Many tourist guides hawk at wanderers to earn a peso or two. The usual rate is P250 for an hour's walk. A 30 minute Calesa ride is charged at the same rate. A bald middle aged man with saggy eyes approached me asking if I wanted to be shown around. I sadly pretended not to understand him because I wanted to be left alone
. Im cluey enough to do my own independent tour without having to shell out some dosh. So, I pretended not to understand Tagalog nor English and responded to him in French. This man was persistent. He stuck on me like a periwinkle on a boat. He tried every strategy he could think of so that I could agree to the tour. I held firm. Finally, he gave up on the idea and asked if he could walk me to Fort Santiago from Manila Cathedral. I could see his thirst so I bought him a P10 bottle of coke from a nearby sari-sari store. He continued to walk me to the entrance of Fort Santiago and from there we bade farewell.
I enetered Fort Santiago and was take aback by the entire place. The place is preserved carefully and the Jose Rizal Museum is neat and very respectable. A copper tableau of Jose Rizal's 'Noli me tangere' is glued outside the museum. I just had to take a photo of it because I was captivated by its organic beauty.
The Old Manila is intense. Anyone fond of history and arhitecture, food and culture must visit the Fort Santiago and Intramuros Districts. The drama is in the strong presence these places hold and how important, culturally these places are to the Filipinos. The old churches and ornately decorated buildings are what ties the Filipinos to its strong Spanish heritage. In many ways, the Spanish customaries are still alive in the lives of Filipinos. Things such as, being fashinably late (known as Filipino Time), Siestas, Christmas rituals such as Noche Buena and Misa de Gallo are very much celebrated up until now.