Tour Manila's Intramuros on an 'Electric Chariot'

Tha Good Life - By John Paul 'JP' Tanchanco

Posted at Jan 25 2013 05:37 PM | Updated as of Jan 26 2013 03:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Tourists and locals have been marching to Intramuros to tour its historical streets using an "Electric Chariot."

The White Knight team led by tour guide Josh Makinano welcomed me and my guests to experience the fun-filled tour that everyone has been raving about.

Join me and relive the historical landmarks in the Philippines' Walled City.

JP Tanchanco, Louie Marco from San Franciso, Mari Borao from Madrid, Tour Guide Josh Makinano, Sonny Tanchanco, John Gaddi, Brian Tanchanco. Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

Intramuros is known as the great Walled City of the Philippines. It is the most significant landmark of Old Manila that was the seat of the Spanish colonial government.

Intramuros film 1965 directed by National Artist for film Lamberto Avellana from the words of National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin

According to Makinano, there's booming interest in Intramuros from foreign tourists. In fact, he said that 80% of their guests are tourists mostly from Australia , America, United Kingdom and Russia. He also noted that there are also a lot of Korean tour groups and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been patronizing their historical Intramuros tour.

Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

"It's great to hear that global media such as NY Times, Conde Nast and CNN have been raving about the Philippines as one of the top tourist destinations to go to... We've been hearing high praises from tourists who take our tour," said Makinano.

The electric chariot

We started with a tutorial session on how to use the electric chariot or the e-chariot, an eco-friendly, electric-powered vehicle that has been made popular by the brand Segway.

The innovative vehicle is easy to use because it uses one's own weight to control the acceleration, steering and speed.

Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

"We came up with this electric chariot service a year ago and immediately it became very popular... we had to purchase more e-chariots to meet the boom in demand," explained Makinano.

The tour

The tour started at Plaza San Luis, the compound where White Knight Tours is located.

"This place was created for the principalia families and elites during the Spanish occupation. It's composed of 9 stone houses. You'll find the Casa Manila Museum here," said Makinano.

Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

Then we headed to the oldest stone church in the Philippines, San Agustin. "San Agustin was founded on 1571. It was bombed in 1574 due to the Limahong attack. It was also named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994," added Makinano.

We passed by the cobblestone streets of Intramuros and entered the historical Real street.

Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

We enjoyed our stroll around the area and arrived at the old location of the Ateneo. The area currently hosts the Department of Tourism's Clam Shell Pavilion.

"This was the location of Ateneo... Our national hero Rizal studied here... The school burnt down in 1932 due to fire," explained Makinano.

Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

We enjoyed the stroll around the hilly streets and reached the famous walls of Intramuros. "The first wall was made by the Spanish government as a defensive architecture using bamboo and wood... It was later updated using egg white sugarcane and volcanic rocks that took 200 years to finish," said Makinano.

Then we rode our chariots towards Puerta de Santa Lucia, one of the gates of Intramuros. I enjoyed the old architecture of the stone bridge built in 1603.

A few steps away is the Galeria de Los Presedentes de la Republica Filipina. It was nice to see that we have a garden honoring all the Presidents of the Philippines. I think authorities can jazz up the place to make it more picturesque for tourists.

Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

I found the bland green color of the Presidential Icons very unimaginative. The Presidential icons would look so much better in gold leaf finish. A revamp of the place should be considered to inspire more tourists to take photographs of the area.

A few blocks away is the PC Barracks, the training ground for the Philippine Constabulary, the old police force of the Philippines established in 1901.

Then we headed to the Beaterio de la compania de Jesus. The historical Jesuit structure established in 1684 is now a light and sound museum.

A few meters away from the beaterio was the Baluarte de San Diego Gardens. "This place was created in 1762 during the British occupation. The venue is now used for special events and weddings," explained Makinano.

The tour ended in Muralla Street. We strolled around the street where one of first defense walls during British-Spanish War and Japanese-American War is located.

The place is filled with historical value. It was a perfect place to end the tour as we enjoyed seeing the antique Japanese Canon that expresses the glorious memories of the Walled City.

Photo courtesy of Brian Tanchanco

So for those of you looking for a day of adventure in Old Manila, visit Intramuros and try White Knight Tours' E-chariot. Contact them through (02) 526-6539 or e-mail [email protected]

Thanks to Intramuros Administration; contact them through (02) 527-3096.

John Paul C.Tanchanco is a travel, food, party, film and music aficionado. He is also an economist, businessman, MYX/Awit award-winning media producer and Kala guitarist.

"Tha Good Life" is a special feature for about pop culture, travel, music, entertainment, business, food, clubbing, shopping and events.

For questions, features and comments, e-mail him at [email protected] or [email protected]