I learnt 5 things about walking to Fort Santiago. I had a morning of free time. I’d worked late the night before and knew I’d be catching up on other work in the afternoon. Even though it’s not the wet season or summer it’s still quite warm and it becomes a little too hot to walk around in the sun after about 9.30 am.
Homelessness is a significant problem for Manila. People sleep on the concrete barrier of the Baywalk. I saw some families sleeping rough using cardboard and small umbrellas (parasols) to protect their bodies as much as possible from the hardness of the concrete and the sun respectively.
Manila is a very densely populated city and quite a lot of the population own and use motor cars and motorcycles. There are also a lot of rubbish fires along the side of roads adding to the smokiness of the sky.
Walking along the Baywalk you cannot help but notice the odour of raw sewage. I’m assuming it’s sewage, it’s the only thing I can think of that smells like that. I was aghast when I saw children bathing in the bay. I may be wrong but I assume the pollution extends into the water.
A rich and proud heritage
Before I flew here I really wasn’t aware of the rich and proud heritage on the Philippines. I’ve met lots of people from this country and I vaguely remember in school learning that the Philippines had been visited and explored by the Spanish. It wasn’t until I had recently watched a documentary on World War II that I had a better appreciation of the role of United States military forces here and the nature of the Japanese occupation. I also didn’t know until reading some of the plaques around Fort Santiago that the British also had a period of occupation in the Philippines.
Along the roads there are statues of past presidents and important figures including people prominent in the arts.
Everyone is friendly
Despite the hustle and bustle, the amazing traffic, the constant sound of horns tooting and the taking of one’s life in your own hands when crossing roads, everyone is very friendly and helpful. Regular readers may know I’m not much of a navigator so even though I cannot speak the local language nor can I speak Chinese, most of the locals are only too happy to speak in English to help out a stranger. If you read the guidance from smart traveller (and you should whenever you travel overseas) you will learn that the Philippines has significant theft, pickpocketing and other problems. While I have been approached by children for money, I’ve not felt unsafe walking around the streets.
So they were the 5 things about walking to Fort Santiago. Here are some photographs.
I started with cake and ended with miso ramen!
Have you visited Manila? What did you learn?