Explore Manila, capital of the Philippines, through the eyes — and in the footsteps — of its most enthusiastic proponents. Has your family seen the hit musical “Here Lies Love” about Imelda Marcos and recent Philippine history? If so, this outing in the capital city will intrigue everyone in the family. And while it’s easy to get caught in the massive shopping malls and busy commercial districts — not to mention traffic — the most interesting parts of Manila are actually away from the urban hustle.
According to two walking tour guides, the culture and character of Manila lies in its oldest and oft-forgotten parts. Walk with them and you’ll see why.
If These Walls Talked to Carlos Celdran
Carlos Celdran is the celebrated guide owner of Walk This Way tours. They are something of a novelty — a fun and delightfully entertaining novelty. Walk with him through the cobblestoned streets of Intramuros or “Old Manila”, and you’ll marvel at how these centuries-old walls come to life with his animated storytelling and accompanying soundtrack.
Decked in costume and toting a cassette stereo, Celdran regales, rhapsodizes, and raves about the bygone eras of Spanish mestizos, bedroom chamber pots, and General MacArthur. Celdran has done his very leisurely walking tours for many years now, and If These Walls Could Talk is by far the most popular tour in his repertoire.
Not only is Celdran a well-traveled, well-educated artist, but he is clearly one who does his research and is passionate about history and current events. He continually upgrades his material, and his enthusiasm level never dips, even if he has to perform his tours everyday, sometimes twice a day. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Celdran is a veritable artist. In fact, he is of the best kind — the kind that cares about and actively contributes to the country that shaped him.
If These Walls Could Talk, the Intamuros Regular Walking Tour runs three hours from San Agustin, Casa Manilla. Please note this tour has slightly mature content and is recommended for ages 8 and above. It is being offered twice a week during the winter season. Rates run Php1,100 (about US$25) for adults, Php600 for students. (Student rates are for Philippine schools only).
You can contact him for group rates (over 10 people) or ask about a private family tour. All tour dates, additional information and itineraries can be viewed through Carlos Celdran’s website at Celdrantours.blogspot.com or by contacting him at [email protected] or by texting +63 920 9092021 with any questions. Note that pets are welcome to come along, if owners guarantee to pick up after them.
Old Manila Walks with Ivan and his Team
Ivan ManDy is a Chinese-Filipino (or Tsinoy, as we call them) who hails from Chinatown, Manila and runs Old Manila Walks. His strong connection to his childhood home and his intimate knowledge of it inspired him to give walking tours in this normally ignored part of Manila, which he’s done since 2005. His most popular tour, The Big Binondo Food Wok takes participants around the nooks and crannies of Chinatown, particularly through a gustatory viewpoint. The 3.5-hour escapade begins at the Binondo Church near Chinatown, where ManDy dishes on the best places to get dimsum, Chinese herbal medicines, and knock-off purses.
Old Manila Walks also offers tours of surrounding historical areas such as Intramuros and the Chinese Cemetery. The latter location is the tour site for Mounds, Magnates, and Mausoleums. Walk with ManDy as he discusses the taipans of Philippine society amid their ostentatious burial sites. If 2½ hours of walking through gravesites is too much to stomach for an idyllic vacation, you can always count on the Chinatown food tour. ManDy is intent on sharing his heritage with the world, and if he has to, he’ll win you over with tasty dumplings.
Kids are welcome on all Old Manila Walks provided they’re up for some walking. The guides try to make Manila’s history and culture as interesting as possible. Rates vary by tour but start around Php1,100 (US$25), a bit more including all food samples. For more information, please contact Old Manila Walks at [email protected], call or text +632-918 9626452, or call their reservations office in Manila at (632) 711-38-23.
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