History doesn’t stay behind us; learning more about the past can help us avoid mistakes and create better paths for our society. And, visiting historical sites in the Philippines is an excellent way to do so. Department of Tourism’s Calabarzon office invited Village Pipol Magazine to visit said places for a Soul Tourism Circuit Experiential Tour in Corregidor, Binondo, and Intramuros.
Learning more about the Philippine history with DOT-Calabarzon
History helps us understand how events in the past made things the way they are today. We not only learn about the country but also understand our culture and heritage. History knowledge is no more and no less than carefully and critically constructed collective memory. Researching history builds and codifies these stories. We learn about how we got where we are and why we live the way we do. Aside from that, we get to learn how people connected with each other and how those interactions affected the way we live now.
Located at the entrance of Manila Bay, south of Bataan, and is considered part of the Province of Cavite. The rocky island has become a national shrine that commemorates the battle between the US and Filipino forces against overwhelming numbers of Japanese during World War II.
The island became was considered a natural fortress. The Spanish fortified it in the 18th century when the island became a registration site for ships entering the bay. After the Spanish-American War, Corregidor also became a U.S. military station.
Then, an elaborate system of tunnels and emplacements was constructed. When Japan invaded the Philippines in December 1941, Gen. Douglas MacArthur chose Bataan and Corregidor as major defense positions.
Touring Corregidor Island via the Tranvia
We started off the tour by riding a 28-seater cable car. It was the main mode of transportation around the island during World War II and has remained the main mode of transportation on the island even after the war ended. However, the ones that traverse the roads are just replicas of the ones used during those days. The tram takes a leisurely pace through the historic island’s heavily wooded roadways.
The first Corregidor Island Lighthouse was a historic lighthouse that became one of the most important lights in the archipelago. Established in 1853, the lighthouse guides ships to the entrance of Manila Bay on their way to the part of Manila, the most important trading center in the country. Located on the highest point of the island, it has an effective height of 639 feet above sea level. It has a rich history that was attached to it that every Filipino should know about.
To continue knowing more about the history, we went to the Malinta Tunnel. The United States Army Corps of Engineers built the tunnel complex on the island of Corregidor. Initially used as a bomb-proof storage and personnel bunker, it was later equipped as a thousand-bed hospital. The name Malinta Tunnel derives its name from the Malinta Hill which is a 390-foo rise through which its shaft is bored.
The word Malinta also means many leeches in Tagalog. The main tunnel measures 831 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 18 feet high. It also runs from east to west, branching off from the main shaft are thirteen tunnels on the north side and eleven lateral tunnels on the south side. Meanwhile, each lateral averages 160 feet in length and 15 feet in width.
Today, the Malinta Tunnel has become the venue of an audio-visual presentation by National Artist Lamberto V. Avellano of events that occurred during World War II. This also includes the evacuation of President Manuel L. Quezon and General MacArthur by using the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three from Corregidor to Mindanao. Aside from that, a plaque in the Malinta Tunnel also marks a spot on the island of Corregidor.
Corregidor Beach Resort Complex
We had lunch at the Corregidor Beach Resort Complex. The 31-room hotel and restaurant offer comfortable and lovely accommodations set on an old building perched on top of a hill at the heart of the island. The hotel is quaint and charming with private facilities; a natural setting, and a tropical ambiance.
Bayview Park Hotel
We ended the day by checking in to one of the most iconic hotels in Manila, the Bayview Park Hotel. For more than 75 years and counting, the hotel provides unparallel services, exclusive privileges, and affordable rates. It is a short walk away from Intramuros, the US Embassy, and Roxas Boulevard. Guests can enjoy a comfortable and convenient ambiance with a spectacular view of Manila Bay sunsets and sunrises.
We can learn history in a different way. Aside from visiting historical sites, we can also learn more about our culture and heritage through food. And, going for a food tour around Binondo is one of the best things to do. It’s the oldest Chinatown in the world, and one of the most-visited towns in Manila. Going on a Binondo food tour will surely give you a cultural and gastronomic experience. In fact, it’s become one of the most popular day tours near Manila.
