Hello friends,

We have ceased to update this blog effective  January 2012.

For events, updates and features, please log on to our (more active) Old Manila Walks  FACEBOOK Fan Page account

We are now also co-blogging at Ivan About Town.

Catch us there!


Ok folks here's a good one.

We will temporarily be leaving the dusty confines of Old Manila for a while and take whiff of fresh air, on to an exciting new Bonifacio Global City!

On April 24 and May 1, 2010; we will be conducting a special culinary walking tour along the Bonifacio Global City's chi-chi High Street, Serendra and the Fort Strip as part of B.G.C. Summer Passion Fest 2010. Yep, yep, we're taking a breather from our usual historic route (promise, no dark esteros or kalesa markings!) and go contemporary all the way! Let's check out the best of what this new foodie wonderland has to offer, sampling a smorgasbord of Hawaiian, Spanish, Italian, American and of course, local home grown

If you're fit, fun, creative, hungry and got nothing to do at 2:00 PM on those two dates, join us!

Let's eat and walk.

Just bring your appetite, wallet not needed.

What: Bonifacio Global City's Passion Fest 2010 Food Tour

When: April 24, 2010 @ 2:30-5:30 PM
May 01, 2010 @ 2:30-5:30 PM

Meet at: To Be Announced

This is a special free event. Registration begins at 1:00 PM, slots limited so come early.

Wishing everyone who has

walked by our site,our tours

and our life a prosperous, healthy and


Gotta check this out…


The National Museum of the Filipino People
Former Finance Building, Finance Route
Teodoro Valencia Circle, Rizal Park

When and What:
Thursday, Dec. 3, opening cocktails of War & Dissent: The U.S. in the Philippines, 1898-1915 at 5:30 pm. 5th floor, West Wing Gallery
Thursday, Dec. 3, premier of Shadows of War in Manila adapted by the Anino Theater Company at 7:15 pm
Thursday, Dec. 3, an exciting treasure trove on the theme War & Remembrance For Sale from 2:00 to 8:00 pm
and Friday, Dec. 5, first of a series of Saturday lectures by leading historians. 2nd floor, Ayala Theater

RSVP for the opening
Andi Herrera Benitez edibleincredibles@gmail.com or 0918 991 2634

Send Andi Benitez your name, email, and address so that we can send you an invitation to the opening and an update of events.

RSVP for the lectures
Charisma Gunay charissegunay@yahoo.com or 0906 361 7433
In order to send you the written paper invitation and keep in touch during the days right before December 3rd, could you be so kind and send us as soon as possible your postal address and your cell phone number please?

Thank you very much in advance.

War & Dissent was curated and authored by Dr. Randolph Delehanty and originally presented at the Officers’ Club Exhibition Hall, the Presidio Trust, San Francisco. Consultants for the exhibition in Manila were Mr. Ambeth Ocampo and Ms. Petty Benitez-Johannot.

Shadows of War was originally performed by the Bindlestiff Theater Company in San Francisco and the concept was adapted by the Anino Theater Company in Manila.

War & Remembrance For Sale was organized by the Bayanihan Collectors’ Club

The exhibition is presented by the Lopez of Balayan, Batangas Foundation in partnership with the National Museum of the Philippines, the Presidio Trust in San Francisco, the Department of Tourism, Lopez Memorial Museum, Malayan Insurance, Aquilles Lopez, Victor Lopez, Victoria Lopez, and a Friend of the Lopez of Balayan, Batangas Foundation. The lecture series is presented in partnership with Fundación Santiago.

For more Museum Foundation events and activities please visit our website at http://museumfoundationph.org/news/

Im back on the blogging groove thanks to the evangelical preachings of Awesome Anton and Satirical Spanky , I hope not to loose the momentum (again).

And besides, I have two years worth of material to catch up and blog about.

Let’s continue where where we stopped, so here goes…

Wohoo! Another addition to my five seconds of fame..now I have ten! ;op Thank you Mr. Villalon!

