Sunday, September 03, 2006


It was another day of history lessons with the entire stretch of Escolta to Quiapo as classroom, and Carlos Celdran as teacher. I was accompanied by a fellow blogger, Vina (standing behind Carlos in picture above), and my Manila-born and raised nephew, Edick.

The historical aspect of this walking tour was from the period in which the Philippine archipelago began to experience economic, educational and cultural indoctrinations from its American colonizer during the turn of the 20th century. Escolta and the entire city of Manila seemed to have been the centerpiece of that grandiose renaissance buffet. Sadly, the tangible assets of those efforts were blown into smithereens during the one month Battle of Manila when the entire city was carpet bombed by the U.S. liberating forces.

And the period right after the war — traumatized by a civilian death toll that practically equaled that of Hiroshima — most members of Manila’s society and business elite began their exodus down south — towards Makati. Those whose hearts remained in Manila stayed behind to spearhead the monumental task of rebuilding a war-torn city.

Since about six years ago until now, Mayor Lito Atienza has been busily resuscitating Manila with his various revitalization and beautification projects. And the gentrified Escolta and Rizal Avenue were some of the areas that Carlos brought us to see and know some of their history.

Personally, the most exciting moment of this tour was when Carlos brought us to Plaza Miranda in front of Quiapo Church and told us everything we wanted to know about those local cures and amulets sold by the street vendors. I was always curious about them, but hesitant, or I should say, embarrassed to ask a vendor to explain to me what each item was for. Much to my delight, Carlos demystified it all for me!

Now I know which super strength love potion to get should a need arise in the future, or which amulet would be formidable enough to guard myself against evil intentions (I can now retire the evil eye keychain which a friend brought me from Turkey).

And finally, the highlight of this walking tour was when Carlos led us to the side of the church and then around to a doorway. Behind it is this flight of stairs that leads directly to a plexiglass window behind the church altar with an opening to slip one's hand and touch the foot of the Black Nazarene while asking for three wishes. That alone made my day, because no one else I know — local family and friends — knew about this. Now I have something new to tell them.

Incidentally, I happened to have spoken briefly with one of those in the tour with us yesterday, a gentleman about my age who either travels a lot, or works outside of his home country. He told me that whenever he goes back home to Holland for vacation, he signs up for at least one of their local guided tours — to water his roots, so to speak. I think Filipino expats ought to do the same thing.

This has been another walking tour guided by Carlos that was absolutely worth my time, effort, and money, for I came away richer with knowledge and pride for the city I was born and grew up in.

*Special thanks to Vina for a bagful of delicious Bacolod butterscotch and tart goodies!

posted by Señor Enrique at 8:20 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks like a very enjoyable afternoon. :-) The sight of the calesa brings back memories. I used to ride those contraptions when I was studying near the area. :-) Did you ride one yesterday?

September 03, 2006 9:42 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric so you already have a shot of the Post office. Nice architecture, right? Kaya lang likod lang iyon you should still see the front together with the fountain of liwasang Bonifacio plus, you ought to see it at night when all the lights are open! I still think it is spectacular! :-)

September 03, 2006 9:58 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Oh Eric, you went to one place I visit everytime I come back since I uprooted myself - Quiapo Church area. That's the coloured candles I've been talking about in my blog. Each colour is intended for certain petition. I forgot the meaning of each colour. I bet you know it by now.

Another is the local herbalist/faith healer, though not all of them are. Incidentally, though a skeptic, I believe in folk medicine.

Good capture of buildings there. Looks like a good tour.

September 03, 2006 10:08 AM  

Blogger Yanin's said...

Nice pictures! and your blog is very nice :)

September 03, 2006 10:28 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice pictures! And what a great afternoon.


Thanks for sharing out; at least now I know few extra things about Pinas. I do agree that we should follow one of the tour guides around in our own country to know the places and history better.

September 03, 2006 10:44 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It was a fun afternoon, Ladybug! I love calesas, too, and take pictures of them tirelessly :)

We didn't ride one yesterday, but today, Sunday, Carlos has a tour of Binondo in which a calesa ride is part of it. Had I no other appointments for today, I would have joined it.

The spot where I took that picture was where this particular walking tour started, Beth.

But I will wait til we do the evening walk when I take pictures of the front and Liwasang Bonifacio.

Give me the link of your candle burning entry, Ipanema so I can hook it up with this entry. Carlos did explain the colors, including how the human form candles are to be burned, but again, I was busy shooting pictures that I didn't pay a good enough attention.

It is truly amazing all those herbal cures, and from what I understand, you can even buy cannabis here. Not sure if true.

Thank you, Yanin!

You must join one of these tours, Kyels, when you come over. Let me know in advance; I might join you, ok?

