Manila Sight-Seeing: When an Intramuros Walking Tour Turns into a Pedicab Tour

Who says one cannot travel with an injured foot?  Well I did…but with a little help of a reliable pedicab.  If  biking sounds too exhausting ( like when I biked around Angkor Wat wearing my blue dress)  then pedicab tour is a great alternative.  I wonder why we have no pedicab tours here?  I’ve seen lovely yellow pedicabs decorated with flowers in Penang and Melaka pedaled by locals touring  visitors around the city despite the unforgiving sun. Pedicab experience allows in-depth touring that’s otherwise seen only in bike or walking tours.

Intramuros photo

If my memory serves me correctly, it was back in March of 2009  when I did this Manila sight-seeing tour.  A few days after my  ankle got sprained during my solo trip to Sagada, I decided to revisit Manila.  It was the height of my solo domestic traveling, I had an itchy foot back then (I still have but I can control it now), I felt the need to travel weekly those days.
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I was born in the province but I moved to Quezon City to study in a university in Diliman and spent most of my 4 years in college inside the campus because I was either stuck in the dorm doing my papers or working part-time at the Main Library.  So while my siblings experience Manila at it’s worst (they lived in Makati with my aunt because they studied in Manila), I  was lucky and thankful that I never got the chanced to experience its flooded street (except for its traffic and pollution) or worse, encountered pickpockets (like my poor brother) or worst, got robbed at gunpoint (like my poor sister).   However,  I was also deprived of seeing  the best of  Manila, the only travel memory I can remember here  are the bus rides to and fro my campus during weekends.

“Padjak  po Ma’am 10 pesos lang”,  the pedicab drivers  swarmed me one fine sunday.  Despite my  aching ankle, I ignored their humble offer, determined to do my own version of  the Old Manila Walk.  Padjak  is the Tagalog term for pedicabs in Manila.  A pedicab somewhat operates like a  rickshaw, it’s a bicycle with an attached seat for 2 passengers.

Intramuros photo
So I walked past the golf course  then further into what seemed like the entrance to start my Manila sight-seeing tour.  I know this is not the typical way to start the walking tour of  Intramuros but it’s the only entrance I knew of  that time.  Then came the unexpected, I don’t know where to head to, and my  injured foot is starting to hurt real bad.   I turned around and spotted a pedicab driver waiting for passengers,  then he drove towards me.  ” Ma’am,  estudyante po ba kayo?  Gusto nyo po, ako na lang mag-tour sainyo?  Php150 po lang po sa unang oras tapos Php100 per hour after the 1st hour”,  his sales pitch then started.   He showed me a list of the places with photos that we can tour around.  I was surprised to see that Intramuros is quite huge and has a lot of interesting places to offer unlike Fort Cornwallis in Penang, Malaysia.  I later found out that the pedicab tour is somewhat done discreetly because as the driver said, the normal tour is that of the kalesa (or calesa), a horse-drawn carriage and he illegally copied that list from one of  the kalesa drivers.

calesa photo

Intramuros is referred to us the walled city.  A Spanish-style fortified city where  churches, government buildings, museums, plazas, schools, stately houses, etc,  are all enclosed in its massive  walls.  It is said to be one of the old world’s poster cities for discrimination. Reason behind is, only the Spanish ruling classes were allowed to live here .  Unfortunately, the World War II  heavily destroyed the once powerful city,yet still, walking through the remnants of its past gives tourists that nostalgic feel.  I’m no  history buff and this tour was back in 2009, so let me breeze through my trip with short historic details from the Intramuros administration.

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Armed with my old digital camera and my injured feet, I  started my walking tour at the road to MAPUA University.  I got there by getting off the jeep at  the Manila City Hall (the building with the clock tower) and crossing through the underpass.  This was the  only route I’m familiar with at that time.

