Carlos Celdran’s “Walk This Way” Theatrical Tour of Intramuros
At the heart of the Philippines lies probably the country’s most historic city, Manila, where until now evidences of the rich past still exist or seemingly evident. Through its narrow streets, the city was bustling with business and trade during the infancy years of the country. From battles to wars, triumph and defeat, revolutions, politics, religion- the thick stone walls have witnessed it all. Today, an icon in the Manila tourism industry will take us back in time as we walk within the walls of Intramuros.
Intramuros, in latin, literally means ‘within the walls’ for the area, which was originally Manila, is enclosed by this thick barriers to protect the Spanish colonials from attacks. Within its protective curtain is a city which stood as the center of commerce, trade, religion and politics.
Fortunately during my intern years in Living Asia Channel, two of my O.J.T. buddies and I were part of the team assigned to cover Team Manila’s launching of its new apparel. Part of the program was a tour in Intramuros led by Carlos Celdran. Yes he’s the guy involved with the reproductive health bill, but more importantly, the famous Manila guide, took us on a theatrical tour accompanied by music, costumes, and a very detailed story telling inside Intramuros.
Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception informally known as Manila Cathedral
Plaza de Roma’s Statue of King Carlos IV of Spain
Theatrical tour guide, Mr. Carlos Celdran
Before the walk began, participants of the tour group consisting of event organizer’s, guest and members of the media, gathered in front of the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, also known as, Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Concepcion, blaaaah, let’s just call it Manila Cathedral. The Church was originally built in 1581 but had underwent eight rebuilding and renovations after being devastated by several strong earthquakes and bombed during the Battle of Manila in 1945.
In front of the Cathedral is the main square of Intramuros called Plaza de Roma where a statue of King Carlos IV of Spain was built for providing smallpox vaccines. If I am not mistaken, this was the original Kilometer Zero before it was moved in Rizal Park (needs confirmation on this).
Under the heat of the scorching midday sun, Carlos Celdran leading the tour to the next destination.
Ruins of Ateneo Municipal de Manila
Long before Ateneans enjoy numerous restaurants, coffee shops, and other establishments along their current home in Katipunan Avenue, Ateneo Municipal de Manila or Ateneo, once stood within the Walled City before transferring to Padre Faura in Ermita then to Katipunan Avenue. When we passed by the former Ateneo, all that’s left of it are ruins of high walls, open grounds and a colorful history. One well known student among the Filipinos was our beloved Dr. Jose Rizal who finished his secondary studies and graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Sports, arts & youth – these are the active and modern faces of Intramuros.
We went on with our afternoon leisure walk until we reached the San Agustin Church which is the longest standing cathedral surviving wars and bombings. Inside the Church, the Spanish influence of grandeur is evident from all corners. Damaged monasteries near San Agustin Church are now a museum which holds graves of Spanish governor-generals and other prominent icons during its time. Spanish colonial religious and cultural artifacts are also displayed in the museum.
San Agustin Church
Corridor to the museum.
Listening to Carlos Celdran felt like walking back in time during the colonial days just by the way he described architectures and history to the smallest detail, adding lots of trivia in a comedic approach. Not to mention the props, costume, and music adding flavor to the tour. Everything worked effectively wherein an image in your mind would be as vivid as glass. The next time I take this tour, I’d be bringing a small tickler and a pen, write down all trivia that I can then share it with you. Scratch that. Maybe I can’t. I kind of have a thing for history and that would definitely get me hooked. Carlos Celdran’s “Walk This Way” experience was a fun and colorful way of studying and understanding the rich history of the nation’s capital.
I would also like to extend my gratitude to Living Asia Channel where I spent my internship months. Aside from all the learning experiences I harnessed inside and outside the office, I was able to go places where I haven’t been which gave me opportunity to explore more of my photography. In Manila’s most popular tourist destination, Intramuros, photography without permit is prohibited. Lucky me to be a part of a media team who has shooting privileges, I had a window to shoot. Why not allowed? Security, conservation, well , that I don’t know. We went there recently and security guards asked for permits. No permit, no picture… in the most popular tourist destination in Manila.
Now here are some fast facts that may help you (or me) in this trip:
1. This trip was held back in 2010.
2. Rates of Walk This Way tours are P1,000.00 for adults and P500.00 for students.
3. For more Carlos Celdran tours, check his website, Walk This Way.
4. I think students should be exposed in trips like these.
5. HELP HERE! I want to know why photography is prohibited in Intramuros? Why does tourists and photographers, especially enthusiast, need to secure a permit before actually shooting? Please enlighten me, I really don’t have an idea.
6. Thank you for reading my blog. Enjoy and be safe on your trip.
Intramuros police in a Spanish-colonial soldier uniform.