Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Manila: More travel notes from Manila

Today, I was at Intramuros again. I had invited my brod Bikoy Villanueva to join me and my tokayo, Ivan ManDy around Manila. We met up at the Bahay Tsinoy Museum where we got a lecture on Tsinoy History 101. From there, we walked towards the San Agustin Church since I was going to meet with Fr. Pedro Galende, director of the San Agustin Museum, regarding the plans to reconstruct the Second Monastery. It turns out, the San Agustin issue was a false alarm. The photos which circulated among cultural workers on the net are from an old design idea that never became a plan.

I mentioned to Fr. Galende that they should not have displayed those design ideas on the second floor of the museum. Anyway, the blue prints of the current plans are now on display on the first floor, an exterior reconstruction that was approved by UNESCO itself. The current design came about from several technical working group meetings with representatives from the National Museum, NHI, NCCA and IA and HCS members.

Fr. Galende was very receptive. He in fact wants feedback on the current design if there are any and requested me to relay the same to him. I posted the current plans above (there are several panels in San Agustin) for everyone's information.

From San Agustin, we decided to walk towards the Binondo area. While we were on the Jones Bridge, we saw the Pasig River Ferry docked in the Escolta Station and rushed to check it out. The next station, Sta. Ana, was just 30 minutes away so we decided to hop on board. We spent PHP25 each one-way.

There are several proposed stations along the Pasig River from Del Pan Bridge close to the mouth of the river up to Sta. Elena in Marikina. At the moment, four are already operational namely Escolta, Sta. Ana, Hulo and Guadalupe.

We weren't able to take photos during the more scenic part of the ferry ride because of security concerns. I wonder what the paranoia is all about, all these restrictions on taking photos of Malacanang. During my ferry rides in Bangkok and Singapore, I was able to take photos of the Grand Palace and Parliament House respectively. That's why I found this restriction especially absurd since after Malacanang, the river becomes black, the stench of the water becomes unbearable, and from old colonial buildings, you see the Pandacan Oil Depot, warehouses, factories, squatters and garbage among others!

From the Sta. Ana Station, we walked a few meters to the Sta. Ana Church, a national cultural treasure. The retablo is among the best in Metro Manila. In fact, I believe it's the most intact church complex in Manila with its convento and all.

After that brief tour of the church, we rushed back to the station to catch the ferry back to Escolta only to wait for thirty more minutes since the ferry was late. I hope they are able to perfect the arrival and departure times especially when more stations open. We went to the nearest Chinese restaurant along Escolta for dinner. I was craving for hot and sour soup so we ordered a bowl. We also had some siomai, beef spareribs and fried rice.

After dinner, since I was craving for dumplings, we went to Dong Bei to munch on their popular dumplings, pancakes and noodles. While we were eating, we found out our vehicles were locked inside the Bahay Tsinoy. And since they had an alarm system, we couldn't get them until the next day! So all of us had to commute home. Oh well!

Thanks to Bikoy for our photos in San Agustin and the Pasig River Ferry. Check out for his account of our trip.

Heritage candidate
Val Sandiego, head of the Carcar Heritage Conservation Society, is probably the first candidate ever in the Philippines to run on a heritage-based platform. Sandiego is a candidate for Mayor in Carcar, the most important heritage town in Cebu province. More details here.
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