Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :
*Disclaimer : I try to maintain my blog as an APOLITICAL one so this isn’t about views and opinions about any issue. :)
“How many times have you been inside Malacanang Palace?” asked by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks to our group of 14 tourists –a mix of locals, balikbayans and a few foreigners. One of us replied, “Four!” …I thought my previous Malacanang experience was absolutely no match because I only answered, “Once“…
Then Ivan continued to ask, “How many times have you been to SM (Shoemart Department Stores)?
I smiled. :)
Apparently, setting foot inside the grounds where President of the Philippines resides and takes office doesn’t happen on a daily basis. Needless to say, it’s another EXTRAORDINARY experience for us. Thank you, Ivan for the invites! My wife, my dad-in-law and I definitely enjoyed every bits. Brilliant!
We began The Power, Palace and A Shot of Beer Walking Tour in one of the art-deco huge houses in San Miguel, Manila– the Legarda Mansion, that’s known to others as the fine-dining restaurant, La Cocina de Tita Moning. From there, Ivan escorted us through a parallel of San Miguel all the way to the stone throw away, Malacanang. The drizzle that Wednesday afternoon wasn’t an issue to get us in the Palace.
ORGANIZED… Several days prior, we received an email with reminders of what to expect, where to meet, the how-to-get-there-map, and whatnot on the this walking tour. Our names were collected for submission as guests to the Kalayaan Hall or the Malacanang Palace Museum thus, getting inside was such a breeze (Do you think PSG did a character-investigation prior to the tour? haha, just asking!). Understandably, since we’re paying the highest office of the land a visit, our bags and bodies were scanned; cameras were labeled with red-orange PSG stickers (I just didn’t get it why PSG asked us-those with cameras to have a test shot with them or point and shoot it first at anything…). Ivan explained everything’s a protocol, of course.
With utmost humility, I got 1.25 (highest of 1.0 and lowest of 5.0) in Philippine History back in my days when I was taking up my pre-medical course at Far Eastern University (who cares, right? even the carebears don’t care, toinks!). Defensively, I am neither a History geek nor a happy-g0-lucky kind of guy. I just don’t know up to now what soul got into me those days that I became so fascinated with Agoncillo’s book on Philippine History and taking essay-type-of-exams in our class wasn’t difficult for me. With more than a decade after, I forgot everything I’ve learned. Haha! Well, almost.
INFORMATIVE…Glad I was one of the participants of this walking tour because A LOT of things that happened in the past were not found on books. And Ivan had refreshed and informed us even of things unfamiliar to many. Case in point are these four men on a set of painting who contributed to the Philippine History. The only name that rang a bell to my ears was Hernando de Magallanes who toured the globe before he got killed with his Portugese Christian soldiers by a native ruler of Mactan, Cebu–who else but Lapu-lapu. (Iyong iba, di ko ka-facebook, hehehe!) :)
Apart from history and politics aside, Malacanang Palace as a tangible structure in my humble opinion, is very Filipino or at least represents who we are, how we evolved through the years. Inspite of the fact that the exteriors reminds us of Spanish colonial regime, it boasts of intricate carvings on solid wood inside its vast and countless rooms that obviously reflect talent, skills, artistry and craftmanship of Filipino people.
Must have that detailed shot…
INTERESTING…wood carving galore!
One can easily tell that those solid wood carvings from Narra, Kamagong and other finest lumber are symbolic of our resilience amidst adversities, or was it only my interpretation? I hope others won’t perceived it as luxuries in the heart of a third world country (Did I just mentioned this blog would not discuss social and political issues?).
NEVER BORING… The tour featured almost all corners of the museum and the stories behind them.
even the electric sockets should look authoritative? :P
NOSTALGIC…Alas, my solitary memory of Malacanang Palace resurfaced from my lazy cerebrum. Upon the sight of the rooms, I remembered Imelda Marcos’ shoes, Ferdinand Marcos’ five libraries with vast collection of books, their gorgeous paintings, Madame’s canopied bed with wooden crown at its top, her toilet boasting of jars of perfumes with actual miniscule faucets and a lot more of Marcos’.
COMPELLING… How does a ruler convince his people to follow his lead?
Martial Law may have scarred the many; thus, looking at the same chair and table where it was proclaimed could hyperstimulate your senses or worst, can be disturbing…
ENGAGING with WITS and HUMOR…As a lecturer myself for almost a decade now, I have learned to make my classroom discussion interactive, lively and enticing despite a boring topic. And the Ivan Man Dy certainly knows to do the same, in fact far better than my limited skills. He makes Philippine History soft and chewy to absorb by the common tao, much more by the foreigners who most of the time are clueless of our own story.
Folks, meet the most participative tourist in our group, Mr. Primo (the one wearing Fedora hat and eyeglasses). He’s the man who made the tour more fascinating. He had the most extensive commentaries.
To me, students who come to my classes so prepared and well-read, are definitely a challenge. And Mr. Primo is similar to such, that with his impressive knowledge on Philippine History, his great discussions with Ivan made me think he could effortlessly pass as a Dean in an academe or simply put, he’s someone who experienced the tales being told.
FANTASTIC... The tour featured the priceless art works of Filipino artists as well as gifts from foreign dignitaries that are all housed inside Kalayaan Hall.
There’s something for everyone to be interested with…
And of course, there were those photo-op moments…
After more than 2 hours, we walked our way out of the Palace and Ivan led us back to the Legarda Mansion (not of Senator Loren’s but Atty Katrina’s family).
The tour promised a fine-dining merienda, et voila!
We enjoyed it in an-open-air-dining area within the simple garden of the Legarda’s. The ambiance was so casual yet the offerings were special.
We were treated to a delicious light snack but absolutely less ordinary…
However, they made the dessert less sweet (perhaps, they’re considering the diabetic tourists/diners). Sayang, I like it done with more sugar.
For the nth time, this tour’s called, Palace, Power and A Shot of Beer. So other than that refreshing and refillable Tanglad Iced Tea (Lemon Grass Iced Tea) and cold water, here’s that single shot of San Miguel Beer, cheers! :D
It was so nice to end a tour with a simple feast. But lo and behold, Ivan gave us a plus! After I told him that I read somewhere that the Legarda Mansion houses a doctor’s clinic (the patriarch and his 4 kids were all MDs), without hesitation, he invited all of us for a short but another impressive tour inside La Cocina De Tita Moning.
The experience inside the Legarda Mansion deserves a separate post…Soon! :)
For interested parties to join Ivan Man Dy’s tours of Manila, contact them via their website at OLDMANILAWALKS.COM
Manigong Bagong Taon po sa lahat at Maraming Salamat! May the good Lord continuously shower us with His divine grace.