Intramuros Open House 2019

It was a hot sunny day when our small blogger group met at Plaza Roma past 7:30 am for the one day Intramuros Open House event.


Manila Cathedral Basilica

They took a chance to explore and enjoy these museums within the walled city. Some of the bloggers are living in northern part of Metro Manila like Deparo,Novaliches, Fairview, Rodriguez, Montalban and San Mateo, Rizal did not have much time to visit the place during ordinary days.

Intramuros Open House

Old Manila Eco Market

Mr. Philip Reyes is one of the early bird at the meet-up place which was the Old Manila Eco Market in front of Manila Cathedral Basilica.


Manila Cathedral Basilica and former Manila Collectibles place


flowering Dendrobium orchids and ornamental plants for sale

Old Manila Eco Market had stalls selling environment sustainable products, flowering plants, handicrafts and food made by locals or ethnic groups.


Manila Cathedral interior


Archbishops of Manila from late 1579 up to the present


Manila Cathedral Basilica – We have waited a couple of minutes and took some time explaining a brief history of the church to the participants.


La Pieta


Fort Santiago entrance

Fort Santiago is our second stop, The well manicured space was a delight to photographers, we saw a lot of intagramers. However it seems hotter compared to what we have accustomed with. It was the paved concrete which gives a heat island effect.


Plaza de Armas


historical marker at the Dr. Jose Rizal’s shrine


Dr. Jose Rizal wax figure




Dr. Jose Rizal cell


lego exhibit- Manila Hotel

The Lego exhibit is one of the MUST See attractions inside the Fort Santiago. I have been there several times. Some visitors keep on touching and playing the lego buildings that some of them have missing parts.



The group met a lot of familiar faces and friends during our tour.

San Agustin church facade

 Except for Philip Reyes and the author. It was the first time for the rest of the group at the museum. The last time i have entered the San Agustin museum was two months ago, when the company that i am working organized a pre-conference tour in intramuros.


columbary units



At the ground floor of the San Agustin Convent and Museum, There was an ongoing Marian exhibit entitled ” Regina Caeli”¬† which also attracted record number of people.¬† We saw Sir Jeff Fernando ( a santo devotee and collector).


botanical prints and samples

We also saw a couple of stamp collectors and heritage advocate at the museum.


 immaculate conception carved from elephant ivories РDon Luis Ma. Araneta collection

 The group enjoyed the two hour or so tour inside the San Agustin convent and museum.


Casa Manila and San Luis Complex

Casa Manila is a three -story rich merchant house in the late 18th and early 19th century. According to travel brochures and some books, This  merchant house was replicated from an actual house in San Nicolas district in Manila. Some materials were from demolished period houses in Manila and nearby provinces.


second floor

The collection also included furniture f rom estate and family collection acquired by Intramuros administration in the early 1980’s up to the mid-1990’s




kitchen area




Casa Manila central courtyard

Casa Manila central courtyard is favorite location set for films, television commercial and wedding reception venue.




Instituto Cervantes – There was an art and bazaar at the second floor of the institute.

The group took a short lunch at the nearby convenient stores, It is much cooler inside compared to the karinderia.


Bahay Tsinoy – Bahay Tsinoy is a resource center,venue and museum. The place also had an auditorium area and resource library.


terracota warrior replica from Xian- donated to the museum

We used to include the museum as part of the extended postal heritage tour.


life size mannequin

The group of Mercedes Maata left after the Bahay Tsinoy museum tour. We were able to get some postcards, books and Tulay newspapers at the lobby.  They use to sell the postcards before.


Museo Destileria Limtuaco signage

We continued our Intramuros and visited the Museo Destilleria Limtuaco which opened their door in 2018.  It was my 8th time in this museum and first time for the rest of the participants.

Museo Destileria Limtuaco facade

( photo courtesy of Mr. Philip Reyes)

Museo de Intramuros– We arrived past 1:30pm at the museum and fall in line to revisit the museum. It was the first time for the rest of the participants. Saw Axl Guinto and Dennis Dy Kho fellow bloggers. According to the security guards manning the museum, The museum is still FREE until the end of the year. Do not the miss the chance to visit the place.

