Manila's Walled City is a must-see destination for both local and foreign tourists. It exudes old world charm and gives one an insight into how its residents lived during the Spanish colonial period. Much of the old city was destroyed during World War II but the restored structures have been rebuilt to as close as the originals were.
A visit to Intramuros will not be complete without making stops at the following historical sites:
The 16th century fort was built to repel Chinese pirates and other invaders in the 16th century. The fort begins at the mouth of the Pasig River which faces Manila Bay.
Inside the compound amidst the barracks and dungeons can be found the Rizal Shrine where national hero Jose Rizal was detained prior to his execution at Bagumbayan Field. The shrine showcases Rizal's memorabilia including clothes, pictures and letters.
The San Agustin Church was the only structure left standing after World War II inside the walled city. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest stone church in the country. The San Agustin Museum is right next door and is a repository of religious relics and artifacts from all over the country. The Church is known for its detailed 3D style painted ceiling and is the best representation of Baroque church architecture in the country during the period.
Casa Manila is a turn of the century house complete with furniture and fixtures to match. Its interiors details how a typical family lived in Intramuros at its peak. Plaza San Luis is a five house cluster which showcases recreated houses in the provinces that gives one an idea of domestic life in the countryside during the Spanish colonial period where the town's activities centered on the local parish and the town plaza. There are also arts and crafts shops within the complex and a restaurant, Barbara's, which evokes nostalgic memories of the genteel lifestyle during the period.
This museum is a recent addition to the attractions of Intramuros and features how the Chinese or the Parian, as the Spaniards referred to them, lived during the period. The Chinese-Filipinos were relegated to their settlement called Binondo across the Pasig River. They were only allowed into the Walled City during business hours and had to leave at the end of the day. Binondo is the world's oldest Chinatown.
The city's premier cathedral is now on its eigth iteration having been destroyed in several earthquakes since its construction in 1581 and World War II when it was again destroyed by bombing and artillery fire.
Here's an extra tip: Performance artist Carlos Celdran's walking tour of Intramuros has become both famous and notorious given Celdran's run-ins with the Philippine Catholic Church. This is the ultimate walking tour because it's not only laden with facts about the stops it covers but trivia and insights about Philippine society during the period as well.
So, which places in Intramuros will you visit first during National Heroes Day?
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Among the Indonesian Christian community, Sidney and Etha Mohede are extremely popular. Sidney is best known as an award-winning gospel singer-songwriter and one of the pastors of a Jakarta-based megachurch, while Etha is a social media influencer. This Christmas season, we had the opportunity to talk with The Mohedes about their Christmas tradition, how they're going to spend this year's Christmas, and the importance of photography for their family.
We think our family's Christmas is just like any other family's. When we're in Jakarta, on Christmas morning we'd wake up and open our Christmas presents. But, since these couple of years we spent our Christmases traveling overseas, we'd open the presents before we fly off.
Also, we like to think that the trip itself is the present for the entire family, and we are happy to enjoy the trip together, just us and our three children.
Our family's Christmas dinner usually happens on the Christmas Eve, with simple dishes and no special table decorations. We always like to finish up all the hassle before Christmas Day itself. On Christmas Day we'd usually just eat simple take outs and just enjoy our time together.
However, we think that our family's dinners–be it Christmas or not–is a tradition in itself. We want to make sure that every family member sit around the table at dinner time. We see nowadays in modern families, at dinner time everybody's still busy with their own things; the kids watching videos on their tables, the parents still busy with their gadgets... We don't want that in our family. We make sure that everyone sits around the table and really enjoy our time together, including on Christmas dinners.
This year we'll be going to Europe, namely Italy and the Netherlands. This would be our first time in Italy, and it's a 3-families trip. We're flying off to Dusseldorf, then we'll travel to Milan and meet the other 2 families there. Then we'd spend 7 days in Italy and 7 days in Netherlands, so in total it would be a 14 days trip.
As for the detailed itinerary, we honestly have no clue, but we've already booked a car to drive around. We want to try a road trip-style holiday this time around, and we think it would be fun! It's going to be an adventure!
Of course! For me (Sidney) personally, I love photography because it is a way I can express my passion easily. I was an art major in university, and my first passion was drawing and painting. But drawing something takes a lot of time. With a camera, I can capture the beauty of what I was seeing wherever I go with a single snap. I can still use my brain and eye for the compositions and colours, and I can express my visual arts passion in an easy way, without having to spend more than 30 minutes to draw one picture.
Which is why, we also love SweetEscape very much, because the idea of not being the one who takes the photographs and actually being photographed once in a while is really fun! Honestly, I'm (Sidney) not a big fan of being photographed, like most guys, I believe. But for a family photo, it's always nice to have, since most of the times we'd have to take turns taking pictures with the kids, or resort to selfies. With SweetEscape, we don't have to worry about this, and all five of us can be in the picture together!
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