Philippines · Photography · Town Trip

In the heart of the city is a history


I recently found out that there’s a mobile version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and since I downloaded it, I couldn’t stop experimenting on photo editing. I’m no pro because I’m the kind of person who just takes photos of things I find pretty. Most of the time, my phone will be filled of photos of the sky. Sometimes, I get lucky. And since I have a bunch of photos on my phone that I have not had a chance to share here, I thought that it’s nice to post some. They were photos taken from way back last year when I got the chance to go around Manila for this project in a subject, as well as a random trip to the National Museum with my brother.

The above photo was a shot of the monument of the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. It is an awkward place since it should have been in the middle but I was trying to conceal that rising building from behind ruining the aesthetic view. Once a clear background, the much-debated rise of the tower has been a large talk-of-the-town since it is a battle between preserving a national heritage and also dealing with alleviating unemployment by job opportunities that the rise of the tower will bring. What’s your stand?


Taken by my brother, Daniel. We this isolated part of the National Museum with a really pretty stained glass window. He is not as good yet at taking photos so I am trying to at least teach him with what little knowledge I know. This one would have been a nice shot, I think, if the above portion of the window was not cut out of the frame.


There are a lot of very brilliant paintings in the National Museum. In fact, it will probably take more than a day to be able to contemplate them all. Aside from the ones inside specialized rooms, there are also a lot of paintings hanging in the hallways, complete with labels containing the title of the work, the artist, and the type of media used. I especially like the propaganda ones. I find them to be very provocative and bold.


I am not sure if the National Museum still has this beautiful collection by Chiolo Laurel. As I remember, he has 4-6 works on display; all of them are monochromatic. I find them very captivating, and at the same time intriguing because they depict such lively scenery and moments, and yet they are not drawn in color. For instance, The Piper (as a title) would sound like a really happy title when you hear it, and yet, after you see the work, it kind of give you an impression that someone who gives out a lively tune to this world would be in the midst of such large and lonely place.


The National Museum also has a room filled with some information about rice and plant growing. They have details about its history in the country, down to the different variety of rice for each region, as well as samples of palay and variants of rice. I am weird in that I especially liked the display of rice pests (well, except for the worms–ew). I did not know that snails are deterrent to rice crops because I grew up only seeing them crawling up the side walls of this wooden panel of my grandma’s old house. Touring really educate people.


Around April or May of last year, I had to do a tour of the historical places on my own because I could not join the Vigan trip for my history class. It was my first time visiting Intramuros, and I liked it there. I thought that if the country can can the residents there to transfer on a better village or location and then renovate the entire walled city so that its old beauty may be maintained, then we can capitalize better on our tourism. Intramuros really holds a rich history through the buildings and the structures within it. The photo above is a shot of the San Agustin Church found just a few streets away from the main gate. This church has been standing for about 500 years in the Philippines and has survived calamities. San Agustin Church is also famous for weddings, and some even say that couples who get married here never separate.


In the center of Intramuros, the Manila Cathedral stands proudly, and has also been there for about 500 years. The Cathedral is built as a dedication to Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion. Around the cathedral is the then offices of the Spanish government, such as the office of the governor-general, the bureau of treasury and a lot more.


At the far end of Intramuros is our last stop, Fort Santiago. It is known to be the defense fortress of the city during the time of the war. In here as well is where Jose Rizal was imprisoned before he got sentenced to death and shot in Luneta. Within Fort Santiago, you can find a lot of battle artillery, canons, and chains.

Behind the canon is a common site around this area. They are horse carriage offering rides to go around the place. If you’re not used to just walking around and not minding the heat, then you can rent and negotiate with them so they can tour you around. Personally, I am the kind of person who likes to walk around despite the heat so I never once considered taking a carriage the entire trip. Maybe I’ll try next time just for experience. But, trust me, walking around lets you see a lot of good stuff around.


This one is an entrance to an underground passageway. I am guessing this is where the soldiers and civilians hide every time the city is under attack. My other guess is that this is where they imprison the other revolutionist. The stones are fascinating to look at. It was actually magnificent standing underneath it, but it does give you a kind of chill on the nape of your neck despite the heat of the day. (Lol).


In the end part of Fort Santiago is a museum dedicated to Rizal. You can also visit the house in which he stayed during his last days. These museums contain his properties and possessions as well as old copies of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The museums also have some of this paintings. There are corners as well that hold a particular depiction of some significant moments in Rizal’s life: for one, his last confession with a priest before his death day.


If you are into Philippine history, old architecture, and a sudden thirst for historical knowledge, I suggest that you start exploring Manila instead of confining yourself within textbooks and the Internet. There are really a lot of things that you can get just by walking around. I am pretty sure that, like me, you also have one of those wanderlust days and that’s a good motivation to start this kind of trip.

Despite the fact that I did not like that subject before, one thing that I got out of it is this sense of wonder for the country. I’m not really a history geek, and my knowledge about certain things are very limited, but I consider myself an enthusiast for historical things. It’s a nice thing to discover some of the things you thought you knew but actually didn’t. I think also that one way to appreciate culture, when all else fails, is through art. Art is preserved and survives generations, and it is through it that you follow the change in societal perspective and some of the things that people once fought for.



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