Words by Gianna Sibal
Photos by Verna Sevilla
When I hear ‘Quiapo’, I think about the rule: “Bags in front.”
However, given the impressions as one of the most unsafe places in Manila, this day tour will make you see Quiapo in a different light. The Bukas Quiapo Tours showed me, during my first time there, that it has a rich history and culture, and that it is more than just its impressions.
Fundación Santiago, one of its initiators alongside the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation Inc., shared that this day tour took two years in the making with the amount of research needed. But, they said, “The long and winding process is as important as the end result.” The Bukas Quiapo Tours tells the story of Quiapo and delves into themes such as multiculturalism, interfaith dialogue, and community camaraderie.
The Quiapo tours has twelve stops—all showcasing the history and culture in Quiapo and, as a plus, the tour takes you around these places in a hop-in and hop-off van! You don’t need to endure the Philippine heat with this provided transportation, so you can sit back and enjoy the rides and stops.
Bukas Quiapo Tours explores the Golden Mosque in Muslim Town. An important center of the Islamic faith, it also represents Quiapo’s appreciation for their Muslim brothers and sisters. It was built back in 1975 when the Muslims came during the time of the martial law, and until today, the mosque stands as a symbol of the Muslim heritage in Manila.
Also in Muslim Town is the June-Nairah’s Halal Restaurant, which offers Maranao dishes such as the biake (cassava and corn wrapped in leaves) and the broa, a bread similar to a sponge cake.
Another of the stops of the Bukas Quiapo Tours is the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, the only heritage house left open to the public. It showcases the history of important figures in Philippine history through an exhibit around the house. Learn about historical figures such as Gregoria de Jesus, Julio Nakpil, Francisco Nakpil, Juan F. Nakpil, among others. Named as “Tahanan ng mga Katipunero”, the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista is a historic house museum and a center of culture in Manila.
Of course, we can’t miss the famous San Sebastian Basilica—the only all-metal church in the Philippines. It was said that seven nationalities came together to influence the creation and restoration of this beautiful church, and has a history dating all the way back to 1621. This landmark of art in Manila is like experiencing a piece of Europe once you step inside.
Not only does the Bukas Quiapo Tours promote Quiapo as a place that lives to be a mixture of cultures, traditions, and religions, but it is also an effort to support the local community. The tours provide livelihood opportunities for their local guides and donations for the restoration of their heritage sites.
Some of the other stops in this day tour include the Plaza Miranda, Estero de San Miguel, Quinta Market, Vienna Bakery, and many more.
Experience Quiapo in a different light (and in an air conditioned van!) with Bukas Quiapo Tours. Slots are still available for their August tours. Price starts at 1,500Php. Register here.
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Bukas Quiapo Tours
Contact: (02) 708-5122