Attention, history buffs and creatives! A 16th– century wall inside Intramuros is being converted into a modern creative hub.
Home to old baluartes, churches, plazas, and palacios—some of which are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Intramuros is the ultimate go-to place for a history lesson on Old World Manila. With so much history, it seems that the modern world has no place inside the Walled City. But the Intramuros Administration (IA) and the Creative Economy Council of the Philippines (CECP) have more plans in mind for Intramuros: to make the Walled City the home not just of history but of creativity in Manila, an official communal space for modern Filipino creatives.
To be constructed along the 300-meter-long Maestranza wall, the Maestranza Creative Quarter will house studios, galleries, production areas, incubation spaces, and cafes in its 44 chambers. A roof deck is envisioned to house bigger art-related events. The Maestranza is historic because it was used to store goods and house soldiers during the Manila-Acapulco trade,thanks to its accessibility from the Pasig River. It was devastated by the Americans in their attempt to liberate Manila from the Japanese during WWII.
“Right now, what we’re trying to do is create a new narrative for Intramuros. It’s not just a hub for history [and] culture, but the added touch of creativity for the new space,” said IA Administrator Atty. Guiller Asido.
But since it will take some time for the creative hub to take form, here are other spaces and activities you can explore inside the Walled City to feed your creative souls:
Visit Museo De Intramuros and other museums
The recently opened museum, which was built upon the ruins of an old Jesuit church, is offering free admission for the next six months and houses artifacts and exhibits about the Catholic evangelization of the Philippines. You can also visit Bahay Tsinoy, a museum dedicated to the Filipino-Chinese community and the early Chinese settlers in and around Intramuros. And if you want to see how the people of Old Manila lived, go to Casa Manila, a museum that replicates the home and daily routines of a rich Filipino family from the 1800s.
Shop at Silahis Arts and Artifacts
Popular with tourists, Silahis Arts and Artifacts is a great place to shop for gifts and souvenirs as its products are dedicated to Philippine culture and arts. Entering the shop feels like entering a museum with many artifacts reflecting the cultural heritage of the country and its Asian neighbors.
Eat at Barbara’s
Famous for their Spanish-Filipino dishes such as callos and lumpiang ubod, Barbara’s offers more than its delectable food. The carved staircase, silver mirrors, and grand chandeliers surely have a place in your Instagram feed. Add to that the cultural experience of dining while being entertained by Filipino folk dancers. Go ahead and party like it’s the 19th century!
Go on an Ecotour
While the Walled City is famous for its kalesas, try something different by going on a guided tour riding a bamboo bike. Bambike Ecotour offers tours of Intramuros and other areas.
My Pope tip: The Intramuros Experience tour (P,1200) comes with a free reusable bottle of water to avoid the use of single-use plastic while the Sunset Tour (1,200) ends with drinks on the roof deck of Bayleaf Hotel to—you guessed it—catch the sunset.
Catch We ART Intramuros 2019
Happening on May 26, Puesto Manila will host a fun day of art and craft market, workshops, exhibits, and live performances at the Puerta Real Gardens. Support local artisans by checking out their wares and learn from them at the same time, join arts and crafts workshops, and buy some local comics and books. Visit their Facebook page for more details.