Rizal is a doctor of medicine, linguists and he wrote books exposing the abuse by the Spanish. The Spanish discovered and imprisoned him. He was finally executed after 2 months of imprisonment. The Filipinos has a disdained towards the Spanish as the centuries of occupy in Philippines, they have taught the locals nothing. But towards the Americans, they have a very cordial and close relationship. They learnt many from the Americans and twice they liberated them from the Spanish and the Japanese.
From the Fort, we can see the Pasig River and directly opposite we have the Chinatown (notice the Pagoda).
No cars are allowed in the fort as they want the area to be child-friendly. Below are the different ammunition used in the fort - stone to cannons.
Next, we move on to Manila Cathedral.
They have just finished their morning mass.
And also San Augustus Church.
Coincidentally, there seems to be some mass wedding procession going on.
And we are back at the hotel at 1.15pm. Our guide is Frank P. Arnone and he is actually half-Italian, half-Filipino. He's a fabulous tour guide. If you would be interested to contact him, do drop me a mail and I can pass his contact over.