11 July 2006

Books in the Walled City

My wife went to Manila at around the same time I left Baguio last Monday early morning. She's off to a business trip: there's a Book Fair at Intramuros running until Friday this week and she's off with some of the library staff to purchase books and update the school's collection.

Yesterday afternoon, most of her colleagues went back to Baguio, and her only companion left decided to stay in the place of one of the book agencies. So I asked her to spend the night in the pad instead. She was concerned about how to get to Intramuros today because she did not want to take a cab by her lonesome. So I volunteered to go with her before I went to work. Yipee!

So after breakfast, we were off to Intramuros, the Walled City. I have been there a couple of times before but each time the place gives me thrill. It's like walking into the past. Old-style houses, the Churches, security personnel clothed looking like it was the Spanish era still (guardia sibil!), and cobblestone streets greet you.
I was thinking of staying only for a short while but when we entered the Book Fair, oh wow! Books and books everywhere! Sure, most are meant for academic institutions, but still there are loads of reference and craft books, general science and art, literature and documentaries! I started to roam around while my wife went around to choose books and pay for purchases. It felt so good to be around books again. Yeah, I can be quite a nerd sometimes.
I asked my wife to buy this book (sorry, no budget right now) with the promise to pay her back on salary day: The Idiot's Guide to winning Customer Loyalty at P1,062.00 and Beadwork and Ribbons (this is for her) at P1,800.00. Yeah, the prices are quite steep but they give bulk discount to schools. And a couple of Discovery Channel video CDs. Wait, I don't have a TV and player at home... good thing I have this laptop I can bring along at home ;-).
Whoops! It's lunchtime! Time flies when you're having fun! One of the book agents went with us to lunch and whisked us off to Barbara's, a rather fancy restaurant. Oooh. It's has a nice, old-fashioned ambience about it: from the stairs going to the restaurant proper, to the chairs and decor.

When we savoured the sumptous sinigang (sour soup) to start the meal, I knew we were in for a flavorful treat. And it was. A variety of pancit, fried lumpia, seaweed salad, eggplant with fish paste, caldereta, fish, and guinataan and pichi-pichi for desert.

After a quick stop to the Book Fair to say my goodbyes, we visited nearby San Agustin Church. Whoopeedoo. I forgot to take a photo of the facade. The church was spacious and exuded solemnity. Outside, some rosary vendors tried selling us some of their wares while nearby foreign tourists listened to their tour guide while they slowly exited the Church.

A couple of SMS messages and calls from the office reminded me that I should really be heading back. So here I am, blogging about this not-so-ordinary day!


  1. I've always loved the Intramuros, ever since I first saw it in 1983. Even if you are blind, you can literally smell the history. I wish all of the rest of the city had the same feel.

    People don't realize that before WWII Manila was called the "Pearl of the Orient." Its hard to believe today, but before the conflict there were only 1 million people living there. It went down to 900,000 in just a few days however, courtesy of the "lovely" Japanese soldiers and sailors who decided to take as many Filipinos with them as possible when the Americans retook the city in early 1945.

    It wasn't just the people who were decimated during those few short weeks; virtually every structure was turned into a defended battlement. At first, the Americans tried to use only small arms to root out the raping and murdering defenders, but when it became clear that that policy was resulting in too many casualties US troops began using tanks and artillery. Much of Manila was flattened as a result.

    There is a reason Douglas MacArthur loved Manila so much, it was downright gorgeous! Wide boulevards lined with wonderful trees, great restaurants, balmy climate, fantastic people, sports fields, and on and on. He was heartbroken when the Japanese refused to declare it an "open" city and forced us to destroy it to free it. Unfortunately, Manila never managed to regain its former beautious glory.

    Most folks living there know nothing of what Manila once was. Very few Filipinos have any awareness at all of most of their history, and it was only 60 years ago. What a shame.

  2. "He was heartbroken when the Japanese refused to declare it an "open" city and forced us to destroy it to free it." duh! sorry, but this argument is downplaying the direct cause of the destruction of not only intramuros but the entire manila area. Who do you think bombed the Post Office? The National Museum? The Manila Cathedral? Etc? Japanese? they may have massacred 100k+ manilenos and burned houses but never bombed buildings like the unrepentant and glorified americans did.

    Douglas McArthur? hah! Tell me how he pardoned the mad Japanese scientists of Unit 731 who experimented on the Chinese so that America can use its secrets for biowarfare.

    sorry, that jingoist pop just got my goat. puso ko!!!

  3. Anonymous1:33 pm

    i love old manila! nandiyan pala ang book fair!!!

  4. Last vacation ipinasyal namin ang mga bata ryan, para mag ka idea sila kung ano yung pinag-aaralan nila dito sa Philippine history.

    Dun sa building kung saan yung naging jail ni Rizal, may guard at nag papa sign sa guest book, so pirmahan naman yung mga kids ko at mga kasama namin, after nun sabi ng guard asan daw yung donation? Donation book pala yun...hehehe..

  5. Anonymous9:32 pm

    nice pics... medyo di ko na nga rin nabibisita ang intramuros... try kong ilagay sa listahan ko yan... :)

  6. Julsitos, do you live close to AC? It's difficult to actually find anyone to talk to around here with any real knowledge or willingness to debate their views. For the most part, not many around here have any real views or opinions on anything, at least not to the point that they are willing to discuss them.

    I'm impressed; you seem to know some history. Our outlooks diverge, but I love the discussion. Sorry you hate us so much though... try to get past that. Jingoistic? If you say so.

    Interesting that you blame us for the destruction of Manila. Well, you are correct; my point exactly. We DID destroy it. Its ironic that part of the reason it happened is that our "flying columns" came in from the north so quickly that the Japanese did not have a chance to complete their flight to the mountains, where Yamashita had intended to continue to fight on.

    Admiral Sanji used the quick advance of the Americans to in effect disobey orders. Defying Yamashita, he commanded his troops to defend the city to the last man. These men committed horrible war crimes, raping hundreds of women of all ages and killing every citizen in sight. We didn't just bomb those buildings you spoke of, we took out any structure from which our forces took fire. How would you have done it?

  7. I was just rereading this post Wat. I LOVE the pics. My brother will be visiting the Phils for the first time in his life this January. We'll be sure to visit the Intramuros.

  8. Anonymous7:12 am

    Hello people!
    buy viagra
    cheap viagra online

  9. Anonymous5:04 pm

    Hello, you are the best.
    Look at my site [url=http://viagra-store.info/]viara[/url].
    Buy http://viagra-store.info#viagra best.

  10. Anonymous8:00 pm

    Have a good day, cool design.
    My page [url=http://www.jahk.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=113]viagra[/url].
    Test http://www.jahk.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=113#viagra cheap.
    thanks a lot.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...