Some Places to Visit in Intramuros:

Walls, Gates and Bastions

Puerta (gates) Del Parian , one of the earliest entrances to Intramurus and Revellin del Parian  which was built in 1603 following Chinese uprising.  The gates here have drawbridges giving access to the outside world.

Baluarte (bastion) de San Gabriel, the Walled City’s most important defense in the north that protected the riverside.

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Puerta de Isabel II , said to be  the last gate built in Intramuros. (see photo above.)

Revellin de Real de Bagumbayan was used as prison cells during the Japanese occupation.

cannon photo

Baluarte de San Diego noted for its circular fort is one of the oldest fortifications in Intramuros.

Fort Santiago photo
Fort Santiago  is perhaps the most famous part of  Intramuros where Rizal  (The Philippine’s National Hero) was imprisoned before his execution. It is originally the site of Rajah Solayman’s settlement prior to Spanish occupation and rule.  The US destroyed the fort during the Battle of Manila and was soon restored.  It houses Rizal Shrine where the life and works of Jose Rizal are displayed. I paid Php 75 for entrance fee while children and students are charged Php 50.

Plazas

Plazuela de Sta. Isabel photo

Plazuela de Sta. Isabel- I find this unforgettable because  it contains a moving monument dedicated to the civilians victims of the last war.

Plaza de Sto. Tomas , the replica of the founder of the University of  Sto.Thomas (the oldest university in the country)- archbishop Miguel de Benavides can be found standing here.

Plaza de Roma is located in front of  Manila Cathedral where the statue of King Carlos IV of Spain is proudly standing.

Ruins

13049_1204792635592_1101925012_30722209_1201673_n
Anduana building (19) –  We passed by this beautiful old colonial ruins en route to Fort Santiago.  A once impressive government building which was damaged by an earthquake, with the outside walls left standing to date.

Ayuntamiento is another colonial building ruined by the earthquakes, it was the Seat of City Council of Manila.

San Ignacio church ruins photo
San Ignacio Church nothing  much remains of this old church except for some few statues of the Jesuits who built it in 1889.

Buildings

Palacio del Gobernador a striking edifice that was reconstructed sometime in 1976 to house government offices.  As the name suggests, it used to be the  residence of the Governor- General of the Philippines during the Spanish colonial rule and was also heavily destroyed by an earthquake.

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Plaza San Luis Complex another striking old colonial building  which serves as a commercial and cultural complex composed of replica houses of  Philippine- Hispanic architecture. It houses Casa Manila museum.  One of my favorite parts of Intramuros reminiscent of  Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Museums

Casa Manila photo

Casa  Manila  is an opulent museum built by the controversial Imelda Marcos and located inside the Plaza Luis Complex.  It’s a  replica of a Spanish colonial house that gives tourists a glimpse of the posh lifestyle of the ruling class during the Spanish colonial period.

San Agustin Museum is adjacent to the San Agustin church and gives visitors a glimpse of the luxuries of old Manila.

inside Rizal's Shrine

Rizal Shrine is a building inside For Santiago that  contains the life and works of  Jose Rizal (the Philippines National hero), most notable pieces are the original copy of  ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’  (My Last Farewell) and the first draft of his novel ‘Noli Me Tangere’ (Touch Me Not).

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Bahay Tsinoy is a museum dedicated to the roles played by the Filipino-Chinese (Chinoys or Tsinoys) in the growth of  Manila.

Bagumbayan Light and Sound Museum I didn’t enter here but it is a major tourist attraction being the first of its kind in Asia. For a mere Php 100 entrance fee, it journeys visitors through Philippine history under Spanish rule.

Churches 

San Agustin Church – the oldest church in the Philippines and the only building  left intact after the fall of Intramus was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.  This old Spanish church inside Intramuros has magnificent ornate interiors, and well-known for its vaulted ceiling with intricate designs.

