Intramuros, A Filipino Heritage

A popular quote of Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero, goes “Ang hindi marunong tumingin sa pinangalingan; hindi makararating sa paroroonan.” (He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination.) In concurrence with Rizal’s words, I always keep in mind, my origins. Thus, when I visit, I take it as an opportunity to reacquaint with my Filipino heritage.

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A wall of pictures of Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, at the Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago, Intramuros.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge, “Heritage”, brought to mind my last visit to my motherland in 2015. My family and I played tourists, and explored Intramuros, the oldest district in the Philippines built by Spanish conquistadores in 1571. It was the seat of government in Manila when Las Islas Filipinas was a subject of the Spanish Empire.

Plaza Roma

Intra is Spanish for “within”, and muros means “walls”. Intramuros stands for “within the walls”. Intramuros is known as the Walled City.

The Philippines was under Spanish rule for more than three hundred years. Spanish influence is deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture – beliefs, traditions, food, among others. To get acquainted with the Philippines, one has to get acquainted with its history under Spanish occupation.

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The Spanish brought Catholicism to the Philippines. It is deeply embedded in the nation’s culture, earning the title as the only Catholic country in Asia.

There’s no better place to do this than in Intramuros, the walled city built by Spanish conquistadores.

I’m sharing a glimpse of the Philippines’ Spanish past via Intramuros. A stop by these various attractions gives a bit of information on the country’s history under the Spaniards.

1) Plaza Roma is the center of Intramuros. Here, is a monument of Charles IV of Spain to honor his sending the first batch of smallpox vaccine to the Philippines.

2) Manila Cathedral is a Roman Catholic basilica in Plaza Roma. It is the see of the Archbishop of Manila. The cathedral had been visited by three popes – Paul VI, John Paul II, and Francis.

3) Manila Collectible is a gift shop featuring original Filipino products. The lady who tends the shop gave our group a free talk on alibata, the indigenous alphabet of the natives in the Philippines. One does not need to buy anything. This shop is a wonderful way of getting to know the products of the different regions of the country.

4) Calle Real is a street in Intramuros that shows what it was like during the Spanish era. There were cars parked on the street which was an eye sore. Just erase them from the scene to get a more authentic visual. 😉

5) San Agustin Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original church made of bamboo and nipa no longer stands. It was the first religious structure constructed by the Spaniards in Luzon. San Agustin Church is the oldest stone church in the Philippines.

6) Puerta Sta Lucia is one of the Gates of Intramuros. Visitors can actually walk along the walls. There are some pretty views around to see. We happened upon a TV or movie shoot. This brought some excitement to our group as they spotted a local heartthrob.

7) Casa Manila is a museum showing colonial lifestyle during Spanish occupation. Made of stone and wood, it is a copy of a grand house from the 1850’s . Inside the mansion are furniture and decor popular among the wealthy in Spanish times. 

8) Fort Santiago is a fortress built in 1590 by Spanish conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. It is where Jose Rizal was imprisoned before his execution. Inside, is the Rizal Shrine Museum that displays Rizal memorabilia.

Noli Me Tangere, or Touch Me Not is one of the two books written by Jose Rizal criticizing abuse of Filipinos by their Spanish conquistadores.

 Spanish influence in the Philippines is very visible. Visitors can see it in the beliefs, traditions, and customs of the Filipinos. That influence is part of my heritage. Although I have changed my citizenship, and have embraced my new country with all my heart, I am not allowing myself to forget where I came from. As Jose Rizal said, “Ang hindi marunong tumingin sa pinangalingan…”

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About Dee Gilbert

I am one half of a couple who loves to travel; the half who likes to write and share travel experiences. Reading about travelers' experiences inspire me more to see the world. So, I thought, perhaps in my own little way I could inspire others, too. :)
Gallery | This entry was posted in Asia, Photo Challenge, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Intramuros, A Filipino Heritage

  1. Pingback: Heritage: Shiva Temple | What's (in) the picture?

  2. Boots says:

    Intramuros is my favorite place in Manila.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arlene says:

    So nice of you to feature these sites Dee, our cultural heritage.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. vinneve says:

    I love Intramuros I was happy while being a student there!

    Liked by 1 person

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