October 17, 1961 – Manila

Manila Hotel, Manila, Philippines – Raining and Clear

      Today I woke up feeling better than I had for several days and I was excited to explore Manila.  After dressing Edith and I joined the majority of our tour group in the dining room for breakfast. 

      A few members of the tour were missing because it seemed they had gotten bronchitis too.  I hoped that they would feel better soon and be able to get the same good medical care like I had in Hong Kong.  Once I was seated and had a chance to look at the menu I discovered I even had an appetite again so I ordered a nice breakfast of oatmeal, toast and a bowl of fruit.  After eating Edith and I joined the rest of our tour group in the lobby to meet our guide for the Philippines, Maria. 

      Our first stop was the Manila Cathedral which was an imposing structure and had an extensive history.  Over the centuries it had been built and destroyed many times.  The first time it had been built was 1581 using Nipa palm and bamboo of all things.  Now it was on its sixth incarnation.

      Next we went to the historic Fort Santiago which was a defense fortress built for a Spanish conquistador.  Maria told us that during World War II while the fort was occupied by the Japanese it had received a lot of damage due to bombing by the Americans.  I had trouble though detecting what or where it had had to be repaired.  We were also taken to see the Manila Memorial to the Unknown Soldier where all the white crosses were made of marble from Spain. 

Manila Memorial to Unknown Soldier

      When we were taken to the University of Santo Tomas I had no idea what we were going to see there.  It turned out it had been used as a Japanese concentration camp during World War II and was the site of some of the most brutal war crimes against Americans.  During the war civilians along with POW’s had been kept at the university and I thought it was quite horrible. I couldn’t imagine a distinguished academic facility being converted into a place where atrocities were committed.  I was glad that the purpose had gone back to what it was originally intended for.

Manila Prison Ruins

Another View of Manila Prison

      Our next stop was the Malacanan Palace which was the official residence of the Philippine President.  Our tour spent some time touring the palace and going through rooms open to the public like the Heroes Hall.  Some of the chandeliers we saw hanging in the building were so striking I couldn’t even guess how much they were worth.  I was glad that before we left the palace we had a chance to walk around the beautiful grounds. 

Malacanan Palace in Manila Phillapines

Malacanan Palace Interior

Malacanan Interior Chandelier

Malacanan Interior Chandelier Close Up

      After leaving the palace we traveled to see the extinct volcano of Taal Lake but along the way we stopped at Las Pinas to see their famous Bamboo Organ.  Marie, our guide, told us it had been built in 1889 and that we would enjoy seeing it and hearing it.  After having a chance to examine the organ we took a seat to listen to the organist play Ave Maria.  It was heavenly.  I really enjoyed having the time to sit there, close my eyes and daydream.  I was sorry to leave Las Pinas until I found out our next stop was to eat.

      Our lunch stop at Tagaytay Ridge turned out to be surprisingly good because the food was delicious.  While we ate there was a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding countryside.  Marie told us that Lake Taal Marie had been created in 1911by a volcanic eruption and the volcano could be seen on an island called Volcano Island in the middle of the lake.  To complicate things Volcano Island had a crater lake that was the world’s largest lake on an island in a lake.

Taal Lake Extinct Volcano

Lunch Stop at Tagatay Ridge

      On our return trip back to the hotel we had a chance to see more of the countryside and I found the differences in each country we visited very interesting.  The Philippines were very different than what we’d seen in Japan, Formosa and China but beautiful in its own way.  Some of the things we’d seen today though had made me sad. 

Phillipine Countryside Tour

      Upon our return to our hotel the clerk gave me a letter from Ramona so I sat down in the lobby to read it.  When I went to find Edith I found her at an exhibition of cock fights going on for tourists that our group had joined.  I watched the battle between the birds for awhile and took a few pictures but couldn’t bring myself to stay very long because I thought it was a very cruel sport.  I was glad when Marie came to collect us so we could go to a local native market place.  The market place had many stalls that had interesting things for sell.  I found several purses, a dress and some post cards to buy so I was quite pleased with myself. 

Cock Fight at Hotel Manila

Another View of Cock Fight at Hotel Manila

      On the bus trip back to the hotel Edith and I discussed how shaggy we felt and decided to see if there was a beauty salon near the hotel that we could visit.  Both of us were pleased when the clerk at the front desk was so cooperative and helped us get someone right away.

      The beautician, as it turned out, spoke some English so we were able to chat while she did my hair.  I enjoyed talking to Anna as she did my hair and she was full of questions about the United States. When she found out I lived near Los Angeles she was sure I knew many movie stars and was disappointed when I had to tell her I didn’t.  I was surprised when I went to pay her to find it only cost me $2.50 American so I left her a nice tip.  I had learned enough during our conversation to know she was very poor despite having a good business from tourists at the hotel. 

      Edith and I felt much better after getting our hair done and we joined the rest of our tour group for dinner.  Most of us tried Philippine dishes and they were very good.  I tried one dish that was bread with meat and vegetables stuffed inside it called an empanada and also some stir fried noodles.  Both were wonderful and very filling.

      The weather was nice after dinner and there were several little shops nearby so Edith and I decided to walk around, do a little shopping and enjoy the scenery.  Our evening in Manila turned out to be a very nice one.  By the time we returned to our room at the hotel I was tired so I took a long hot bath and went to bed. 

Market Place in Manila

Another View of the Market Place in Manila

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