Getting kids introduced to their heritage at an early age cultivates their love for country. It also widens their imagination, says Ronnie Mirabuena, head of the Audience Development Division of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Arts Education Department.
“Exposing them to various artistic activities can nurture creative minds. The arts develop skills that empower left brain processes like problem-solving, critical thinking. Creativity and imagination will allow the children to nurture their uniqueness.”
One of the best places to see the country's culture and history is exploring the "Walled City," Intramuros, (you can do it on foot). Here's a possible itinerary.
Visit the churches
The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral) is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila. Cabildo corner Beaterio street. Open: 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily
The San Agustin Church of the Augustinian Order is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it has its own museum. General Luna street. Open (museum): 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
9:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Drop by one of the Walled City's museums.
Casa Manila was built to depict a typical Spanish colonial house. Plaza San Luis Complex, General Luna street. Open: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
Bahay Tsinoy is an exhibit of our Filipino-Chinese heritage. 32 Anda St. cor. Cabildo Street (near Manila Cathedral). Open: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
NCCA Gallery houses different exhibits each month featuring local artists. 633 Gen Luna Street (near the San Agustin Church). Open: Tuesday-Sunday
Bagumbayan Lights and Sounds Museum narrates the story of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Sta. Lucia corner Victoria Street. Open: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
You can also take a stroll within the walls of important structures and sites like Fort Santiago, Rizal Shrine, Baluarte de San Diego, and other preserved ruins. Intramuros is also home to the oldest educational institution Colegio de San Juan de Letran, as well as other colleges and universities built through the years.
Some museums are free of charge, while others have entrance fees ranging from P60-P200.
Have priest-approved Filipino cuisine for lunch.
The Catholic Bishops of the Philippines runs Ristorante Delle Mitre, which serves Filipino comfort food, and we're not talking monk food. They have menu items like Father John Christian Young’s Sinigang na Crispy Pata, Monsignor Dennis Villarojo’s Seafood Pasta with Marinara Sauce, and silvanas that are said to be Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle's favorite. CBCP Bldg, 470 Gen. Luna Sreet (near San Agustin Church). Open: 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Take your time at the National Museum of the Philippines
The National Museum is home to important works of art and artifacts, curated for public display. It operates the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of the Filipino People, Planetarium, and some regional museums. The museum carries highly valued art of national artists, archaeological artifacts dated as early as 450,000 BC, cultural heritage artifacts that include textile, weapons, agricultural tools, and musical instruments, as well as animal, geological, and botanical artifacts. The National Museum is home to the monumental work of Juan Luna, the Spoliarium. Padre Burgos Drive. Open: 10:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
See the sun set at Rizal Park
A simple stroll in the park takes you through history. The landmark monument of the Philippines, that of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, and his place of execution is found here. Busts and monuments of other Filipino heroes and martyrs like Lapu-Lapu and the GomBurZa can be found here. Within the park is a big relief map of the Philippines, the biggest flagpole, the Kilometer Zero marker (the point of origin of all distance measurements), a musical dancing fountain, a Japanese Garden, and an open-air auditorium where musical and dance concerts are staged on weekend evenings for free. Stroll the area with a calesa ride, which goes around the park. Roxas Boulevard. Open every day.
There is pay-parking lot beside Fort Santiago and within the CBCO complex along General Luna Street. If you're taking public transportation, get off at Manila City Hall. Walk through the underpass towards Intramuros. You can also alight at the Central station of LRT 1.
Mary Louise Alcantara is a soprano, music educator, and writer. She is currently the program director of the National Music Competitions for Young Artists. She is married to a writer/Aikido teacher and mother to a 6-year-old homeschooled baby ballerina. She blogs at www.touringkitty.com.