Pride of Place
Culture for tourists, not for Filipinos
By Augusto Villalon

Inquirer News Service

Editor’s Note: Published on page C1 of the June 6, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Baclayon Church, Bohol

MANY Filipinos and the local tourism industry remain boxed into the old “packaged tourism destination mode,” an approach that herds tourists into buses, takes them from airport to beach resort, provides a few hours’ visit to selected “tourism destinations” that are quick pops to cultural sites or monuments, leading to a dinner-show of “native” songs and dances.

Everything is packaged, from transportation, accommodation and Philippine culture.

The tourism “destination” approach crafted sites packaged with that “WOW” tourist appeal. The destinations follow a pattern. Places are decked out in fiesta atmosphere where open-air stages present cultural shows regularly and where a network of souvenir and food stalls packed along both sides of pedestrian streets compete for attention and sales.

Commercial and artificial, the destinations fail to express what is true in Filipino culture. Nor do they offer a realistic view of both Filipino history and way of life.

Nevertheless, the “tourist destination” image persists. Many Philippine locations try to concoct either their own versions or launch tourism events. A few have succeeded.

One of the most popular festivals in the country, the “Sinulog” of Cebu, based on a local religious ritual once little-known outside the city, was launched in the early 1980’s to boost the city’s tourism industry. Twenty years later, the festival has become such a success that people think it is a centuries-old tradition.

The province of Bohol, on the other hand, took stock of its natural and cultural assets-pristine rivers and beaches, whale and dolphin reserves, colonial towns, old churches with their treasures and religious traditions still intact, the internationally acclaimed Loboc Children’s Choir, local craft and cuisine, and other resources.

The government-religious-private sector cooperation preserved the provincial heritage, promoting the uniqueness of Bohol as the basis for an extremely successful community-based tourism program.

To achieve the increased numbers of foreign arrivals has always been the government target, claiming to promote Philippines as a cultural tourism destination. Still lacking are more programs to document and preserve vanishing traditions and built heritage, for instance, to show that cultural revival and preservation is for the Filipino and not for tourism dollars.

Activities in the cultural area could learn from the Bohol cultural experience whose primary aim was to preserve the unique heritage of the province for the benefit of local residents. Tourism grew as a secondary benefit of the successful cultural preservation program.

The cultural sector has made up for the lack of cultural tourism activities with a number of creative, local-level programs aimed at establishing awareness that preserving cultural heritage should be primarily for improving the quality of life of Filipino communities and not just for tourist consumption.

Historically correct tours

Organizations such as the Committee on Monuments and Sites of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and KaiVigan have commissioned historically correct tour guide scripts and walking tour maps for Intramuros and Vigan. They have also trained locals as guides.

The Bohol Arts and Cultural Heritage Council went a step beyond historical research. It actually mapped out a walking tour of Tagbilaran and environs.

The programs have paid off. Vigan and Bohol are popular destinations primarily visited by local tourists. Both have successful tourism programs based on the conservation of their heritage that are run by the local community.

An unexpected phenomenon in heritage-based cultural tourism grew out of a walking tour project established by the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS). As an activity for stimulating heritage awareness, the HCS organized weekly walks in Manila heritage districts. First conducted by professors or cultural experts, young guides eventually took over the activity.

The young guides enlivened historical fact with humor, communicated passion for urban built heritage and commitment to its preservation, made heritage alive with costumes, anecdotes, folk history and food that related to different historic quarters in the city.

Their lively walks gained instant popularity. Manilenos and expatriate residents stopped taking Manila for granted, rediscovered the wealth of texture in the city and became aware of the need for conservation.

The two leading Manila streetwalkers are Carlos Celdran and Ivan ManDy whose tours are booked solid. They have become cult heroes, darlings of local and international media.

The Time (Asia) Magazine featured Celdran recently: “If you take time to explore it, Manila pays rich dividends. One of the best ways to get to know the city is through the half-day walking tours given by the garrulous Carlos Celdran… [who] offers up rich narratives that are by turns gossipy (his account of Imelda Marcos’ rise and fall is hilarious) and compelling (the description of a bombed-out Manila, at the end of World War II, is unforgettable). They’re also filled with the kind of insight that only a native raconteur can provide.”

