07 December 2011

If These Walls Could Talk: A Tour of Intramuros and a History Lesson, Carlos Celdran Style

I love history, especially the version not written in books. It makes for an oftentimes harsh and painful narrative, but I've always believed that knowledge of the past makes for better understanding of the present.

When I heard Carlos Celdran was having a barter tour of Intramuros, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Newly graduated MD = no more student discount, but no money either hahaha! I hopped on a bus to Manila armed with a box of my favorite buko pie (Lety's is the best!!!), comfortable shoes, a fully charged camera, clean ears and an open mind. ;)

Here are a few photos taken during the tour. I'm glad Scarlet (that's my camera if you should know, and yes she has a name) focuses very fast because most of these were taken while moving.

I'd like to go back to Intramuros, sit in one of those benches and read
a book while kalesas clip-clop by.

Hey it's a cannon. 

The Entrance to Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago: Destroyed in 1945 by our friends the Americans.

My favorite part of the Jose Rizal exhibit: The Triumph of Death over Science.
He has another sculpture "The Triumph of Science over Death," and it has a
huge replica in the UP College of Medicine. We called her Lady Med. :)

I was just really amused to see his old medical set. :D

Man ought to die for his duty and his convictions. I maintain all the
ideas I have expressed concerning the state and future of my
country and gladly I'll die for her, nay, to obtain justice and
tranquility for you.

Surprise. The Pasig river now. Scent-free and no longer an eyesore.

Walking in Rizal's footsteps.

This was one of our "classrooms" during the tour.

Before World War II, this was Ateneo de Manila University and
the St. Ignatius Cathedral.

It was night time when we got to San Agustin church.

Carlos Celdran was an amazing tour guide. He was a great performer: he sang, danced, spoke dramatically and even changed costumes (or accessories) for every segment of the tour. I felt like I was watching a zarzuela. But it was also evident that he knew his history by heart. More so, you know from the way he talks and how he looks when talking about Manila, that he truly loves this city. 

Carlos described his tour as a history class for people with a short attention span and that was a good thing because I have the attention span of a five year old! The tour lasted around three hours, but from start to finish, he had our full attention. Even passers-by and street children would stop to listen.

The free choc-nut, the kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) ride and the halo-halo at the end of the tour were delightful add-ons. And I loved how the kalesa drivers were like mini tour guides too, pointing out places along the way and giving us bits of trivia!

The tour was informative, peppered with stories complimented with visual aids. While it was entertaining, it was also very blunt and unapologetic, and it forced me to rethink the way I looked at a lot of things: the church, our heroes, our colonizers, and most importantly, us Filipinos and this place we call home. 

On his website, Carlos Celdran says he is "a man who is trying to change the way you look at Manila - one step at a time."  In my case, he was successful. I've always loved Manila, yes, but my appreciation for the city has always been because of its conveniences, and not because of its history. After taking the tour and seeing how beautiful Manila was at the height of its glory, I felt a little sad not to have been able to see that Manila. But I also felt a deep sense of pride for this city I called home for seven years, because against all the odds, Manila has survived. :)

Thank you for the wonderful tour Sir! :)

Information about Carlos Celdran's tours are available here. :)


  1. Anonymous11:35 PM

    Awesome, ako din nag-tour last year with Carlos and mygehd I love him! Inaabangan ko na mag-barter tour naman siya for his Imelda Tour so I can go again!

  2. His tours really are something, aren't they? :) Next project ko din yang Imelda Tour. Hehe.

  3. Super cool blog post! Hope you can visit my blog too. http://www.intramurosmanila.asia/ :)

  4. Naiinggit ako! Ang tagal ko nang gusto makapunta sa mga tour niya eh. Huhu.
    I love going to Fort Santiago.

  5. Thanks for dropping by Mark! :)

    Ela, you should go to one. It's awesomesauce. :)

  6. Hey! Were you the one who took our photo at the tour? If yes, then nice meeting you :) And thanks for taking a photo for us. If you ever have your internship/residency at PGH, will hope to see you there :)

  7. Hi Hana! Haha yes! And thanks for taking my picture too. :D

    Do you work in PGH? I had my clerkship/ internship there! Maybe I'll see you during residency. :P

  8. Cool! Now I wanna do this tour. I don't know a lot of Philippine history and this sounds like a fun way to go about learning :)

  9. You should go! :) The tour is even divided into segments: Spanish colonization period, American colonization period and post-colonization. It's really meant to teach history and not just point out the sights. :)


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