learning Fort Santiago

To travel to a certain place became a habit to me and my girlfriend Nang every time we see on weekend. Perhaps, we got tired of malling Henry Sy’s commercial spaces and our eyes desire for new scenery. Our typical field trip itinerary usually include (1) walking a mile or two in a historical or just a cool place (this is our own version of working out when it's too difficult to wake up on early morning to jog in Baywalk or UP) and (2) looking for a food house that offers exotic, delicious and affordable meals.

Not minding the afternoon heat wave, we sailed to Fort Santiago (Fuerza de Santiago) last Sunday. No we were not went there riding a galleon ship but by PUJ “PIER” jeep we found in Avenida. I think Paolo Bediones show influenced my girlfriend to text me to visit the place and without thinking I said yes to her.

If I not mistaken I last descended on the old fortress located at the tip of the walled city of Intramuros when I was still in high school. Fort Santiago was a must place because its historical, therefore it’s educational.

Upon arrival and after paying P40.00 entrance fee (yes, you get a ticket and a free brochure of the place), I noticed and felt, looking at the Plaza Moriones that FS did not change so much. Same old, same old. Maybe because it's a historical place and it's necessary to preserve things as it is. But I felt something was lacking in the place and as I write this I still couldn’t figure it out. Maybe preservation of FS is not enough.

I did not feel it then but the gate of the citadel was an amazing and a wow site. It bears the wooden curved image of St. James and with a three pinnacle over the gate it made the place more sacred as if you are entering the ruins of a Roman Basilica. I thought then that the body of water before the Fort Santiago gate was a tributary of Pasig River but it’s actually a moat. Providing a moat on the entrance of your lot is an architectural feature alive during medieval period in Europe like in castles. Moat is the first line of defense against outside onslaught. If that body of water is a moat the bridge over it perhaps was a drawbridge? Hmmm.

In my first visit there, I remember going down to dungeon above Casa de Castellano where the residence of the Fort Commander once stand. Now for some reason, the gate to the dungeon has been padlocked.

I found Rizal Shrine an interesting place to visit. It houses the Dr. Jose Rizal century old attire, medical tools and other Rizal memorabilia that you'd find amaze to have a look at. Another appealing in the place was our national hero’s famous quotes translated in many languages known to Rizal engraved on metal sheets erected like columns.

There is this solace chamber in the Shrine also called "pook ng pagninilay" that will give you a peek from afar of a sitting life size statue of Rizal perhaps on a contemplating mood on what’s to write next. From a distant you feel our hero is really alive and I gave me a creepy feeling that he looks at you and trying to convey a message. Boo!!!!

The two story building we called Rizal Shrine “stands on the site of a brick barrack where Rizal was imprisoned” before he was shot in Bagumbayan in 1896.

With the presence of guardia civil bronze sculpted statues scattered in the Falsabraga de Media Naranja made the view of Pasig River meeting Manila Bay a breathtaking site. You can close your eyes and imagine the galleon ships once docked on this fort and the festivity of 16th to 20th international trading.

I learned a lot from this trip. Sometimes learning goes beyond reading book. A walk “through the walls” is an effective tool to gain knowledge of our past.

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