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Immersing Yourself in Philippine Culture

Titilaok Dec 30,2012 0 Comments

Words by: Teresa Cinco

Coming home for a vacation in the Philippines? Beaches would be the first thing in your mind when you think of a place you’d want to visit in Manila, right? But if you look around, there are more than just beaches to this country. As they say, you really don’t know a country if you haven’t seen and felt its culture. So why not take the cultural and historical route for your vacation? There is no better time to see and revisit the cultural and historical places of the Philippines! A lot of these places are scenic and are very lovely for picture taking. It will be a great experience to immerse yourself in the culture of the Philippines.

There are countless places to choose from around the country. If you are limited to going around in Manila, you can choose from these places that are all in Manila area:

Luneta Park
This park is where you can find the Rizal monument. It was formerly known as Bagumbayan Field. It was exactly where Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines who was executed by the Spanish military for his contribution to the revolution against the Spanish rule. It is a lovely park to hold picnics and just relax and play games in the grass.

Luneta Park

Intramuros
This is called the Walled City, the oldest city of Manila. You can opt for a guided tour – a choice of a jeepney tour, kalesa tour or a walking tour to see the old stunning structures. The remnants of the city will provide you with the feel of the old. Take in the knowledge shared by the tour guide who will describe the places and structures relevant to Philippine History. You may also enjoy lunch/dinner around the area. You will find restaurants in old structures, to maintain the nostalgic feel of the place.

Intramuros

Corregidor
A fortress in the time of Japanese regime. The last fortress to surrender to the Japanese was also called ‘the rock’. Although this is not in Manila, the ferry that will take you to Bataan where Corregidor is located, docks at Manila Bay. A trip to Corregidor will show you beautiful ruins left from the period of war. The day tour trip includes the ferry transfers (from and to Manila Harbour), a buffet lunch and it includes a guided tour around the island. Aside from the Corregidor trip, you may also opt to include a Manila Cruise dinner to enjoy the sunset on your way back to Manila. Or if you don’t want to leave the island just yet, you can opt to stay at the Corregidor Inn to enjoy the island the whole night.

Ayala Museum
Right in the heart of Makati Central Business District, this museum offers a wide array of art from antiques, handcrafted dioramas that tells of the history of the country, and boasts of its boat gallery depicting the development of Philippine maritime trade and colonial economy, to other forms of modern art. This museum boasts of paintings from different national artists, like Juan Luna, Fernando Zobel, and Fernando Amorsolo, to name a few. Aside from the museum itself, the place has shops which sells interesting stuff that can be very good pasalubongs. To cap off a tour, you can enjoy lunch or dinner at the M cafe, a restaurant that serves delicious Filipino food.

Now, if you have luxury of time and can afford to go outside of Metro Manila, these places may offer you the culture and the nostalgia that history brings.

Vigan, Ilocos.
A historic town in Ilocos Sur has remained intact of its old structures. This town was a trading center back in the time of Spanish colonial period. It’s quite an experience to walk on cobblestone streets and see large colonial houses. The feel of the ‘old’ was maintained, and one can’t help but feel nostalgic when in this town.

Historic Vigan

Lapu Lapu Shrine.
A bronze statue of Lapu-Lapu, the native chieftain of Mactan Island can be found in Mactan, Cebu. The shrine was built at the exact spot where the battle between Lapu-Lapu and the Spaniards took place.

Blood Compact Site
This site of the Blood Compact that transpired between Sikatuna, a native chieftain and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the Spanish explorer is located at Tagbilaran, Bohol. Tagbilaran, being the capital of Bohol. This site is part of a tour that is being offered when you visit Bohol. Aside from this site, you will be able to visit the Chocolate Hills (the hundreds of hills for which Bohol is famous for) and to see one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, the Baclayon Church. You will also be brought to a place to see tarsiers (one of the smallest primates in the world). And at the end of the tour you get to enjoy a scenic buffet lunch by Loboc river.

The Blood Compact Site at Tagbilaran, Bohol

Baroque Style Churches
In the Philippines, you will find four churches that were given the honor of being called a UNESCO World Heritage Center. These Churches are Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo; Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur; San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila; and Church of San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. This honor was given to these churches as they were beautifully made in such a way that it depicts the baroque style but was also built to suit the tropical weather of the Philippines. It is said that these churches were built with the influence of European but at the same time, it also has local influence when it comes to the materials used.

There is no better way to learn than learning while you’re traveling. It’s a lot easier to be educated when you’re entertained by the view and the beauty of a place rather than by just reading about it. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Philippines in this light?

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