Sashay Back In Time
Intramuros & Carlos Celdran
It’s easy as a visitor to Manila to limit yourself to the bustle and brio all around you, but there’s nothing we love more than getting right to the nitty gritty of a city, and at the very heart of Manila lies a real hidden treasure – the original Manila, Intramuros (literally meaning ‘within the walls’ in Latin).
Stepping back in time into this historic, original, fortified walled city dating back to the Spanish colonisation of the Philippines in the late C.16th, gives a whole new perspective on this fascinating metropolis - but the glowering, thick defensive walls of the Fort Santiago, San Agustin church (the oldest building in Manila, dating from 1607), and the ancient grid of streets freckled with new buildings and modern living, don’t give up their secrets easily.
Which is why we love Carlos Celdran. Flamboyant, spicy and irreverent he may be, but he’s also a fount of history, both social and political, and his natty narrative brings sharply into focus the origins of the Philippine capital and its people in a fun and fascinating way.
Carlos Celdran’s excellent 3-hour Walk This Way tours of the old city (he dresses in the colonial period garb of the Illustrados or ‘elite ones’, but go with it) are sans pareil, providing a mental picnic of bite-sized information on arts, culture and architecture, bestowing context and camp in equal measure. It might be pertinent at this point to mention he also does a fabulously gossipy tour called Living La Vida Imelda, but we’ll leave that for another day!