By Jim Bendoy
Chalk Campus Correspondent
If you're looking for a dose of history and culture, there's no need to go farther than our very own Manila. With vibrant stories to tell from ages past, this city boasts of colonial architecture and whiffs of nostalgia. So if you want a walk through time, roaming around Manila can take you far enough. From the streets of Escolta to iconic spots such as Luneta and Binondo, here's a list of places you must tick off your bucket list before going anywhere else.
Before there was Bonificaio Global City in Taguig or the high streets of Ayala Avenue, there was Escolta–one of the first shopping and exchange centers in the entire Manila. Escolta or so as called Calle de la Escolta which is located in downtown Binondo has a lot of history to tell. The architectural excellence and one of a kind design of the buildings will leave you in awe as some of these were made during the colonial and post-colonial era. The buildings like El Hogar which was a wedding gift to a Spaniard couple, The Regina Building with an American-inspired architecture, The Capitol Theatre which was designed by National Artist Juan Nakpil, and the Calvo Building which hosted some of the biggest companies and law-firms in the late 1930s are parts of the history of Escolta.
The beauty and aesthetic design of Intramuros should not just be only within the walls. Once you take the passage inside Intramuros, the feeling of time traveling will instantly hit you. This secured location became the seat of the government of the Spaniards during their colonization. Inside is a community that still lives within the remains of the Spanish culture that influenced the fort drastically. There are kalesas or horse-drawn carts that will give you a tour through the bricks and barracks streets of the place. Churches, universities, and coffee shops will make your visit inside the walled area of Intramuros satisfying and historically pleasing.
3. Luneta Park
Located at Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, the Luneta Park has a collection of history that is just waiting to be unfolded. A lot of people know that this park holds the remains of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, but many did not know that there were executions of criminals and enemies of the Spanish government that happened in the place including Gomburza. Now, the park is considered to be one of the largest public parks in Asia. The next time you decide to take a stroll or have a picnic, try to remember the history that took place in this scenic spot.
4. San Agustin Church
The San Agustin Church was erected around the 1500’s and is considered the oldest stone church in the Philippines. It is also recognized by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as a World Heritage Site. San Agustin Church has seen it all as there were some accounts of hostage-takings involving priests held in captive by some Japanese soldiers. Another event that happened inside the church was when the Spaniards signed an agreement with the Americans as they turned over the Philippines to the U.S.
Ending your historic tour in Binondo is a must! Get to experience their authentic Chinese cuisine and explore the oldest Chinatown in the world. Binondo was founded in 1594 and became the seabed of trade and other commercial discussions with merchants. The ancient Chinese vibe is pretty evident in this city up until now. Plus, many people are choosing Binondo to reside in because of high-established corporations, institutions, and medical centers. If you happen to find yourself at the border of Binondo, don’t forget to enjoy and be part of the culture.
You don’t have to spend a great amount of money in order to visit a well-cultured country. You just need to explore your surroundings, get lost, and find bits of history in places you never thought of looking.
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