Museo Destileria Limtuaco This used to be an ancestral house of the Limpe family acquired in the late 1970’s. Eventually the ancestral house was converted into a museum and memorabilia center.



Destileria Limtucao company had tucked into their colorful history 5 generations of master blenders.  It was established by a Chinese immigrant born of a merchant family in Amoy, China, Lim Tua Co.






Lights and Sound Museum– The museum opened past 1:00 pm. There were two other schedule held within 1 hour interval.


life-size mannequin


Boy Scout monument  ( photo courtesy : Philip Reyes)

Boy Scout Monument¬† sometimes called Laging Handa Monument beside Colegio de San Juan de Letran. The monument was featured in a local postcard in the late 1960’s. It was printed by Madonna and distributed by Goodwill Bookstore.

The three boy scout featured were the three boy scout from Colegio de San Juan de Letran.

The group also went to the Parian gate area where is an ongoing Likhaan booths. By this time, most of the participants were tired and could not take any photos.

We accompanied Ms. Darylle and her daughter at the foot of Quezon bridge, where they rode an AUV express going to Fairview and the author took an LRT line 1 Central station. Finally bid farewell after almost 8 hours of walking tour within intramuros.

Philippine Heritage Homes- guidebook launching

Casa Manila, Intramuros , Manila-Philippines

Dr. Jaime Laya and Senator Loren Legarda

It was a sunny afternoon when members of the Advocates for Heritage Preservation , Heritage Conservation Society , Ancestral Houses of the Philippines , National Commission for the Culture and the Arts , Intramuros Administration , Turalba Foundaton and Anvil Publishing Company launched the book entitled ” Philippine Heritage Homes ” a guidebook.

invited guests and members of the AHP facebook wearing yellow t-shirts

The event started early in the morning when some of the members decided to have a photo-walk in some of the restored houses within Intramuros .

A short talk about the importance of the ancestral house and the need to preserve them .

Architect Maria Christina Turralba and Dr. Jaime C. Laya

Facebook page members who signed several weeks before ( thread ) of Ancestral House of the Philippines were given a 20% discount by Anvil Publishing House and the authors. The book is co-authored by Dr. Jaime C. Laya , Architect Maria Cristina Turalba and Architect Martin I. Tinio Jr.

Ancestral House of the Philippines book

 There are already plans to  to have a copy of Philippine Heritage Homes Volume 2., which according to the authors  will feature some heritage houses of Visayas and even in Mindanao .


I do not have an idea on the number of books ( quantity) that  were printed by the publishing company,  since it affects the pricing of the book.  I wish they printed more and make it hardbound so  it can be read by more people ( softbound books tend get easily worn-out due to usage) and distributed it to libraries and even useful handbook for history, architecture, heritage , fine arts . The price range of the book is Php495 which is a bit on the middle- range  ( some  guidebooks  / coffee table book /  books ) cost cheaper with almost same number of pages, quality of the paper , book binding, celebrity book author involved. The entire book is about 135 pages which only represent homes located in Luzon area.

Despite the 20% discount at Php 400 , The guidebook is a little but pricey but is cheaper compared to any paper back book.  The good side of having this pocket size book is the ability of any architecture lover to comfortably bring them anywhere as to compared to the large coffee table size books which cost several thousands of pesos!

Typo Error

The book can be easily read in just one sitting . We have notice some typo errors in the scientific name,¬† one such error spotted –¬† ” The interiors of the house was sourced from the Bicol Region . The architectural detail of the interior is a celebration of the gem of Philippine hardwood , narra ( Ptecarpus indicus).” page 59 Sabino -Santos House of Region III.

The scientific name of narra, our national tree is Pterocarpus indicus .

Website link:

Kew Botanic Garden:

National Tropical Garden :

 Some blurred photos on pages 41 and 53. While there were 22 heritage homes that were featured in the book, There are some houses that was featured in the book which had no actual historical value but was reconstructed based on old plans created by the Intramuros Administration from period houses in San Nicolas and old-Intramuros like Casa Manila page 28 to 33, Museo De La Salle page 42 to 45 .

