Here’s something I happily recommend to tourists, balikbayans and countrymen wanting to know a piece of the country’s history or simply rediscover their roots. Manila Hotel, the grand old dame of this city’s hotels, is offering a Manila Revisited special room package inclusive of transport and a tour of the following landmarks: Fort Santiago, Jose Rizal’s Execution Site, Casa Manila, Palacio del Gobernador, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and the former headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur.
The room package is inclusive of buffet breakfast, welcome fruits and drinks. (Okay, special mention must also be made of the hotel’s 24-hour free wifi!) Superior deluxe is priced at P7,500 net for single occupancy and P8,500 for double. If you’d like to avail of the luxurious Sunset/Sunrise suites, it’s P15,500 net for single occupancy and P16,500 net for double.
Above: Manila Hotel’s grand lobby. Other establishments may be newer, but I’ve always liked this hotel for its character and sense of history. The 100-year old building has played host to countless international statesmen, celebrities and events.
We were invited to see for ourselves the Intramuros tour that comes with the hotel package and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I always pride myself with knowing a big part of Manila. I came out of this tour humbled and thoroughly enlightened of the past life of our ancestors, notably the national hero Jose Rizal.
We rode to Intramuros and Rizal Park in horse-drawn carriages or kalesa. Trailing us was a tranvia (old style street tram) with a group of musicians onboard.
It’s been a long time since we visited Fort Santiago and it was refreshing to see the serene greenery of its small park.
This fort was envisioned as a citadel by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and it was also here that Rizal was imprisoned prior to his execution. Inside Fort Santiago, there’s a Rizal Shrine museum where one can see Rizal’s sculptures, memorabilia and a striking painting of Rizal by Carlos “Botong” Francisco.
Stopping by Casa Manila gives one an idea of the sprawling houses of the rich in the 18th and 19th centuries. I enjoyed seeing antique furnitures, intricately designed four-poster beds and even a manually-operated fan.
Our tour guide led us to this little-known spot in the sprawling Rizal Park which reenacts Rizal’s execution through a series of sculptures.
After visiting Fort Santiago, Casa Manila & trudging through the rest of Intramuros in our kalesa, Rizal Park was our last stop. We returned to the hotel at the stroke of dusk.
In Manila Hotel, don’t miss the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Suite. It’s $2500 a night but you can request for a free look-see. Gen. MacArthur lived in the hotel for a long time and some of his personal effects are still here, like his military cap and a pair of chairs that survived the bombing of the Second World War.
Note: the tours are administered by the Castillian Carriage and Tour Services specializing in guided trips of Intramuros and other historical sites administered by English-speaking guides.
The Manila Hotel
One Rizal Park, Philippines
Tel. No. (632) 6270011