Viva Manila Walking Tour


Last July 7, I had the luck to enlist in one of Carlos Celdran's barter tour in Manila.

If you have no idea who he is,  Carlos is a well-known Filipino tour guide, activist and social media personality. His company Walk This Way offers walking tours round the streets and landmarks in Manila in the hope of educating people about the city's rich history. His tours are unlike ordinary ones because they are usually fueled with high energy and entertaining performances, making it easier for you to understand the significance of a certain place. (Find him on Twitter and Facebook).

Here's a photo of me and Carlos

Occasionally, Carlos posts on his Facebook page schedules of barter tours in Intramuros. The participants need only to pay the basic calesa and entrance fees (approx. PhP 400) in exchange of an afternoon filled with cultural enlightenment.

Recently he  was appointed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada as a tourism consultant for the city. As part of this, Carlos created a new tour called Viva Manila which aims to revive the city's tourist belt. 

I was fortunate enough to join one of them and man was it a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Below are the pictures I took during the walking tour. 

The tour started in Manila Zoo and then continued to the MMDA Park beside it. There were mini-versions of infrastructures you see around EDSA and equipments used by MMDA during emergency situations. 

We rode a jeep to Padre Faura cor. Mabini Street  and visited Casa Tesoro, an art gallery hidden at the heart of Malate which showcases relics that are distinctly Asian as well as paintings from amateur and professional artists alike.

We also visited the Lotus Garden Hotel, a semi art-deco hotel in Malate. They were gracious enough to show us some of their rooms and decorations. 

Next stop was the Ermita Church (Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia Parish), one of the oldest churches in the country.

We walked to the Phil-Am Building which is now being threatened by demolition. This building designed by Carlos Arguelles used to be the headquarter of the Philippine American Life and General Insurance Company, the country's largest insurance company. Part of the building is the Phil-Am Theater, where most cultural performances have been held in the 60's and 70's. Since its sale to SM Development Corporation, there has been a clamor in the social media community for the theater to be spared from demolition. (Read more about it here.)

   While walking I saw this dilapidated building which still has the vestiges of it's former beauty. It now houses a number of urban families and has trees growing on it's roof.     

Our second to the last stop was Rizal Park and the Art Gallery inside the Botanical Garden.  I didn't even know there was such. There were outdoor and indoor artworks that you can find. There is also a space available for public performances...

We took a picture of the entire group in front of Rizal's Monument and as you can see, there were more than a hundred people in the tour.  (The picture is not mine; I got it from Carlos' facebook page).
Photo Courtesy of Sidney Snoeck 

Our last stop was the Miramar Hotel along Roxas Boulevard, the only art-deco hotel in the city. The owners preserved the old decorations of the building. It was like a wormhole that will export you back to the 20's. Photos of flapper girls are hung in the landings of each floor, the wall fixtures reminded me of old black-and-white movies... it was beautiful. 

They offered refreshments for us thirsty participants and they were delish! 

 It was truly a wonderful experience and I strongly advise you to join if you ever have an opportunity to do so. Carlos is an amazing tour guide and there's a lot to learn about Manila.

 I am looking forward to the next one. :)

 Below are the other shots I took during the tour. 

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