Transplanted Houses like Casa Luna, Casa Candaba, Casa Jaen I, Casa Bizantina , Casa Hidalgo, Casa Alberto , Casa Unisan which is now at the Las Casas de Alcuzar in Bagac, Bataan province.

Handful of Information

The book is loaded with a lot of handful of information about the history , culture, architectural details of the homes . The authors are all expert .

Additional Information

The authors must allot at least 1 or 2 pages for the feature of Las Casas de Alcuzar since ( 7) seven of the heritage homes featured in the guidebook is now currently located in the resort.  I hope that they must also include if the homes that they feature are OPEN to the public or they are just for private functions. I lend the book to one of my friend who wanted to visit one of the heritage homes that was featured in the book but there was no contact information provided.

Overall , I would give a 7.90 Rating out of 10 Points to this guidebook , It is well-written and there are a lot of good photos.

The book is available at Anvil Publishing Incorporated and leading Bookstores nationwide !

Anvil Publishing Inc.


BambooBike Tour of Intramuros : A Unique Way to Travel within the Walled City

Casa Manila , Barrio San Luis Complex, Intramuros, Manila- Philippines

Mr. Bryan Benitez Mc Clelland- founder, bamboo bike builder, socio-ecological entrepreneur, whitewater kayaker, ecotourism developer.

Bamboo Bicycle Tour within Intramuros is an environmental , healthy , educational , cultural , advocacy alternative tour being offered within the historical district of Manila,  Unlike other conventional tours, This is a more environmental way of touring the walled-city.

Casa Manila courtyard

Intramuros which means ” Within the Walls” is in the bucket list of every tourist , student of history¬† when they visit the city. ¬† Participants will be riding through the streets on bamboo bikes that have been hand- crafted¬† by Gawad Kalinga villagers here in the Philippines.

different kinds of bamboo bicycles

Tour participants are requested to come at least 30 minutes before the allotted tour start (10am or 3pm) for a briefing about the company, tour guidelines and a group photo in Casa Manila , Barrio San Luis complex. The tour takes 2.5 hours to almost 3 hours and includes helmet, one water and the entrance fees.

San Diego Garden with guards in a rayadillo costume

Baluarte de San Diego- This fortification was designed by priest Antonio Sede√Īo¬† from 1586 to 1587.¬† This is one of the oldest stone fortifications of Intramuros . The place begun as a circular fort called Nuestra Se√Īora de Guia . The fort was renovated in 1593 to join the walls of the city.¬† The fort was in a state of disrepair after a few years .¬† The new bulwark was completed between 1653¬† and 1663. Resembling ace of spades , it housed a foundry up until the 18th century .

Asplenium nidus or bird’s nest fern

When the British occupied Manila , The wall was breached with cannon fire when they occupied the city in 1762. It was restored after the British occupation but was heavily damaged during the 1863 earthquake. It was condemned by the Spaniards .  It was almost totally destroyed during the battle of Manila in 1945. It was restored and from 1979 to 1992.  Landscaped lawns and carefully mounted native ferns, bromeliads and orchids perch on the trees which add beauty to the garden style setting.

artillery gun – left over by the Japanese troops

The gardens within the walled city are popular wedding , pre-nuptial and venue place.

Puerta Real

The original Puerta Real is a Royal Gate were stately processions is held . The gate was built in 1663 at the end of Calle Real de Palacio (now General Luna St.) and was used exclusively by the Governor-General for state occasions. It was located west of Baluarte de San Andres and faced the old village of Bagumbayan. It was destroyed during the British invasion of 1762 along with the removal of the village. The Puerta Real was rebuilt in 1780 and moved further west to its present location. During the Battle of Manila, the gate was damaged. Now this place is popular among students as some sort of lovers ground, place to relax, events and wedding venue .

cobble stones called piedra china are paved within the puerta real garden

It  area was restored in 1969 with additional works made in 1989. Manila Aquarium  is located about 225 meters from Baluarte de San Diego, Ravellin de Real de Bagumbayan which is part of the outer wall fortifications of Puerta Real  were converted into an aquarium during the American regime in 1913.