Tours led by Celdran and ManDy change perceptions and alter perspectives. “I can’t change the way Manila looks,” Celdran admits. “But I can change the way you look at Manila.”

Personalized tours are quickly becoming a new trend in Manila and other Philippine cities, giving the lesson that it is easier to change tourism perceptions from the ground up.

Local individuals, rather than the government, now provide increasingly viable models for community-based tourism programs, causing a shift in the cultural tourism paradigm.

In time, hopefully the new vision could evolve into a primary activity in the country’s tourism program, one that instills a missing pride of place in the Filipino and gives the tourist a personal contact with Filipino culture.

Heritage watch

Carlos Celdran will introduce you to his idiosyncratic, vibrant, and surprising Manila. E-mail celdrantours@hotmail.com or http://www.cendrantours.blogspot.com Ivan ManDy tours you around the Chinese Cemetery in La Loma and makes Tsinoy taste come alive with food tours through Binondo. Visit http://www.oldmanilawalks.blogspot.com/

E-mail afvillalon@hotmail.com

Chinatown pic
Eek! Me in my weekend element…

Pinoy Connection : Pound the Binondo pavement with the Chinatown kid
Posted 07:11am (Manila time) April 10, 2005
By Eric S. Caruncho, Inquirer News Service Editor’s
Note: Published on page Q6 of the April 10, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

FORGET it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

That, at least, is what a lot of people seem to say when someone suggests going down to Ongpin St. for some Chinese food other than Chowking, to Calle Soler for a quick screw (at the hardware store, dummy), to the Chinese drug store for some liver and kidney pills or some brain tonic (God knows we could all use some), or just to get out of the mind-numbing routine of office-mall-house. But that would mean—gulp!—actually going to Manila. “You’d be surprised,” says Binondo-born and bred Ivan Dy. “We all live in one big city, but we really live in our little villages. People from Alabang or Makati have told me that they’ve always wanted to visit Binondo, but they were scared to go.”

What’s not to fear? In many ways, Manila is still the middle-class suburbanite’s nightmare. All the reasons they moved to the suburbs in the first place are still here: the teeming hordes of the great unwashed, the traffic, the noise, the pollution, the saliva…

But so are a lot of other things that you won’t find in your average gated subdivision: history, culture, the throbbing pulse of modern urban life. Not to mention great food, fantastic bargains and a temporary escape from the cut-and-dried, predictable rut of office-mall-house.
Fortunately, for the timorous, there’s one way to take that first step: take a guided walking tour.

On weekdays, the 26-year-old Dy is the operations manager of a Manila-based trading company. But on weekends, he dons his pigtailed silk cap and becomes-ta-da!-the Chinatown Kid. “I got the idea when I joined walking tours abroad, in Singapore, Shanghai, Montreal and Washington, D.C.,” he says. “When you go on one of these tours, you get a different feeling because your guide is a native of that city and he’s proud of his city.”

Natural appreciation

When he got back from his travels, Dy thought similar tours would be ideal for helping people overcome their initial Manilaphobia. He had worked as a guide at the Bahay Tsinoy, a museum of Filipino-Chinese history and culture at the Intramuros. But nothing brought history to life better than actually pounding the pavements where it all happened. Having grown up in a neighborhood where people could still point out, say, the street where Rizal’s mother lived, or the house where Antonio Luna was born, Dy had a natural appreciation for history on the hoof, as it were.

Last year, he put up a website: http://www.oldmanilawalks.blogspot.com/, where interested parties can sign up for one or more walking tours. Putting the actual walks together was the easy part, because it covers what is essentially Dy’s own backyard. He put together three walks, with appropriately descriptive tags: “From Boondocks to Boomtown: A Chinatown Walk,” “Power, Palace and A Shot of Beer: Poking Around Old Millionaire’s Row (San Miguel)” and “Mounds, Magnates and Mausoleums: A Chinese Cemetery Walk.”

