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Published: August 19th 2008
Sitting under the canopy of a dilapidated bus station in some unknown barrio in Manila, we waited on sunrise
. It was barely after 5 am. We had spent the night on the bus from Banaue. When it became bright enough and busy enough we eased in to a jeepney for a random drive around. Since we could no longer sidestep Manila, we determined to experience a little of it.
We asked for directions to Intramuros - the 16th century district - still trying to avoid the crush and chaos of modern, downtown Manila. Located on the southern bank of the river Pasig, Intramuros brims with Spanish colonial history and architecture. The city still carries shades of its former glory as an imposing walled fortress but most everything was ruined after World War II. We cut a particularly interesting sight wandering the quiet back streets with oversized backpacks and the wide-eyed curiosity of tourists. "Father" Ignacio hailed out to us from inside a small eatery. Over a breakfast of 'pancit' - tasty, thin noodles - and rice, we learnt that "Father" Ignacio had earned his clergyman title because he had 'accepted Christ and changed his ways'
. With that knowledge and because
he looked so trustworthy and 'father-like', we had little hesitation when he offered to store our bags while we explored the neighborhood. Free from our luggage, we disappeared into the tiny streets and thru the alleyways of Intramuros.
Faded, peeling pastel colors; old city walls; cobbled streets and monumental churches are the relics of Spanish era in the Philippines. The Manila Cathedral and the weathered San Augustin Church with its gorgeous, ornate interior were notable visits. We gained entry to Fort Santiago, which sits squarely at the entrance to the Pasig River and which once served as the prison of local hero Dr. Jose Rizal. Part of it is now a dedicated shrine to the work of Dr. Rizal including the cell where he spent his final days and penned his last and most famous poem, Mi Ultimo Adios
Late in the afternoon we headed back to Father's barangay and retrieved our bags. Cebu Airlines departed on time and we waved our 'primero adios' to the Philippines. In a spot of good fortune for our wallets, we caught the last bus enroute from KLCCT to Kuala Lumpur. A slight drizzle greeted us when we exited the bus in Chinatown. The
normally ultra-busy streets were as bare as could be expected at 1:50 am on a rainy night. The door to Grocer's Inn was closed. The lights were off. Our banging and shouting were unanswered. And the rain started in earnest. 😊
😊 'Father' Ignacio The jury has decided
: Filipinos are the friendliest people in the world. Pssst
: if you disagree, send us tickets to your country and we'll stop by for a look-see.
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