Visiting Manila? Living in Manila? If you could really only take 1 tour, I would recommend catching Carlos Celdran’s Walk This Way tour of Intramuros.
Some background first: Carlos Celdran first pinged on my radar in 2010 during the famous (or infamous?) Damaso incident at the Manila Cathedral. This is how I learned that he was one of the biggest proponents for the Philippine Reproductive Health Bill (now a Law whut whut!) being passed and therefore a personal hero of mine. Long story short, Carlos told the Philippine Catholic church to stop getting involved in politics, religious feelings were hurt, and he was convicted and sentenced to jail for a while. You can look it up on the internet for more details. #ProRH
Before 2010, Carlos was already famous for his walking tours of Intramuros and for advocating the preservation of Manila’s long historical culture. Since I had a friend visiting (Hi Jess F!), I figured that I could bring her to the tour and learn something more for myself since I think what they teach in class can at times be limited. I’ve already ended up taking the tour twice this year (Hi Chloe C!) since I really enjoyed it. While the tour is mostly about the history of Intramuros, it’s also stewed in politics and how different spheres of influence played into shaping the Manila (and Metro Manila) we know today. It’s quite the tour and some people who aren’t even part of the tour try to sneak in and join. We even got a drone filming us one time. Creepy.
You will definitely need a sense of humor and an open mind for this tour and if you have a stick up your ass, don’t bother. Really, don’t. You should also probably get that checked out. Just sayin’.
Carlos starts off with a brief intro on Philippine history and culture and even gets us Filipinos to participate because even we need a refresher course sometimes. As the group goes around, we catch glimpses of the different eras of Manila, the rise and fall, and the constant and still present rebuilding of a city that was devastated by a war that wasn’t even ours to begin with. The tour ends with the lighthearted topic of what makes Manila and Filipinos unique and foreigners can have a better grasp of Filipino culture while locals can’t help but be proud. We ended near the souvenir store (of course) and I subsequently got myself a Damaso shirt and the English copies of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo :3
Walk This Way is not your average tour and Carlos Celdran is not your average tour guide. What better way to learn about Manila than from someone who truly lives and breathes it? No religious feelings were hurt in the making of this post (I hope).