Fort Santiago Voyage: A Trip to the Past
It’s my wanderlust in Manila that keeps me in awe every time I get to roam the streets of it. I can’t help but marvel and be amazed by the scenery, no matter how heavy the traffic is or how crowded it gets. I think it mirrors our Filipino-ness, our culture and all that. It makes me reflect on our great history way back in the 1800s, because every building, every corner, is a reminder of what used to be the old Manila. The foundation, the place where everything had started.
I’m so in love with Manila (flaws and all) that I promised myself that I’ll go to every place my feet will drag me. So one day I packed my stuff in my bag and headed to one of the historic places of this city, Fort Santiago.
As I entered the gates, excitement overcame me. I paid the P50 entrance fee and started my afternoon walk at the park.
I went straight inside Intramuros, the great wall that served as a defense fortress built by Spaniard Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. You will be greeted by a monument of national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, which stands erect right in the middle of the grassy grounds of Plaza de Armas.
To the plaza’s left is the Dambana ni Rizal, or the Rizal Shrine, a mini-museum containing artifacts and relics significant to Rizal’s life, from the place where he was sentenced, the room where he stayed, and even the stamps and money he was put into.
The thing that interested me most was Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios, which he had written at the exact same location. Also there are exhibits which feature the notable moments leading to his execution.
The other side of this park is the golden steps of Rizal embedded in honor of the hero’s last minutes. This freedom trail where he passed on his way to Bagumbayan from his cell in Fort Santiago memorializes his brave path to martyrdom and symbolizes the birth of the Filipino nation. The steps shone under the sunlight, just like Rizal’s love for this country and fellowmen.
These Spanish military barracks has been turned into a seldom-used open-air theater. Rizal spent his last night in a cellblock at one end of these barracks.
The cool air around the vicinity made this trip a relaxed yet fun-filled one, filling myself with this site’s rich history plus admiring such beauty from nature’s past, grown into what we see it as today.
If your feet are tired with all the strolling, there is a picnic area where you can enjoy the company of those shady trees and relax for the rest of your visit. Also, if you want to experience the old-style way of transportation, there are kalesas available for tourists to ride on.
So there! I hope that this tour will encourage you to take the jeepney and head on to this wonderful park. I’m sure that a history-buff or not, anyone’s nationalism will be perked up deep inside. And while summer’s still rolling, take advantage and see the astounding splendor of Fort Santiago.
Rizal Shrine Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila
Facebook: Intramuros Administration