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October 31, 2010

Inside Intramuros

I went to Manila last weekend to do some "important" stuff and it happened that I had to go to Intramuros. This historic "Walled City" used to be the Center of Manila during the Spanish Occupation. It withstood the short-lived invasion of the British, the occupation of the Americans, the onslaught of the Japanese and the bombing of the Americans who came to liberate the city from the retreating Japanese. it survived earthquakes and typhoons. Most of its original buildings have been destroyed during World War II. Thus, the present structures were reconstruction of the originals.

I had enough time to walk around Intramuros and even visit the Manila Cathedral and the historic San Agustin Church. Somehow, I could not help but think of my recent experience in Europe, when I was fortunate to visit similar ancient "Walled Cities" in Estonia and Sweden.

Intramuros has the potential to be like those medieval towns in Estonia and Sweden where thousands of tourists would flock to stroll through its streets and alleys. Intramuros, for one, already has a historic appeal to both the Western and Oriental tourists who come to Manila.

What is so frustrating is that Intramuros, while historically attractive, seems to be physically less stunning. I could not help but notice the trash and the stench in some places which could literally push tourists away. Informal settlers residing right at the very center of Intramuros sadly decrease the physical appeal of this tourist spot.

I am not sure about the Department of Tourism's vision for Intramuros but like I said, this place has potential to draw a lot of tourists who love to visit historical sites and old churches and buildings.

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