Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :


*Disclaimer : I try to maintain my blog as an APOLITICAL one so this isn’t about views and opinions about any issue. 🙂

 “How many times have you been inside Malacanang Palace?”  asked by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks to our group of 14 tourists –a mix of locals, balikbayans and a few foreigners.  One of us replied, “Four!”   …I thought my previous Malacanang experience was absolutely no match because I only answered, “Once“…

Then Ivan continued to ask, “How many times have you been to SM (Shoemart Department Stores)?

I smiled. 🙂

Apparently, setting foot inside the grounds where President of the Philippines resides and takes office doesn’t happen on a daily basis.  Needless to say, it’s another EXTRAORDINARY experience for us. Thank you, Ivan for the invites! My wife, my dad-in-law and I definitely enjoyed every bits. Brilliant!

We began The Power, Palace and A Shot of Beer Walking Tour in one of the art-deco huge houses in San Miguel, Manila– the Legarda Mansion, that’s known to others as the fine-dining restaurant, La Cocina de Tita Moning. From there, Ivan escorted  us through a parallel of San Miguel all the way to the stone throw away, Malacanang. The drizzle that Wednesday afternoon wasn’t an issue to get us in the Palace.

these things look amazing to me...

ORGANIZED…  Several days prior, we received an email with reminders of what to expect, where to meet, the how-to-get-there-map, and whatnot on the this walking tour. Our names were collected for submission as guests to the Kalayaan Hall or the Malacanang Palace Museum thus, getting inside was such a breeze (Do you think PSG did a character-investigation prior to the tour? haha, just asking!).  Understandably, since we’re paying the highest office of the land a visit, our bags and bodies were scanned; cameras were labeled with red-orange PSG stickers (I just didn’t get it why PSG asked us-those with cameras to have a test shot with them or point and shoot it first at anything…). Ivan explained everything’s a protocol, of course.

With utmost humility, I got 1.25 (highest of 1.0 and lowest of 5.0) in Philippine History back in my days when I was taking up my pre-medical course at Far Eastern University (who cares, right? even the carebears don’t care, toinks!). Defensively, I am neither a History geek nor a happy-g0-lucky kind of guy. I just don’t know up to now what soul got into me those days that I became so fascinated with Agoncillo’s book on Philippine History and taking essay-type-of-exams in our class wasn’t difficult for me. With more than a decade after, I forgot everything I’ve learned. Haha! Well, almost.

INFORMATIVE…Glad I was one of the participants of this walking tour because A LOT of things that happened in the past were not found on books. And Ivan had refreshed and informed us even of things unfamiliar to many. Case in point are these four men  on a set of painting who contributed to the Philippine History. The only name that rang a bell to my ears was Hernando de Magallanes who toured the globe before he got killed with his Portugese Christian soldiers by a native ruler of Mactan, Cebu–who else but Lapu-lapu. (Iyong iba, di ko ka-facebook, hehehe!) 🙂

Apart from history and politics aside, Malacanang Palace as a tangible structure in my humble opinion, is very Filipino or at least represents who we are, how we evolved through the years. Inspite of the fact that the exteriors reminds us of Spanish colonial regime, it boasts of intricate carvings on solid wood inside its vast and countless rooms that  obviously reflect talent, skills, artistry and craftmanship of Filipino people.

Must have that detailed shot…

INTERESTING…wood carving galore!

Can you believe that this served as a luggage used in traveling in the previous era? ...*hebigat*

One can easily tell that those solid wood carvings from  Narra, Kamagong and other finest lumber are symbolic of our resilience amidst adversities, or was it only my interpretation? I hope others won’t perceived it as luxuries in the heart of a third world country (Did I just mentioned this blog would not discuss social and political issues?).

NEVER  BORING… The tour featured almost all corners of the museum and the stories behind them.

Imagine the efforts exerted in making these floor to ceiling wood carvings. One can almost feel the hands that held those chisels. Artistic. Decorative. Beautiful!

