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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.

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