I have always wanted to visit Intramuros. I have this romantic idea of walking along its streets with old buildings surrounding me. I pictured it would feel like I was in Europe or something.
A year ago, I planned to do just that. I studied the map, printed it and planned my walk using my map. I was with relatives and they wanted to go to the mall. One thing led to another. My Intramuros dream shelved. I got another opportunity on a National holiday this year. Aunt chickened out. Intramuros shelved. I vowed to go there alone next time. I had the opportunity last September but I prioritized visiting someone who just got out of the hospital.
When our October trip came, I demanded that we allot Intramuros time. My cousin wanted to go to Quiapo. My aunt wanted to go to 168 mall. I figured these destinations are all in Manila so we could visit them in one day. Challenge accepted.
It was a challenge. We were staying at my cousin’s house in Fairview. I know how to get to Intramuros using the MRT-LRT and on foot through Luneta. However, there was a Quiapo bus from Fairview so the plan was changed to Quiapo-Intramuros-168 mall. I have no idea how to get there from Quiapo. Taxi would be my best bet.
It was a long bus ride. No thanks to traffic. No thanks to the bus conductor; we missed our stop at Quiapo. The next stop was near the Philippine Postal Corporation building. We might as well go to Intramuros first. Since we had no idea how to get there, we had to ask for directions. All I know was that we were near the area. The old buildings were clues that we were somewhere near. We asked the guard inside the building and we were told to ride the Pier jeepney.
Once inside the jeepney, I was on alert-mode. We shouldn’t miss the stop again or we would end up in the pier. Although we already told the driver to tell us if we were already in Intramuros, I could not just rely on his memory. I didn’t want to annoy him by asking “Are we there yet?” every chance I get. I just asked him to stop once I saw old buildings with ‘Ayuntamiento’ written on it. I dug into my grade school history tucked in the recesses of my brain. Ayuntamiento means town in Spanish.
As I look at the map now, this is where we stopped.
Remember I was with two people who had different agenda for the day. They both asked me where Intramuros was once we alighted from the jeepney. This is Intramuros! HAHA! Remember that it is a walled city. Intramuros is a vast area with all the buildings. I knew what they meant. They meant Fort Santiago. I had no idea. I know it is near the bay because it is called a Fort! I thought I could just roam around and just discover the sites as I walked along. I did not prepare for these two variables: my aunt and cousin. So I made a decision to just visit the two churches: The Manila Cathedral and San Agustin church. It was almost lunch time and the two hungry tourists dagger looks could kill me. HA!
Here are my Intramuros photos:
San Agustin Church is a UN World Heritage Site.
The taxi driver dropped us at an area across the church. We had to use the walkway under the heat of the sun and grumbling stomachs. We had lunch at Chowking which was a welcome treat since Chowking has closed down in my city. My cousin and aunt were already seated while I took a bathroom break. When I went back to our table, another person was eating beside them. Across him was a pleasant-looking man in decent clothes. I thought he was his companion. As soon as the man handed some change and my cousin did the same, he hopped to another table. He was discrete and he looked decent so anyone can be caught unaware of his modus operandi. I do not know if Chowking is aware of this scam. The man was just begging for money but it felt like being held up because he would not leave your table until you gave him money. I think my cousin gave him ten pesos. If I were in my city, I would have reported him to the police. I was in the city of Manila and in Quiapo. I just wanted to live. I just pressed my ignore button. I will fight this battle some other time.
Because of that experience, I did not take photos of the Quiapo church nor its busy side streets. It would have been a nice photo opportunity to display some unique elements in Philippine culture.
My cousin went to Quiapo for this:
The next stop is 168 mall. We rode a Divisoria jeep from Quiapo and after some walking, we finally arrived at 168 mall. My aunt just wanted to see what the fuss about this mall. It is supposed to sell cheap items which otherwise cost a lot more in the mall. She ended up buying only an umbrella. It was kind of confusing for her. They sell so many things that a buyer who is not firm in decision-making, like my aunt, ends up with nothing. HA!
Good thing my cousin bought us ice cream. All izzz well.
The last challenge for us was how to get home. Home was Fairview. As long as I can get into an LRT or MRT, I know my way. Luck was on our side. No matter how confusing 168 mall was and how big Metro Manila was, we met someone from Butuan! My Tita knew her. The lady was buying stuff from 168 mall and she was sitting in the steps outside the mall. With her was her nephew/ tour guide. We asked how we can reach the nearest LRT/MRT station. He pointed us where we can ride the jeep. He told us to ride any jeep that goes to Morayta.
We found a Morayta jeep with LRT-MRT on its windshield. We asked the driver to confirm. While we were inside the jeep, my cousin took notice of the woman beside me. When she paid for her fare, she told the driver, “MRT”. We were cruising along a long stretch of highway when I spotted large pillars I thought to be an LRT track. I know LRT is old so I was confused because it looked new. MRT plies along EDSA. We were nowhere near EDSA. Suddenly, the woman beside me alighted the jeepney. Instinctively, my cousin followed suit. Once we were in the sidewalk, I took a good look at the area. We are indeed in a train station! We were in the Recto station of the LRT Purple Line! This was my first time to ride this train so I am not familiar with the routes. Good thing that there is a Araneta/Cubao stop. From Cubao we can ride the MRT to Trinoma. We took a taxi to Fairview.
My soundtrack for the day while on the road was this:
Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness. ~Ray Bradbury