The Philippines

The Philippines, an Island country in Southeast Asia, falls into the category of the “Ring of Fire”, much like the Islands of the South Pacific.  Typhoons and earthquakes are common and the temperatures tend to be humid and hot much of the time.  With 11 ethnic group living here, there are 19 different languages spoken. However, the main language of the Philippines is Filipino and 92% are of the people are of the Christian faith.  The Philippines has a rich history and culture, much of it involving the famous patriot Dr. Jose Rizal.  

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Manila is the capital of the Philippines, and has an old section and a new section.  Our time was spent mostly in the old section, but we were able to get a glimpse of the financial and business districts from a distance.

There are lots of fun ways to get around in the city of Manila. Taking a jeepney, motorbike taxi, renting a bike, or simply walking around, like we did, is a great way to see the sights.

There were many advantages of walking the old town because we came across some interesting sights that we would have otherwise missed.  For example, as cat lovers, we enjoyed watching the vast amounts of felines playing and sunning on nearly every street corner. We also got to take a quick peek into the Intramuros Fire Station and even met some of the local fire fighters who work there. The fire station is located inside of the historical walled city of Intramuros.

Rizal Park was our next stop and we enjoyed it’s pictorial history via the beautiful life-sized sculptures representing the life and execution of national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal in 1896. After Rizal Park, we strolled over to Manila Cathedral. This magnificent church is famous for intricate stone carvings, stained glass mosaic and rosette windows andCasa Manila”: a 19th century mansion filled with 16th-19th century furniture. Across the street is San Augustin Church which is the oldest structure in the Philippines dating back to 1571. It had a very medieval flavor to it with it’s rich-wood balcony choir chamber and ornate sanctuary below. The intricate ceiling with it’s enormous crystal  chandeliers completed the old-world feel of this amazing architectural creation.

After walking under the Quiapo Bridge and browsing through the umbrella-covered vender’s shops of handicrafts and souvenirs, we stopped at a local Starbucks to enjoy great coffee, lovely Christmas music, and free WIFI. The Starbucks was in a comfortable cave-like structure with a cinderblock ceiling and the WIFI was lightning-fast!

We finished our day with a self guided tour of Fort Santiago. Here we learned even more about this country’s rich history and all that the people of the Philippines endured to become a nation of their very own. After exploring this historic fort, we strolled down to the river and observed children playing and laughing.  We didn’t see any electronic games or fancy toys.  Only children and families enjoying fun activities such as swimming, running, jumping, playing basketball and even making a game of pebbles in the street.  How refreshing it was to see simple forms of entertainment, strong family values, and wholesome good fun.

Enjoy the photos of this remarkable country andPaalam(Good-bye) for now.

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