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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Meaningful Travel's Poblacion Heritage, Arts and Food Tour (Day Walking Tour)

A few years back, I worked in a law firm located in Poblacion, Makati City so I assumed that I am quite acquainted with the place.   I'm so glad I joined Meaningful Travel's  Poblacion Heritage, Arts and Food Tour because I got to discover that there's so much of Poblacion that I failed to get to know.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral (5539 D.M. Rivera, Makati, Metro Manila)
The Poblacion Tour began at historical site which many fail to notice - the official marker (The Landing of Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies, Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Naming of Makati).  I never thought that there was such an interesting memoir in a public park like the Plaza Casa Hacienda Park.

It was a continuous walking tour so we then proceeded to the Pasig River.  While many would find it a hopeless case, I still observe it whenever I can.  It came to my attention when I had an OJT that had to ride it everyday in order to go home.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
I always stop and appreciate churches whenever I can so Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is not new for me.  What I didn't know was that it was one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.  It was founded in 1620.  It was only reconstructed 2 times since: 1.) 1849 - after it was destroyed during the British occupation in 1762 and 2.) January 30, 2015.

Plaza Cristo del Rey
Just infront of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is Plaza Cristo del Rey which was formerly San Pedro Makati Cemetary.  The conversion of cemetaries for the dead into plazas for the living is a concept adopted all over the world.

poblacion market
Poblacion Market (J. D. Villena St. Makati, Metro Manila)

What I like about Meaningful Travel's tours is the immersion part.  Because it's a walking tour, you don't skip any detail.  You really get the feel of the area.  Poblacion Market has a lot of tailors, canteens and fresh food vendors. 

house of laurel
House of Laurel (Address: 6013 Manalac, Makati, Metro Manila)

Just a few steps away is the House of Laurel.

house of laurel
Here's you can book an appointment with Rajo Laurel, one of the top Filipino fashion designer for a custom clothing or you can also purchase their Ready-to-wear (RTW) collections.  We were shown its seasonal album.

holy carabao
Holy Carabao (6241 R. Palma, St, Makati, Metro Manila)
We passed by this cute shed type store selling organic goods called Holy Carabao.

glorious dias
Glorious Dias (Pineapple Lab, 6053 R Palma, Makati, Metro Manila)
Then, we checked out Glorious Dias selling antique barongs for as low as 500 php!  It's quite interesting that it only started out as a popout concept.

glorious dias
I just love the unique vibe of the place.

pineapple labs
Just right beside it is Pineapple Labs. During our visit, it had a Pride Month theme.

pineapple labs
As it is my first time to visit Pineapple Labs, I had no idea if this was the usual style of the place.  I sensed a pop art influence with the artists' merchandise being displayed and sold.

pineapple labs
There's a door leading to a hidden room which had a bar and...

pineapple labs

it offers an empty space that is likened to an empty canvass.  Any one can rent it and transform it to anything they want.

Almacen (Location: 5910 Matilde, Makati, Metro Manila)
As it turns into night, we witnessed as Poblacion tranforms into a lively place.

Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen
Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen (Address: 5972 Alfonso cor, Fermina, Makati, Metro Manila)
We went in to this heritage stone home which turns out to be the most magical bar I have ever seen.   Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen is already popular amongst foreigners and locals. 

I was curious to see what was being cooked outside, turns out it is takoyaki

agimat bar makati
Just walking up its stairs was already an amazing build up to the experience.
agimat bar makati
The first thing that got my attention is the huge balete tree.  

agimat bar poblacion
Next to that is the shelves filled with bottles and jar of rare ingredients and concoctions.

Third, was the baristas performance.

the annex house
The Annex House (Address: 5856 Alfonso Street, Makati, Metro Manila)
With just a placard sign, The Annex House is really myserious from the outside.
the annex house poblacion makati
It is so dark that bouncers have to guide you through the staircase with flashlights.  Inside is a typical old home but with a DJ. 

the annex house poblacion makati
I'm told it used to be known as The Workshop but its now venturing into a creative space, bar and even lodging.

Our last stop was for dinner at Cosmic Vegetarian and Vegan Cafe (Address: 2/F 5057 P. Burgos St. Corner Gen. Luna Brgy. Poblacion, Makati).  It was so packed when we got in despite having no apparent signage from the outside.  Just as expected, it was perfect!

Overall, as you can see it, the Meaningful Travel's Poblacion Heritage, Arts and Food Tour is such a fulfilling tour.  I wold recommend it more to foreigners who want to maximize a day's worth of their trip. 


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Meaningful Travel's Muslim Immersion Tour in Quiapo: A Purposeful Experience

Before the onset of Ramadan, I was able to participate in Meaningful Travel's Muslim Immersion Tour in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines. 

manila golden mosque
Manila Golden Mosque Cultural Center
Just from the name itself, you can tell that Meaningful Travels PH is a different kind of tour ogranizer.  It's latest Muslim Immersion Tour in Quiapo seeks to (1) incite awareness and spread the social relevance of the rich Filipino Muslim culture through immersion and (2) give back to the community.   Quiapo, being the hotchpotch of the culture of the major Muslim ethnic tribal groups – particularly, the Maranaos, Tausug, and Maguindanaons, was strategically chosen as the venue of the tour. 

Meaningful Travels PH Quiapo Muslim Town and Culture Tour May 21, 2019 Batch
meaningful travel
Meaningful Travel's May 21, 2019 Batch
Meaningful Travels PH hosts with a limited number of participants per batch.  I'm told that the usual schedule for this tour is in the morning.  But, this is a special tour with the addition of the "Iftar"  to be featured in GMA News Time Reel Segment. 