  Manila Aquarium pre-war Рphoto :courtesy of Intramuros Administration

It was open to the public under the Bureau of Science .The public aquarium is notable for its collections of fresh water fishes some of which are found endemic to the country . It is not only a tourist attraction in its pre-war days but also a research facility for captive breeding of some native fishes.¬† The aquarium was closed during the war and was badly destroyed . It reopened in the late 1960’s but again closed its doors in 1983. The current revival dates from 1998 to mid- 2011.

Acuario de Manila

The aquarium, renamed Acuario de Manila in 1998 , displays a fascinating diversity of marine life in tanks set against the old adobe walls of one of fortifications along the walls of Intramuros . It was again closed for public viewing and most of the glass tanks and aquarium are nowhere to be found.

 group walked thru the walls of intramuros

I still remember that the entrance is is just Php 50 for the general public and Php 20 for students and senior citizens with valid ID’s . But i think the aquarium met its untimely closure with the opening of a much bigger and more popular Manila Oceanarium at the back of the Luneta Grandstand.

collection of old church bells

view of the golf course and Manila Hotel on top of the walls

Aside from a faster way to explore the walled city-  bambike tour participants had a special privilege of touring some parts of the walls riding  bamboo bikes! This is a privilege granted by the Intramuros Administration to the Bamboo Bicycle operator.

 The Bayleaf Hotel

The BayLeaf Hotel within Intramuros  had a good vantage view of the historic city and Manila skyline.  This boutique hotel was opened in November 2011promises a restful experience for its guests given its 5 star quality bedding, room amenities and a spacious bathroom. The Muralla Ballroom has a capacity of 300 persons or it can be divided into three smaller events place.


Puerta Isabel 2 Gate and Monument

¬†Puerta Isabel 2 Gate was the last gate within Intramuros to be open for pedestrian traffic in 1861. Due to the increasing trade and commerce between Intramuros , Binondo and San Nicolas district . Hence the colonial government had to open new gates for the public. Puerta Isabel 2 was the gate traditionally used by students of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran from Spanish times, until it was alternately closed or opened at long intervals. Until the Americans decided to create a new gate, the Quezon Gate fronting the college main entrance. It had a regular tranvia route by 1890’s which enters its gate.

Monument to Queen Isabel 2 of Spain¬† The monument is called by many acronyms such as¬† ” Reina de Lakwatsera ” , ” Manila’s¬† Most Traveled Statue ” , “Palipat-lipat de Estatwa”, Se√Īora de Lakwatsera” , ” Manila’s Most Celebrated Statue ”¬† among others. It is made of bronze and was funded by donations collected from the city in 1854 and 1855 by Spanish sculptor Mr. Ponciano Ponzano¬† was commissioned to do the work or traje official with one hand holding a symbolic key and the other a dagger by her chest. The finished statute was shipped to Manila was slightly different from what the queen has ordered . The image shows the queen gloved right hand was slightly different from what the queen has ordered .The image held a piece of paper with a text dated 1854 .

It was erected amidst festive ceremonies on 14 July 1860 near Teatro Alfonso XII in Arroceros in what is now Plaza Lawton (Liwasang Bonifacio). The grand procession then collected the archbishop of Manila who celebrated a thanksgiving mass in an open air altar  near the statue . After the mass, military , religious and secular officials gathered at the old Plaza de Arroceros and watched the Governor-General Ramon Maria Solano y Llanderal pulled a cord to unveil the statue  .

Three ” Vivas” were followed by full military honors . While during the evening , music and dances filled the Plaza Real within the walled city , where a public ball was held to end the festivities . The whole unveiling ceremonies cost the Spanish government a total¬† a whopping Php 3,000 !,¬† Php 1,800 went to the grand ball , Php 800 for the decorations and Php 100 as a prize for the ” Best Photograph ” of the event. The Unveiling ceremonies was the ” grandest celebration among the statues erected in Spanish colonial rule” .

