Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Walk Tour in Manila | Beyond the Church

My original plan was to go to SM City Manila to buy some Bristol board for my herbarium project, but upon reaching the corner of Victoria Street and Burgos Avenue the plan has changed.

"Turn right to go left," said Hudson Hornet to Lightning McQueen from the movie Cars. So I turned right instead of left, towards the museum of the San Agustin Church. Many times I have seen this church and many times I have captured its marvelous antiquity, but never I did enter its museum. Not until 3:00 PM of the 23rd of January 2011.

The ticket costs 50 pesos, at least for a college student like me. Other admissions cost 100 pesos for the adults, 80 pesos for the oldies, 45 pesos for the high school students, and 40 pesos for the kids. Reasonable enough for a few hours of historical look back in time.

A huge bell would say welcome as you enter the museum. The bell was taken from the other (destoyed) bell tower of the San Agustin Church.

I entered first a room that contains the golds, silvers and saints. Taking pictures inside this room is prohibited (sorry but I couldn't help it - please never do the same).

Pachelbel's Canon in D was being played on a wedding ceremony at the church, adding a classic atmosphere while you stroll around the corridors of the museum.

I found another room that contains Adres de Urdaneta stuffs. He was the man behind the route (the Urdaneta route) used by the Galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico. He was an Augustinian friar. Again picture taking is prohibited (I was scolded by a guard when I tried).

I entered next a room labeled "Crypto". As expected, you'll find a lot of "nitsos" inside. It was quite creepy to be standing alone in front of this burial chamber. In the middle is a monument which remembers the hundred victims of the Japanese brutality during WW2. Inside the crypt is another door which leads to a room that contains wooden carvings and human size statues of saints. The silence was deafening.  

When I got out of the crypt, a food stall awaits me. But no, I was not hungry yet.

I have seen much of the ground floor so I went up the stone staircase to the upper floor of the museum. I turned left towards the room that contains vests and clothes. It smelled old inside. Thick clothing worn by the priests, which looked quite heavy, are displayed inside.

The chior loft, labeled "coro" is my next stop, a perfect spot to view the inside of San Agustin church. A pipe organ is displayed at a corner, rows of wooden seats at the one side and at the middle, an enormous music score book. I can imagine a whole choir singing harmoniously for a mass. I also took a glance at the church's majestic ceiling.

From the "coro", I entered next a room that contains a collection of books. Maybe its a library, books that are large and old, they have them.

The next room I entered contains jars, porcelains and other china-wares. I was overwhelmed by the number of jars in the room. The details on the porcelain-wares are just fantastic.

A gallery of sketches and paintings of Philippine churches as well as photos of Augustinian friars is found on the next room. Some documents are being displayed too.

The last room contains a dining table, paintings and scaled model of the San Agustin Church and Museum.

It was 4:20 PM, I was about to leave and head to SM City Manila. On my way down the stone staircase, a bunch of photographers shoot at the newly weds. I waited there for about 3 minutes until they were done with that staircase photo shoot.

When I reached the ground floor, I heard a familiar voice. It was the voice of the brave man who stood up against the church regarding the Reproductive Health Bill. He is Sir Carlos Celdran, the famed tour guide in Intramuros who became phenomenal when he shouted "Damaso" at the Manila Cathedral.

I was a few steps to the exit when Carlos, on his top hat, shouted, "every body walk this way." So I joined the group of tourists, both foreign and local, and followed him to Father Blanco's garden. On a well with two American flags, he delivered his humorous story of the American occupation of the Philippines. He's speaking fast, very fluent and his mastery of the Philippine history is marvelous. He uses his cassette player for his music background, and a clear book full of pictures for picture presentation. When he was done with his story of the American period, he led us to the crypt where he will tell his next story.

I followed him again to the crypt where he told the story of the WW2 destruction of Manila. But first, we offered a prayer to the dead and victims of WW2 buried in the crypt. It was very funny when he's impersonating General Douglas MacArthur, with a corn pipe and sun glasses. His stories are excellent, it's as if you were watching a comedia in entablado.

I don't know but I was really hooked by Carlos Celdran, I followed him 'til the end of his walk tour at the Casa Manila. He gave each tourist a halo-halo (mixed dessert), which I declined.

The Casa Manila was the final stop of his walk tour, he made his final bow. We replied a loud applause. He also gave everyone a poster souvenir.

It was a great experience, great stories, and I really had a great time with Carlos Celdran's "Walk This Way." A big smile was drawn in my face, it stayed there until Carlos charged everyone, he was charging 1000 pesos for adults and 800+ for kids. My heart then pounded so fast, I started to sweat. I don't have cash with me. So I asked a man there,"where's the restroom?"

I stayed at the restroom for about 3 minutes, then went out and made an escape through the back door of Casa Manila. Bigla ako nakahinga ng maluwag. My Sunday tour was over.

It was exactly 6:00 PM, I proceeded to my original destination and bought the Bristol board.



  1. hahahhaha nice one! and carlos celdran himself caught you dude! and he tweeted about you! :)

  2. Wahahaha. I love this story.

    Come to my Imelda tour for free. Bring a friend. Check my website.

    Carlos Celdran

  3. great feature pre!
    and nice eskapo! hehehe

  4. wahaha. sir carlos. sori po talaga. haha.

    are you serious? I'm honored to join that imelda tour.

    @geisha, nakakahiya.

  5. busted! hahaha.. lovely albeit illegally taken pictures.. keep it up! i mean, the nice blog ok. =))

  6. oops! busted :)) lovely albeit illegally taken photos.. keep it up! i mean, the nice blog ;) enjoyed reading it.

  7. wahahaha!it was a great escape from great carlos celdran! ang ganda pala sa loob ng museum. sayang at di kami pumasok the last time we were there.

  8. tanong lang po, saan po kayo naka-bili ng bristol board? salamat po!

  9. hi anonymous.. meron ako nabili sa SM Manila, yung nasa 5th floor na art supplies.

  10. hahahahah! I would have done the same!

  11. That's great Casa Manila History, that place is one of my favorite historical places in Manila. Thanks for the info!



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