Manila Cathedral photo
Manila Cathedral – this ancient church with a Neo-Romanesque façade  is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.  It was a Sunday then, a mass is going on so I wasn’t able to take a photo of its  magnificent interiors.

the octagon house

I don’t know if this still exists today but  Wow Philippines is one part of  Intramuros that I enjoyed the most which houses cultural displays,  different types of  Philippine houses and proudly Philippine made products especially those coming from Mindanao.

I ended up having to pay the pedicab driver and his wife (the wife came during the Fort Santiago trip to bring luch to his husband) Php 500 for my  pedicab tour.  I know I would’ve had saved a little if I had just hopped on and off a pedicab, but I guess given my situation that time – my injured foot, it was a better option.  Besides, it’s not everyday that I  meet a pedicab driver, let the man earn more than he normally does.

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Intramuros is just one of  the many places Manila has to offer.   During my  Sabah travel, I was delighted to encounter tourists who have gone ( or will be going to Manila), because  it’s not all the time I meet  foreigners who wanted to visit Manila.  Except  maybe for the 2 young European teenage girls I’ve met in Cameron Highlands who wanted to go to Manila because their dad said Manila is the best city for cheap shopping but all of them had bad experiences  and impressions of  the Philippines’  infamous capital city.  “Manila is a hole, skip it, head to Boracay or Cebu-Bohol”, they all said.  No, they’re not even blaming traffic nor pollution because they’ve kind of encountered that in every SE Asian countries but  pickpockets and thieves.  They either lost their cellphones, iPod or laptop to thieves while in Manila.  While I cannot defend Manila’s crimes, I can guarantee you that it  can happen everywhere.

I guess to truly experience Manila’s nostalgic charm, or  savor  it’s mouth-watering food and indulge on its cheap shopping, one needs to sacrifice a little –  throw out your fears and inhibitions out of  your  luggage  and walk into her bosom but don’t forget to bring an ounce of extra care and tons of common sense!  Manila is Manila, love it or hate it, this city maybe dangerous but it is a  beautiful temptress.   Besides, isn’t  the most challenging trip oftentimes turns out to be the most memorable?  To discover Manila, you have to see its beauty in all it’s imperfection.  Oh please, impeccable is boring!

Intramuros photo

Author’s Note:  Since the pedicab tour rate is per hour. (Php 150 on the 1st hour, and Php100 per hour there after) , it  is advisable to start it after Fort Santiago where you may have to spend a little more time.  There are many pedicabs waiting outside anyway who can take you to your next destination.  But for photographers, walking tour is still the best option.  Kalesa tours is also a great way to explore the city but  be ready to shell out extra bucks.

Should you decide to do the walking tour by yourself, do drop by at the Intramuros Visitors Center which hands out maps and information about Intramuros they are located inside Fort Santiago  at 5F, Palacio del Gobernador, General Luna cor. Andres Soriano, Intramuros.

phone #:+632-5272961 (Intramuros Visitors Centre)

operation hours : 8am-5pm

Recommended Walking Tour of  Intramuros:  www.oldmanilawalks.com by Ivan Man Dy.

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me & my injured foot! lol

blogcarnival*This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival  entitled “Manila in Focus” hosted by my bro Angel Juarez of  Lakwatsero

 

 

 

 

 

24264_351910964162_336201504162_3580676_6142279_nAbout the Blogger : Gael Hilotin is a travel blogger and freelance travel writer who has been to all 81 provinces in the Philippines. Her work has appeared in local and international publications. She was a solid contributor of Yahoo Southeast Asia News (Travel) from 2011-2015. And was the winner of the travel writing contest at the Blogfest Asia 2012 held in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. For advertisements, sponsorship and partnerships, you may reach her at gaelhilotinblog (at) gmail (dot) com. ***********************************************************

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31 Responses

  1. dong ho says:

    sobrang sipag at parang naikot mo talaga skami sa post na to sa loob ng intramuros. kakatuwa naman at nakakuha ka ng P150 na tour at may succeeding rate pa. sanay na sanay na.