With this tour, I am happy to meet new people and also be able to reconnect with other bloggers like Karla of TravelwithKarla.Com and Rona of TravelwithMaria.Com.

Meet the Meaningful Travels PH Quiapo Muslim Town and Culture Tour Team

ann marie cunanan
Ann Marie Cunanan
Ann Marie Cunanan is the founder of Meaningful Travels PH.  She is the main facilitator of the tour.  We watched as she was very  hands on in making sure the entire tour is in order.

amanah bursan lao
Amanah Busran Lao
Amanah Busran Lao, is a Shari’ah counselor-at-law, who gave us a brief overview about the Shari’ah law as embodied in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws (CMPL).  Although I am a lawyer, everything she shared was refreshing and new to me.  The Shari’ah law is not something lawyers of the Philippine Bar would have knowledge of.

nords maguindanao
Nords Maguindanao
Nords Maguindanao, who is a Salaam Radio Host, has a lot to share about the hisotrical background of Filipino Muslims.  Although, there are evidently many Filipino Muslim tribes in Maranao, Tausug, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan, did you know that there are Muslim  Sultanates in Manila before too?  There was once a  Kingdom of Tondoc.  But, they were either (1) eliminated (2) converted (3) forced to relocate to Mindanao.  I also got to know that not all Muslims can be classified as Moro - ethnic as there are also the Balik-Islam-reverts.  Moreover, the Muslims in Luzon derived most influence from Malay while those in Mindanao derived most influence from the Malaysians.

Meaningful Travels PH Quiapo Muslim Town and Culture Tour Experience
ibrahim shop quiapo
The tour begins with our conversion...  After meeting the group at the Arab Asian Cafe, we headed off to Ibrahim's Shop who willingly assisted us in wearing the Hijab.  Yes, we have to wear the appropriate attire so we would be allowed to enter the Manila Golden Mosque (Masjid Al-Dahab).

ibrahim shop quiapo
If you didn't read the itinerary and instructional guide before going, not to worry because Ibrahim's Shop has Muslim clothing both for men and...

ibrahim shop quiapo

manila golden mosque tour
We then proceeded to the Manila Golden Mosque.  I already saw it on the way to Arab Asian Cafe and I also heard chants from its direction so it was easy to find.  We were welcomed by their religious leaders who told us thatthe mosque is both a religious and cutlural attraction so they often have different kinds of visitors: locals and foreigners and Muslims and non-Muslims.  The mosque is open 24 hours a day.  Amanah shared that some Muslims live a simple life and live within the Mosque.

manila golden mosque tour
Being a Muslim takes a lot of discipline.  Before stepping in, we had to remove our shoes.

Take note also that for non-Muslims, you need approval to be admitted inside depending on your cause.

manila golden mosque
Did you know that the Manila Golden Mosque was constructed in 1976 through the initiative of Former First Lady Imelda Marcis for Libya’s President Muammar al-Gaddafi

manila golden mosque
There is also a Blue Mosque in Taguig.   Since our visit was during Ramadan, there were those who were taking naps.  Yes, they take naps on the carpeted floor just like that.

quiapo golden mosque
Some gather to preach and share.

Nards shared to us that there are five pillars that a devoted Islam person should follow:
1.  The Shahadah or the declaration of faith - to worship the one god (Allah) and  one messenger or prophet (Muhammad)
2.  Pray five times a day (salah).
3. Fast during the month of Ramadan (Sawm) when there's presence of the sun. They can only eat and drink when the moon is already up.
  • Amazingly, our guides were taking a fast while we were on tour!
4. Give of ahms (zakah) or services for the ones who do not have lots of money
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia

quiapo golden mosque
Do you know what this is could?  So beauitufl and colorful right?

quiapo muslim town
After the mosque tour, we walked around the vicinity to learn about the fashion styles and Halal industry.  Do you notice the mannequins eyes are covered?  I wonder if its Muslim belief-related...

halal quiapo
I got to learn that the Halal Food Industry contributes to a substantial portion of the GDP of many countries.  Yet, the Philippines is a small player in this key industry.

The Manila Golden Mosque vicinity is known to be a center for Halal foods.  Being introduced to Bakas (syellow fin tuna) and Palapa (caramelized shallots or Sakurab, ginger and chili peppers) was interesting for me.

We also bought Apang which was looked like pancakes but are definitely not.  It is made of something fermented which made it a bit sour in taste.

Junairah canteen quiapo
As it was almost meal time after a long fast, Junairah's canteen is packed.

 The dishes were so new to me.  This is Budi - a fish egg curry dish.

Ampak over Tabak
The special part of the tour is the Iftar which is the Muslim meal to break the fasting.  Iftars are usually spent at home but it could also be a meal gathering shared amongst relatives and friends.  The dining set up is so colorful and exquisite.  They called it dulang" which literallly means low table.  The food trays with a stand made of brass are called "tabak". The "tabaks" are covered by colorful and embezzled tray cloths called "ampak".

iftar philippines
We began by eating dates first as not to shock the empty stomach after a long fast.  Then, we continued our feast with Halal foods from Babu's like:
  • Pater -  rice covered in banana leaf with some meat inside
  • Piyaparan Manok - local Filipino Muslim dish that has coconut milk, onions, garlic, white scallions, chili, turmeric, garlic and mor
  • Biyaki - cassava and corn steamed in banana leaf

We were also shown the weaving heirloom product of the Maranao - "langkit" which literally means to embroider or decorate with lace.

maranao langkit
They attach these i to clothing or wear them as a sash.

Overall, it was a fun, interesting and purposeful experince for me.  I can now understand our Muslim brothers and sisters better.
If interested, you may contact Meaningful Travels PH through their Facebook Page.