BTW, my nephew was astounded to realize how much he didn't know about Filipino history, though he graduated from college.

Once I exhausted the available tour guides for Metro Manila, I will start on the provincial ones.

September 03, 2006 11:00 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

BTW, my nephew was astounded to realize how much he didn't know about Filipino history, though he graduated from college.

Scary. It also show how unimaginative/unresourceful some of our teachers have become. I'm not surprised the quality of education is dwindling. Perhaps more students will learn it this way, it's not boring and they get to see places and artifacts only found in books.

Anyway, I did a fleeting mention about coloured candles in my blog. I'll send the link thru email. I got stuck in the meaning of the colours. Thanks.

September 03, 2006 11:52 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Problem is, Ipanema, not unless you're a true history buff, the history textbooks used in schools are often sanitized versions or revisions of what actually occured. Case in point: many of my American-schooled friends weren't even taught about the Filipino-American war.

Thanks for your link:

September 03, 2006 12:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, I'll be there in Manila in December. Will let you know about it. Heh.


By the way, have you been to Pangasinan before? Just wondering how does it look like.

September 03, 2006 5:20 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Eric & Ipanema,

I think I can help you out with the meaning of the colors of the candles.
Quiapo is my favorite place in Manila and each time I go there I buy a different anting-anting, a herb, a candle or a love potion! ;-)

White: Wish, purity
Red: Lovelife or love offering for families
Blue: Peace of mind
Green: Financial, money
Yellow: Good Spirit
Pink: Love and Health
Orange: Brightness
Brown: Good Fortune
Peach: Studies
Violet: For Material Wealth
Rainbow: Wishing Candle
Black: Concience

I have a stock of each color in my home.
So guys, that is the secret of my happy life! ;-)

September 03, 2006 7:50 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you very much, Sidney!

During the tour, Carlos, as a gift, asked us each one of us to pick whatever color candle we wanted to light up. I chose red for family.

I should do the same, Sidney -- stock up on some candles to light at home. Great idea!

September 03, 2006 8:24 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Okay, Kyels, just let me know.

Only passed through Pangasinan. The lanscape pretty much looks the same as with all other provinces up north -- until you get to Baguio and beyond, of course.

September 03, 2006 8:26 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Thanks Sidney. I was able to light some colours the last time I was there.

Thanks again.

September 03, 2006 9:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

looked like you had another wonderful day!

September 03, 2006 10:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The folk medicine vendors and the hidden Black Nazarene statue are interesting. There was a similar statue, "Laki Jesus," in my great-grandparents' home in Pangasinan. Man, that statue was scary! Legend says, that the Japanese soldiers got scared of that statue and left my great-grandparents' house alone. (I don't fully believe this legend...)

September 04, 2006 12:07 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Indeed, it was another wonderful day, Bing! A walking and learning experience :)

That's an amusing story by your elders, Aurea. As usual, though you find the herbal cures and the Black Nazarene intriguing, the scientist in you makes it hard for anyone to convince you to believe in some fantastic legends ... hehehe.

September 04, 2006 6:00 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

as always your framing and compositional skills on street photography shines ! :)

September 04, 2006 9:39 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, S.A.! Coming from a photography buff such as yourself, I consider that as high praise, indeed :)

September 04, 2006 10:05 AM  

Blogger Gayzha said...

wow, i would say - these are really photos that remind you most of the streets in that North of Manila! You really had beautiful shots there!

September 04, 2006 2:46 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Jase! Weather was also cooperative on that day :)

September 04, 2006 3:58 PM  

Blogger E. S. de Montemayor said...

i attended Carlos' lecture at the Casa Manila-San Agustin Church area and it was one of the best history lessons one can learn in one afternoon. A must for all tourists!

di kayo dinala ni carlos sa dibidi market or the Golden mosque?

i envy you guys have the time to tour around!

September 04, 2006 6:56 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Jules, that is a great Intramuros tour by Carlos, which I had once attended and posted an entry about:

He really excels in what he does!

September 04, 2006 7:57 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do we get to join a walking tour like the one you experienced. I lived in Metro Manila (in Makati) for 10 years but have not been around it as much as I wanted to.

You have an interesting style.

September 06, 2006 3:18 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Then you have definitely got to try one of these tours, Treu!

Check out these sites:

Carlos Celdran

Ivan Mandy

Their schedules and contact numbers are listed.

Have fun!

September 06, 2006 6:22 AM  

Blogger vina said...

had a great time, señor! hope you enjoyed the goodies!

September 08, 2006 6:36 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

A great time I had, Vina!

And many thanks for the goodies! UBOS NA! hahahaha!

But, they will have a Negros celebration at Rockwell where I'm sure we can buy these stuff :)

Will let you know details. Thanks again, Vina!

September 09, 2006 6:20 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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