  2. AJ says:

    A pedicab tour? Now that’s a first! :) Maabilidad talaga mga Pinoy, hehe.

  3. Photo Cache says:

    ang ganda naman talaga jan. gusto ko ring balikan yan.

  4. Gael, this is def 1 of my fav blogs in the carnival. Ganda! I love how you composed your blog, how you took those photographs, and how you rounded up the place in a pedicab!

  5. Tripper10 says:

    Wow, parang nakapunta nako sa intramuros nito… :)
    Salamat Ms.Gael..:)

  6. Ed says:

    where there’s a will, there’s a way. litaw na litaw talaga ang emo sa pics gael. hehe. Sometimes we wonder if we have to pay for things like these because we think it’s too expensive. Pero ang maganda nyan is we think of ways that we are able to get more than we bargained for. In this case, nasulit yung pagtotour mo sa pedicab cause you were able to write this beautiful post! 😀

  7. although i live in manila hindi ko pa nalilibot yang intramuros. napakaloser ko. hahaha. will definitely try doing a walking tour one of this days.

    btw, about dun sa watermarks try kitang gawan this week. wag mo na kong bayaran tutal idol naman kita.. hahaha.. ^_^

  8. ano palang fave color mo? para yun ang medyo gagamitin kong font para sa watermark.

    • wow! serious?? gagawan mu ko? woi, thank you. hihi I guess white is ok for the main txt and kung my design man green or blue. super thanks! excited na ako. hehe how much pala? baka d ko kaya rate mu ha..hihi

  9. Nathalie says:

    Thanks for sharing Gael, will definitely consider this tour when in Manila.. :)

  10. chyng says:

    intramuros is home. yan ang bahay ko for 5 years while studying. parang UP ikot mo =)

  11. Capturing pictures depends on how creatively you positioned your camera. Nice photos ga-el. I am also busy with my work and havnt visited your blogs guys. I miss reading your blogs too. :-).

  12. Isn’t the old Manila Walk by Carlos Celdran? =)

  13. Nelieta says:

    This is a wonderful post Gael! I would love to see Manila. Your photos are great!!!

  14. Michelle says:

    Galing din ako jan with my friends just last week..photoshoot lang kuno. Full of historical memories ang Manila until now :)

  15. kura says:

    Pedicab? definitely not a bad idea. Mas mahal kasi ang kalesa e. (at medyo hindi ko gusto ang amoy ni Petra) I never knew they’re offering papadyak. hihihi! Thanks for this.

    Lucky me never akong naholdap or nadukutan sa Manila kahit I studied there for 4 years. Takot ata sakin. hahaha!

  16. May pedicab tour pala sa Intramuros?!
    (Actually, di ko alam na may tour pala tlaga sa loob ng Intramuros) =P

  17. Karl says:

    charming tour. P500 for the (probably frowned upon by the kalesa assoc) pedicab tour? it’s such surprises that make the sneaking fun, right?

  18. When I visited Warsaw’s Old Town and saw how they reconstructed exactly what they lost during WWII, I was aching for the same thing in Manila’s Intramuros. But at least, I can see there’s renewed interest in this old part of Manila again. I’d like to do that tour next time I’m in Manila.

  19. Wow, this post’s peppered with so many sights. I haven’t been to a handful of them. A pedicab tour is so Manilenyo/a, so Pinoy :)

  20. Karla says:

    Pwede pala ang pedicab tour sa Intramuros. :) Parang gusto kong ma-try. Nice pictures! There are so much to see in Intramuros.

  21. LINA C. ABOGADIE says:

    Great pics Gael, thanks for sharing. Every Sunday ako dumadaan near the Intramuros area but I’m just taking for granted those nice sceneries. I should document those soon. All the best in your future travels.

  22. yumi says:

    Thanks for this wonderful blog.Were planning to have a half day trip there soon.

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