Rockwell-Makati

Metro Manila While on a night ride in and around the Metropolis, I was utterly awed by the bright lights along my route. The lighted trees of Plaza Roma, in front Manila Cathedral, Intramuros Manila; the beautifully designed Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City; the lovely and picturesque skyline of Rockwell in Makati City; and the lively streets of Policarpio in Mandaluyong. Aaaaah! Never the bright lights of the Holidays has failed me. Christmas is already here! Images are taken using Nikon J1

Aduana

Not everybody knows that the very first stamp in Asia was issued in the Philippines on February 1, 1854. Some carries a genuine error in printing the word “corros” rather than “correos”, which are valued by avid stamp collectors due to its rarity.

I assume, very rare also knows that the world’s first stamp that featured basketball was also issued in our country?

Needless to say, our rich postal history follows the vibrant history of our country. Thanks to Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club for exposing me to all these through their free Postal Heritage Walking Tour.

The Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club

The Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club was formed in 1994 and now regarded as one of the country’s premier societies for beginners and seasoned stamp collectors. Amid the digital world of communication, they are actively  promoting stamp collecting in the country through various projects and awareness campaigns such as exhibits, seminars and walking tours.

Filipinas Stamp Collectors' Club organizes a free walking tour of Manila every third Sunday of the month.

The Postal Heritage Walking Tour is a monthly tour they organize for free, no strings attached. Held every 3rd Sunday of the month, this free guided tour caters to students, cultural hoppers, philatelist and people from all walks of life. It is fully supported and endorsed by the Intramuros Administration, Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) and the City of Manila.

It was Lawrence Chan, the tour guide, who invited me to join the walking tour. After some email exchanges, I confirmed my slot for a different tour of the city.

The Walking Tour

We gathered at Liwasang Bonifacio or popularly known as Plaza Lawton. It was originally named Plaza Arroceros, covering the current Manila City Hall to the Manila Central Post Office Building during the Spanish era, but it shrunk now to the area in front of the Post Office Building.

Manila Metropolitan Theater

Our tour started at one of Manila’s famous landmarks just across Plaza Lawton – The Metropolitan Theatre or the MET. Tagged as the “grand dame” of Manila’s theaters, the MET was designed by one of the great Filipino architects, Juan Arellano, the same man who designed Manila Central Post Office building and Jones Bridge.

We entered inside and had a glimpse of its vibrant past that still echoes on its walls, rooms, corners and hallways. It was my first time to enter the MET and I was mesmerized by its beauty but saddened by its present condition.

The majestic interior of the MET

Our next stop was another Manila’s landmark – The Manila Central Post Office Building, which serves as the head office of PhilPost. Built in 1926, the neoclassical structure stands proud at the mouth of Pasig River. It was severely damaged during World War II but rebuilt in 1946 with its original design. Also located in its compound is the Postal Museum and Library.

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Couchsurfers from different part of the Philippines and the world converged at the Oblation monument in front of Quezon Hall or the UP Administration Building of Diliman on the last day of May this year for their last hurray for the summer of 2009, the first ever Manila Summer Scramble.

Couch Surfers at Quezon Hall

Photo by Greg Galang

Manila Summer Scramble is an adventure race within the city’s famous landmarks and hidden gems. It is organized by Couch Surfing (CS) – Philippines and inspired by the popular TV show The Amazing Race.

The Teams

Nine teams of randomly grouped couch surfers were formed to compete in the race. Participants came from various places in the Greater Manila Area to as far as Iloilo in central Philippines and even Germany, China, France, Hawaii and New York, USA.

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Intramuros

Intramuros, Manila’s Walled City is set to undergo a renewed restoration plan with Intramuros Administration’s new team headed by Anna Maria Harper.

The plan is to clean-up and preserve the historic district, which includes structural repairs, removing squatters and other eye sores, and making it more secure. All these, in order to attract more tourists and to bring back the recognition and the glory it deserve.

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