“I was born and lived in Binondo until I was eight years old, then my family moved to Sta. Cruz,” he says. “I was the fourth of six kids, and we lived in a typical Chinese compound where three families lived, so I grew up with grandparents, aunts and uncles and lots of cousins.”
From an early age, Dy was already drawn to the old. “While other kids were playing with Transformers, I was reading history books,” he recalls. “My dad encouraged me to read history and cultural stuff. Growing up in Binondo, a place which reeked of historical mementoes, my interest particularly zeroed in on the history of the Tsinoy community. Of course, the growth and evolution of the community had everything to do with Manila’s, our country and our region’s history so it was a natural inclination.”

Dy attended high school at St. Jude’s, which brought him to another historic district of old Manila, San Miguel. “In San Miguel, it would the antebellum mansions of San Rafael, Arlegui and Solano streets,” he says. “I always get a kick when I show them the Abbey of the Montserrat (a.k.a. San Beda Church). It never fails to get ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs.'”

Morbid interest

As for the Chinese cemetery, apart from the fact that some of his ancestors are buried there and the obvious morbid interest, Dy also finds it endlessly fascinating.
“What I particularly like about it is that it’s one big architectural history book,” he says of the numerous mausoleums and the styles in which they were built. “You’ll find bahay na bato, over-the-top Southern Chinese temples, Art Deco, Neoclassical. There’s even a turtle-shaped plot, and an ancient Chinese burial mound, which is very rarely found nowadays, even in China. The Chinese cemetery is also where you’ll find the oldest Chinese temple in the Philippines-the Chong Hock Tong temple.”

Dy says the Chinese cemetery is also uniquely Tsinoy: You won’t find anything remotely similar on the mainland. The custom of building mausoleums, he says, is a cultural accommodation combining Chinese ancestor worship with the Spanish-Filipino tradition of honoring the dead on Todos los Santos.

“If you go to Paris, you visit Pere Lachaise; if you go to Washington, you visit Arlington; why not visit the Chinese cemetery?” he asks. But by far the most popular walk is the Binondo walk, because apart from seeing the sights, you also get to taste the tastes, because it is partly a culinary tour. “One my aims is to introduce people to the wide variety of ‘Chinese-inspired’ food in Binondo, and their significance to us as part of our culture,” he says. “The eats that are part of my Binondo walk isn’t your typical Chinese fare. Some of these joints are places which a lot of people in Chinatown grew up with, like mami at Ma Mon Luk. Some are restaurants with a cause, such as the Cafe Mezzanine-a restaurant run by a Binondo Volunteer Firemen’s group. Still others are restaurants serving non-traditional fare, places which serve tea-cooked eggs, Hokkien-style fried rice (called kiampeng), Amoy-style hand-rolled lumpia, comida china or even Northern style dumplings.”

The Binondo tour has its share of exotica and chinoiserie. One can enter a sidestreet and walk up to the Kuan Kong Temple, a Taoist place of worship dedicated to the God of War and Literature, where visitors can burn incense or paper “money” offerings, or have their fortunes told by shaking a bamboo cylinder of divination sticks. Or visit La Resurreccion, where workers still hand-roll chocolate tableas the old-fashioned way. The wet market, with its tubs of sea cucumber and picked mustard greens also holds its own fascination, as do the newsstands and video shops selling Hongkong movies and Cantopop CDs. “In all my tours, I make it a point to show people not just beautiful, architecturally-interesting places,” says Dy. “I show them everything—even the not-so-pleasent ones. They may not be your ideal tourist sites, but these patches, like the esteros of Chinatown or the slums beside the Chinese Cemetery, are part and parcel of our city’s evolutionary fabric, and they do have their own stories to tell too.”
Speaking of evolution, Binondo itself is in flux as a new wave of immigrants comes in, drawn by the economic opportunities they see in Manila. Many of them speak Mandarin, rather than Hokkien, and are viewed with mixed feelings by the more established second- or third-generation Tsinoys. The “newcomers” come from a China that’s very different from the one that the “oldtimers” knew. Standing on some of the most expensive real estate in the country, Binondo is an interesting vantage point from which to view Manila’s emerging multicultural society.

This is all the stuff you’d miss if you stayed in the mall.

Says Dy: “I hope that those who join my walks leave with a lot of laughter, a satisfied palate, a better understanding of the Tsinoy community and an enriched appreciation of Manila-warts and all.”
For tour information, text 0917-3291622.