If you’re a foreigner or balikbayan, then I get why you would join Carlos Celdran’s “If These Walls Could Talk” tour. TIME has mentioned a few good reasons, so did the Asian Wall Street Journal. Plus you’re probably a little sentimental about your roots. But if like me, you live and breathe the smog of Manila more often than you’d like, you might be more skeptical about forking over Php1,100 for a tour of Intramuros, that “Walled City” that could not even hold off vandals, vendors, jeepney barkers, and a growing number of informal settlers. The not-so-friendly fee stings a little more when, again, like me, you actually already did a solo walking tour of Intramuros not too long ago (and in fact, even wrote about it).
So why would you, a Pinoy familiar familiar with Manila, spend Php1,100 and three hours with Carlos Celdran? Well, after the tour, I got 10 very good
- You think Manila has more filth than history. Surprisingly, that is not true.
- You tell people that Rizal Park is the original Kilometer Zero. Again, not true.
- You have never heard anyone call Catholic priests “Talibans” or compare the Pope with Osama bin Laden. It’s an event, especially if the one doing the blaspheming is the great, great grandson of a Spanish friar.
- You did not know that the Philippines was considered merely a province of Mexico, a major colony, and that long before the revolution, Spain actually did not want us anymore, except the friars never told anybody that.
- You want to know what you have in common with the French.
- You would like to hear the most theatrical, most compelling version of what really happened in Manila in World War II.
- You need to laugh – hard (although the WW II accounts might also make you cry). Oh and the jokes? Not for idiots.
- You never really paid attention in history class and you need urgent answers now for your friends abroad who keep bugging you about what’s interesting to do in Manila.
- You appreciate people who make a living out of showing you what’s good about your heritage.
- You believe there is more to the Philippines than what you constantly read on the news, and you need to restore some pride in yourself as a Filipino.
For schedules of Celdran’s tours, go here.