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Our tour guide Richard was excellent. He was very knowledgeable about Manila and the history of the Philippines. First stop was the American Cemetery. It is beautiful and serene. It's humbling to see the markers and know how great the sacrifice of Americans and Filipinos was during the Second World War. The drive to the American Cemetary through the Forbes Park area isn't that spectacular. The houses are walled and gated so there's not much to see. Next stop was Rizal Park. It's quite a place. It's quite large and there wasn't enough time to walk the entire perimeter. You do get to see the monument to Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero. The park is well maintained. It was raining at this point so the park wasn't very lively but that's ok. Then we went off to Fort Santiago and Intramuros. There was some renovations works ongoing so parts of the park were closed down. What was open is a nice step back in history. I'm sure one the renovation works are complete, the area will be exceptional. You can get some good views of the Pasig river and bordering cities from the old fort walls. There are several restored buildings where you can see a movie on Filipino history. Last stop is the Church of San Agustin. It's an impressive piece of architecture and certainly worth a tour around. The reason I didn't give the tour a five, even though our guide almost warranted a five himself, was the renovations works, the relative lameness of Forbes Park and the rain.
The only dampener on this was the traffic around US embassy due to a protest march. Other than this the US Cemetery was a humbling experience. The views to the city here are phenomenal. Intramuros I felt we needed alot longer. I suggest taking a full day tour to really explore this section or do it on your own as there was so much to see. Great photography opportunities. Intramuros church is a great experience.
Interesting tour - learned a lot about the history of Makati. Would like to suggest the tour guide accompany the tour participants into the Intramuros and Fort Santiago to share stories. Otherwise great tour.
Very informative of the history of Manila. Very interesting stories. Would have loved it if we were accompanied inside Intramuros to actually learn more of the stories within the city. There were also some hassle when we were in Intramuros as some roads were blocked due to some movie making. Other than that, it was great fun!!
Renae P Australia
This tour was very interesting and informative. The tranquility of the American War Memorial to the old grounds of Intramuros. The church visits were made more interesting by the impending Papal visit which is only two days away.
We both thought that our time would have been much better spent had we skipped the Makati aspects because the traffic congestion was so great that the only worthwhile feature the War Cemetery wasn't worth the hour it took to get there and the hour it took to get to Intramuros. Our guide was knowledgeable but we felt that she was hurrying us along when we visited the Jose Rizal Museum. As Intramuros was so close to the dock, we would have been perfectly satisfied to have spent all the four hours seeing the Intramuros sights instead. The car was delightful.
This tour was good mainly because of our tour guide Leny. On our way to Tagaytay, she gave a lot of information about history in the Philippines. She shared some information about local, significant individuals important to the Philippino history. We stopped at a fruit stand along the way and our guide purchased some "mini" bananas for us to sample.
When we arrived on the hills over the Taal lake, the air was gloomy. We hurried up and took some pictures of the volcano and the lake. Shortly afterwards, the rain started and the fog and moisture obscured the Taal lake and the volcano of the same name from our view. Fortunately, we had taken a few pictures before the rain started. I wish we were able to actually go to the volcano itself to see the middle crater lake too as we could not see it from our vantage point.
Lunch was excellent with enough food for everybody. There was a variety of local items on the menu but I particularly enjoyed the fish served called white fish locally.
On the return trip, we stopped at a war memorial at the American cemetery. It was sobering to see a lot of marked graves for fallen World War II soldiers. After that we stopped at a shop in Makati with local artisans wares on display and for sale. There were a lot of woodworks, souvenirs, and even some articles of clothing for sale.
Then we stopped at Fort Bonifacio to learn more about the history of Manila Intramuros. We watched a DVD relating the history of the walls and walked around to see the wall itself and the dungeon built by the Spanish. During that trek, our guide gave us a lot of anecdotes and information concerning the history of Manila.
The tour ended with our drop off at our respective hotels and cruise ship.
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