Sunday, November 21, 2010

MANILA: 03 – Leave Rizal’s Golden Footsteps Alone!


Salute the flag, climb the steps, and then cross the bridge. Notice how picture perfect the floating water lilies are? It is unknown if hardcore camwhores are permitted to jump in to join the said water plants for a nature-inspired photo op. Ask the people running the place first before doing so just to be sure.


The fort’s entrance is characterized by an elaborately designed archway and pairs of golden footsteps said to trace Rizal’s path going to Luneta, where he was shot. Please do not attempt to steal the golden footsteps. There is no guarantee that they are authentic, and you would look like a total idiot trying to detach them from the ground. If you do succeed, may Rizal’s foot (left, right, or both of them) haunt you forever, you shameless creature.


Upon entering the arch you would immediately notice a big patch of green grass, in the middle of which is a statue of Rizal. You know what comes next. Picture! The open space gives you a good perspective of the whole area and some of the few attractions you might want to see. However, you could follow the itinerary presented here if you want a more concrete plan.


Entrance to the Rizal Shrine is already included in the 75-peso fee. It is easy to locate since it is the only house in the area, right next to Rizal’s statue. In fact you do not have to locate it at all since it is already there! Photography is allowed inside as long as you do not use flash. The small antechamber flows right into the museum where various Rizal memorabilia, from tiny sculptures to the first edition of the Noli Me Tángere, are displayed in separate vitrines. One unique feature of the room is the row of steel sheets extending from the ceiling down to the floor. Engraved on them are Spanish poems that Rizal wrote with translations in German, French, English, and Tagalog. The room is not that spacious so better put the hyperactive kids on a leash lest you want to pay a fortune for such priceless historical artifacts!


There is only one exit leading to the patio but the gate is locked. You could still access it from the outside. You are then left with the option of turning left or right. On the right corner is the room where Rizal was incarcerated. There is a tiny anteroom with historical pep talk in Tagalog and English inscribed on them. To the right you can see a narrow room leading to another room where a human figure is seen seated in front of a desk. The entrance to the said room is barred by a barrier rope, so you are limited to just looking and snapping a photo. Do not visit alone particularly at nighttime if such scenarios give you the jitters. You would not want to leave a smelly souvenir in case you pee your pants.


Walk back to the hall and go straight, heading towards the staircase. Now the walls on this side of the house are decorated by a handful of paintings. The ones on the ground floor seem to tackle Rizal’s professional life. Those above show a glimpse of his love life, namely that Japanese chick and Josephine Bracken. You could choose to go out straight to the veranda where there is a stall selling souvenirs or enter the room to the right where you can find around five more glass cases carrying various Rizal items such as his vests, coats, an old epee, etc.


The next room has a unique name which I unfortunately forgot. What is the Room of Words for 500, Alex? Not quite. That sounds lame. It is written at the door. What comes to mind is Room of Requirement. This is what happens when you watch too much Harry Potter. Damn, I digress. Anyway, this room is anything other than cramped. You can breathe now, claustrophobics. It is so roomy you could play jai alai inside, not that it is allowed though. The awesome thing is that the whole Mi Ultimo Adiós is engraved on the wide white wall on the far side of the room. Some sort of blurb is also written on the wooden floor. And then there is that single glass case near the door which displays some sort of lamp. I am not sure for my attention was caught by a Filipino tourist guide explaining something in Nihongo to some Japanese tourists.


MANILA: 03 – Leave Rizal’s Golden Footsteps Alone!

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