We started our Binondo food tour by visiting Oishiekun Bites. Located along Ongpin Street, it’s a perfect place to stop for that classic Bola Bola Siopao to satisfy that craving. They also offer high-quality dumplings, siomai, youtiao or Chinese Bicho, fried radish cake, and Chinese kikiam. According to their Facebook page, Oishiekun Bites also allows online orders for pick-ups on Facebook and Instagram.
There are a lot of available food stalls to choose from around Binondo. And, Estero is one of the oldest concessionaires in Binondo. They offer appetizing fired spare ribs, beef hotpot, bihon canton guisado, and so much more. We went to Estero to eat a certain exotic food — fried frog. And, to be honest, it tastes like regular chicken… just forget that you’re eating a frog and it will be okay.
Eng Bee Tin
Eng Bee Tin is the home of the best hopia, tikoy, and mooncakes. Established in 1912, Chua Chiu Hong started off with a simple stall. Of course, we ate some of the deliciously-tasting hopia that definitely satisfied my cravings! Aside from that, they also have a cafe called The Great Buddha that serves hot and iced coffee. Plus, you can also check out their souvenir stalls for pasalubong.
Before we left Binondo, we also visited the Church. Also known as the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, the Binondo Church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve Chinese converts to Christianity. Born of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz actually trained in the church and went as a missionary to Japan where he and his companions were martyred for refusing to renounce Christianity.
The church also has a historical background. Even before the arrival of the Spanish to the Philippines, Chinese traders already lived in Manila. Their population, on the other hand, increased with the advent of Spanish colonization of the country due to increased trade between the islands.
Meanwhile, the architecture went from nipa to wood. American bombing on September 22, 1944, destroyed the structure. Everything including the archives of the parish was burned. Nothing was left behind except the stone walls of the church and the fire-tiered octagonal bell tower. After the war, Binondo parishioners had to make do with a roofless church for several years until it was rebuilt in the 1950s.
Intramuros is a 0.67-square-kilometer historic walled area within the city of Manila. Latin for inside the walls, Intramuros comprises a centuries-old historic district, entirely surrounded by fortifications. The walled city was also considered a religious and educational center. This place had the most history among the other historical sites that we visited during the tour.
Located in Casa Manila, Barbara’s is a heritage restaurant with two main banquet halls. Elegantly built using adobe blocks, the restaurant has a white lime finish, and the Sala Filipina is made up of a wood structure. It features historic architecture typical of the Spanish colonization of the country in the 18th century.
Casa Manila Museum
Casa Manila is a living museum featuring the lifestyle of an affluent Filipino family during the late Spanish colonial period. The facade of Casa Manila was patterned after a house that once stood at Jaboneros Street in the Chinese district of Binondo in the 1850s. The house is accessed through the zaguan, the wide stone-paved passageway under the house which leads to the patio.
Another iconic historical site, Fort Santiago is a citadel built by Spanish navigator and governor Miguel Lopez de Legazpi for the newly-established city of Manila. It became a defense fortress in Intramuros. Several people died in its prisons during the Spanish Empire and World War II. One of the most important people that was imprisoned in Fort Santiago is Dr. Jose Rizal before his execution in 1896.
Baluarte de San Diego
Baluarte de San Diego is a spade-shaped bulwark located inside the historic district of Intramuros. This fort was created from the remains of the upper portion of a circular watch tower built in 1586. It also underwent a series of repairs and restorations after getting damaged during wars and an earthquake. Today, it has become a popular tourist destination that definitely depicted the history of Intramuros. It features shaded walkways, fountains, old cannons, and structures from the preceding century.
Established in 1852, Destilleria Limtuaco is known for being the oldest extant alcohol distillery in the Philippines. Destileria Limtuaco hosts its own museum which opened on February 6, 2018. The stone house was bought by the distillery during the management of Julius Limpe in 1979. There were plans back then to convert the building into a museum but progress on the project was stalled from 1989 to 2004.
Again, thank you Department of Tourism-Region IVA for touring us around Laguna and its tourist attractions. We would love to go back again and bring our friends and family to these destinations!
Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.