Sunday, November 21, 2010

[MANILA] The Statue Who Loved to Shower

Technically, the wall does not end because it surrounds the whole area. Okay fine, it does end because the side of the district facing the Pasig River has no wall. What is being said here is that you cannot really stay on the wall and expect to go around the whole district. There are some restricted areas where you have no choice but to go down and hit the streets.

This is when you head back to the Baluarte de San Gabriel and take the other route. Looking down, you get to notice that the bricks actually have a year engraved on them, which either reads 1861 or 1981 depending on your common sense. The year is clearly 1861, but the hell do you care if you flunked Philippine History anyway, right? Going straight ahead then left leads you to a set of steps landing under another archway. Across the street is one of Letran’s side walls. Turning right leads to a monument dedicated to boy scouts. Although it is not one of the more famous landmarks, it is yet again another perfect photo op for certified camwhores. Go straight ahead and the road leads you to one of the exits.

Upon exiting the gate, look to the right and you will notice a building painted white and green. That is the Bureau of Immigration. Still on the right just beside you are two coffee shops, one of which is Starbucks. To your left is the BPI Building where the Santo Domingo Church and Convent once stood. In the middle of the intersection is Plaza España where a statue of Felipe II, the country’s namesake, is erected. To its right are the ruins of the Aduana building (Customs House). Across the Aduana is a Jollibee branch. There are two more fast food chains (Greenwich and Chowking) along Andres Soriano Street (aka Aduana Street). The ruins of Ayuntamiento used to be along this street but are currently being demolished to give way to the construction of a new building. Rest your legs and grab a quick bite in the fast food of your choice. This tour is far from over.

The Manila Cathedral is hard to miss halfway through Aduana Street. In front of it is Plaza de Roma, where another statue is condemned to a state of perpetual shower thanks to the fountain. To the right of the plaza is the Palacio del Gobernador, which is said to not bear any resemblance at all to the old building that once stood there. For agnostics who have no interest in architecture and have nothing else to do in a church other than snap a been-there-seen-that picture, then by all means, stop by Manila Cathedral. Or turn right to General Antonio Luna Street if you want to visit Fort Santiago first, which is recommended since it is out of the way.

The open gate easily seen from the road is actually the exit and is usually guarded by a Guardia Civil. To enter Plaza Moriones, head to the west gate where you will find the ticket booth. There is an entrance fee of 75 pesos for adults and 50 pesos for senior citizens and students, provided an ID is presented. You can try to cheat your age if you like but remember that you are not doing Philippine Tourism any favors by doing so. With all the brouhaha surrounding the DOT’s new Pilipinas Kay Ganda slogan, they obviously need all the help they can get.

Plaza Moriones has the usual garden-fountain combo at the center. There are modern looking kalesas roaming around that you could ride, although this isn't recommended since Plaza Moriones can easily be crossed on foot. Situated north of the plaza is the entrance to Fort Santiago.

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