¬† After her ouster in 1868 , ¬† It was not long before he set on removing the remnants of the old regime in Manila. The task of destroying the monument was given to Se√Īor Bartolome Barretto, a government official. A sympathizer of the Spanish crown, he refused to carry out the task. Chinese workers were hired to remove the statue and Barretto hid it in his house before the Ayuntamiento ( Marble Palace )¬† reclaimed it. The Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais (Economic Association of Friends of the Country) requested that the statue be made part of their museum collection but de la Torre consigned it to a storeroom in the Casas Consistoriales.

The statue was brought out and erected in front of the Malate Church  in 1896. It remained there for over half a century until in 1970 when it was blown down by Typhoon Yoling aka Typhoon Patsy . The monument was transferred to its present site during the visit of Prince Carlos of Spain in 1975.


Torres, Jose Victor (2005). Ciudad Murada, A Walk Through Historic Intramuros. Vibal Publishing House, Inc. pp.¬†65‚Äď66. ISBN¬†971-07-2276-X.

Maestranza wall and Royal Warehouses /Puerta Almacenes

Kawayang tinik (Bambusa blumeana Schultes)

Before we end the exciting tour,   Our longest stop over was at Fort Santiago  .There is a bamboo garden that is found in the former archeological excavation area .

We were treated to some horticultural knowledge by our tour guide, One of the main materials use in making of the bamboo bike is our very own kawayang tinik ,  kawayan tungkan,  torny bamboo ,  spiny bamboo a  fast growing bamboo species that is found in many areas of the country. The bamboo  grows a dense clump with thick thorns at the bottom part.  The clumps height around 15-25m young clump is waxy at young and become shiny green when mature. 

¬†Buddah Belly’s Bamboo (Bambusa ventricosa) with ugly graffiti

Bambusa ventricosa most notable for its unique clump growth when containerized in stressed conditions. The clumps will bulge and swell, giving it the name ‚ÄúBuddha‚Äôs Belly‚ÄĚ. It is native to China and¬† was introduced to the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world . Filipino landscapers had introduced this foreign species to beautify the landscape and very popular among backyard growers especially the Chinese for it is a good feng shui for gardens and brings prosperity.

Visiting public must always remember that those bamboos are also living ‘things’ and must not¬† left their ugly graffiti marks.

Fort Santiago gate

Fort Santiago- This is the oldest part of the walled city, some historians said that it even pre-dates the founding of the walled city. It is where the ancient kuta ( wooden palisade ) of Rajah Sulayman at the mouth of the river. When the Spaniards took Maynilad , They built a fort from the ruins of the old Muslim fortification.

Postigo de la Nuestra Se√Īora del Soledad (Postern of Our Lady of Solitude ).

Don Simon de Anda y Salazar escaped via this small opening  during the height of the British occupation of the walled city .  The Real Audencia also appointed Anda as Lieutenant Governor and Visitor-General. That night Anda took almost half  of the treasury and official records with him, departing Fort Santiago through the postern of Our Lady of Solitude, to a boat on the Pasig River , and then to Bulacan. He moved headquarters from Bulacan and to Bacoloor , Pampanga.

memorabilia items

The fort is one of the most important historical sites in Manila. Several lives were lost in its prisons during the Spanish , American and Japanese rule.

Dr. Jose Protacio R. Rizal was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896. The Rizal shrine museum displays memorabilia of the hero in their collection and the fort features, embedded onto the ground in bronze, his footsteps representing his final walk from his cell to the location of the actual execution.


The cost of the tour is only Php 1,200 pesos for the regular 2.5 hours, but they also have an express tour that only lasts for 1 hour and cost half of the original price.

Open: Tuesday – Sunday
9 am – 6pm

1 hour custom tours are available
Choose your own adventure
Price starts at PHP 600 per person
Please inquire for details and reservations

Bookings:  +63 (2) 525 8289 or email us at

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