Walk This Way: Carlos Celdran’s Movie Tour of the City of Manila

Our tour guide also took us to Manila Hotel. Built in 1912, this hotel has appeared in a couple of Hollywood films, such as Year of Living Dangeously starring Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson – a 1982 drama film about a love affair set in Indonesia during the overthrow of President Sukarno.

It also appeared in the film Brokedown Palace (1999), which starred Kate Beckinsale and Claire Danes – a film that revolved around two American friends who got imprisoned in Thailand for drugs. Throw in a couple of Buddha statues and voila! Instantly, viewers were suddenly made to believe it was actually a hotel in Thailand. The movie was never shown in the Philippines, though, because actress Claire Danes called Manila a “ghastly” city, which made her persona non grata in the country.

 

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

 

Famous people have stayed in this hotel from the likes of Lea Salonga and Lana Turner to Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jr. The 1996 film Robo Warriors shot various city scenes in Manila including a high-end hotel dinner scene shot at the Manila Hotel’s Ilang-Ilang Cafe. Since Manila looked a lot like America in the old days, Hollywood films liked using our city as a location back then. Plus, everyone spoke English and there were a lot of tisoys, too.

Here’s another piece of trivia: we were the first ones to subcontract movies to the U.S.! But that changed with the 1987 Constitution under President Corazon Aquino, which stated that foreign ownership can only be 40% and 60% Filipino.

 

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

 

The Manila Post Office served as a background for a Richard Gomez and Regine Velasquez movie entitled Ikaw Lamang Hanggang Ngayon.

If you’re wondering how Manila ended up becoming portrayed as an appalling place, it is because of World War II when the U.S. battled the Japanese in an attempt to drive them out of the Philippines. According to Carlos Celdran, the Japanese had this belief that “If you can’t go down with dignity, everybody goes with you”. So, since the US didn’t give the Japanese the chance to leave with dignity, they later murdered thousands of Filipinos, resulting in the US bombing us to stop the Japanese. That’s how we abandoned the walled city of Manila and traded it for the walled cities of Makati (Forbes Park) and Pasig (Valle Verde).

Also, did you guys know that Intramuros back then had 7 churches? The bombing also destroyed them, though. Kill the churches, kill the soul – that’s how Manila became known as the “Kuko ng Liwanag”. One particular Hollywood movie that showed the ruins of Manila after the war was Victory Joe (1946). Brillante Mendoza’s films will also show you the poverty forms of Manila.

 

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

 

This is the Jones Bridge, which was featured in the blockbuster action Hollywood movie, The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner. The famous motorcycle chase was shot here.

 

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

 

You know what I found out? Jeremy Renner actually did most of his motorcycle stunts in the movie himself because he’s a really good motorcycle driver. And thanks to The Bourne Legacy, the Philippines is back on the map! We’re now being considered by Hollywood production companies as a movie location once again. In fact, the producers of Muhammad Ali’s biopic are looking at the Philippines as one of their locations!

The last stop of the tour was at Escolta. This place is what Tomas Morato, Quezon City is now – all of the production houses were located in Escolta before!

 

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Capitol, another movie house that bit the dust with the changing of times

 

There was actually a move to revive Escolta recently: SelfiEscolta. (Read about it here: SelfiEscolta: Reviving the Queen of Manila Streets)

We also checked out a museum inside the Calvo Building in Escolta where you can see print ads of old Philippine films, music sheets and even old bottles of beer and soda.

 

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Anyone care to buy a Ford? Only Php800!

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

Carlos Celdran Movie Tour

 

Did you also know that in the olden days, watching movies was a very social event? This meant that you had to sit inside a noisy and chaotic theater! Vendors were everywhere while the movie was ongoing, people talked out loud, and no one would shush you. I personally can’t imagine sitting through a movie like that! I probably wouldn’t understand what I was watching. Thank goodness for the American concept of quiet cinema.

I had a lot of fun learning about the city of Manila through films. It was worth getting up early in the morning on a Saturday! When in Manila, discover more about the famous city through films with Carlos Celdran’s walking tours.

 

 

Walk This Way: A Movie Tour of the City of Manila