Sunday, November 21, 2010

MANILA: 04 – Was That a Ghost, or Your Grandma?


You can now walk out to the veranda and buy a souvenir. I bought the hardbound version of Noli Me Tángere which serves as a replica of the original manuscript. The text is written in cursive and has Rizal’s notes in it. If you could read en español and you love deciphering texts that look like doctors’ prescriptions, or if you just like collecting books, then this one is for you! El Filibusterismo is also available. They are a bit costly at 800 pesos apiece but well worth the price, and the weight. You could opt for a smaller printed version that sells for 300 pesos. If you have tried searching for the original Spanish versions in bookstores in Manila, you would know how close to impossible it is to actually find one.


The veranda is connected to one of the outer walls of the fort. The veranda wall, on the other hand, is lined with various translations of Mi Ultimo Adiós in German, Czech, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, and Korean, among others.


Breathe some fresh air as you head out towards the Baluarte de Santa Barbara and you will find the tiny house which features the Rizaliana Furniture Collection. Entrance fee is 10 pesos. Okay, you already paid 75 pesos. Why pay again? Do not look at me. I do not run the place. Neither are you obliged to go in there. You have freedom of choice, practice it. If and when you decide to go inside, beware that the ambiance of the main room that houses the furniture collection is a bit creepy. You know the formula: solo flight of a paranoid traveler, old furniture, eerie four-poster bed, dresser with big mirrors. All that is missing is a ghost. It is as if you are already half-expecting that an old lady would suddenly be glaring at you when you take a quick glance at the dining table. Or maybe that is just somebody’s Grandma who fell asleep while resting from a long walk. Fine, I am freaking you out. Blame Lilia Cuntapay and those Shake, Rattle, and Roll movies of the 90’s. Just go in with a group of friends, okay?


After that mini excursion, you can enjoy the unrestricted view of the Pasig River from the wall. You will notice that there are a lot of spots on the ground that lead to the dungeons but have since been blocked by steel bars. Over time, tourists have developed the habit of dropping coins, and in some cases even paper money, in the dungeon entrances. No, you cannot retrieve them, and it is not really a good idea to try to get in there. Since the said dungeons are just next to the river, it is said that many of those who were detained there drowned whenever the river was on high tide. So if you are planning to hide somewhere until it gets dark and go on a ghost hunt, you would probably find what you are looking for. Instant horror movie plot right there! I will write a script.

                                                                                
After this there is nothing left to do but visit the other parts of the wall. There are some sort of theater ruins east of the Rizal statue but one is not allowed entry. The Rizal Shrine is, without a doubt, the main attraction here. So, is Fort Santiago worth the admission price? Well, if you want a refresher on Rizal and that segment of Philippine history connected to him, then the ticket price is well worth it. But then, even if you are not that much of a history buff, just walking around the vicinity already gives you a wave of nostalgia. For a while you forget the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila and get transported to a place with so much historical relevance and some sense of tranquility that you just could not place.


MANILA: 04 – Was That a Ghost, or Your Grandma?

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