Nothing’s overlooked…

even the electric sockets should look authoritative? 😛

NOSTALGIC…Alas, my solitary memory of Malacanang Palace resurfaced from my lazy cerebrum. Upon the sight of the rooms, I remembered Imelda Marcos’ shoes, Ferdinand Marcos’ five libraries with vast collection of books, their gorgeous paintings, Madame’s canopied bed with wooden crown at its top, her toilet boasting of jars of perfumes with actual miniscule faucets and a lot more of Marcos’.

Admit it, they're the most vivid and powerful people who lived in the palace.

COMPELLING… How does a ruler convince his people to follow his lead?

Letras Y Figuras : One of the eye-catching commissioned paintings inside Malacanang has the name of Imelda Romualdez Marcos with scenic and iconic paintings representing her "achievements" per letter of her name.
Si Sir....
at si Madame...

Martial Law may have scarred the many; thus, looking at the same chair and table where it was proclaimed could hyperstimulate your senses or worst, can be disturbing…

ENGAGING with WITS and HUMOR…As a lecturer myself for almost a decade now, I have learned to make my classroom discussion interactive, lively and enticing despite a boring topic.  And the Ivan Man Dy certainly knows to do the same, in fact far better than my limited skills.  He makes Philippine History soft and chewy to absorb by the common tao, much more by the foreigners who most of the time are clueless of our own story.

"How many pairs shoes did Imelda Marcos have?", "Where are her shoes now?" Everyone was enthralled in the charming discussion about everything inside the museum including fellow blogger, Marian of her site, upto6only (wearing black shirt with pink headband and pink belt; yes, it must be pink, right, Marian? hehe!)

Folks, meet the most participative tourist in our group,  Mr. Primo (the one wearing Fedora hat and eyeglasses). He’s the man who made the tour more fascinating. He had the most extensive commentaries.

Ivan's so successful in engaging all of us in his tour.

To me, students who come to my classes so prepared and well-read, are definitely a challenge. And Mr. Primo is similar to such, that with his impressive knowledge on Philippine History, his great discussions with Ivan made me think he could effortlessly pass as a Dean in an academe or simply put, he’s someone who experienced the tales being told.

FANTASTIC... The tour featured the priceless art works of Filipino artists as well as gifts from foreign dignitaries that are all housed inside Kalayaan Hall.

I just had to click my cam on the sculpture of that Greek God, Mercury (right photo); reminds me of a local drugstore's tag line, "Gamot ay Laging Bago" hehe!

There’s something for everyone to be interested with…

With all due respect, Ex-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada's inaugural Barong Tagalog showed he's definitely bigger than I am. *no pun intended*.
She will be forever Tita Cory to me. I was once a child growing up in her presidency.

One of the reasons why this tour's called, "Palace, Power and A Shot of Beer" : San Miguel Brewery back in the old days was located literally beside Malacanang Palace. Don't ask me how it happened. I highly suggest you join the tour of Old Manila Walks.

And of course, there were those photo-op moments…

Special thanks to my father-in-law who snapped this shot.

On way out, I found this sculpture of a family that I wished to have as a takeaway. hehe!

After more than 2 hours, we walked our way out of the Palace and Ivan led us back to the Legarda Mansion (not of  Senator Loren’s but Atty Katrina’s family).

The tour promised a fine-dining merienda, et voila!

How often do you eat with rose petals on the table?

We enjoyed it in an-open-air-dining area within the simple garden of the Legarda’s.  The ambiance was so casual yet the offerings were special.

The sotanghon (vermicelli noodles) dish was a delight. Squeezing a calamansi covered with mesh (similar to how they serve it at the Lobby of the Manila Peninsula --abangan!) over a sauce dish of fish sauce and chili even made the pancit more heavenly.

We were treated to a delicious light snack but absolutely less ordinary…

If my taste buds and memory serve me right, those 2 slices were chicken galantina. One thing is definite, its aroma and fantastic taste was to die for.

However, they made the dessert less sweet (perhaps, they’re considering the diabetic tourists/diners). Sayang, I like it done with more sugar.

Guinataang Bilo-bilo

For the nth time, this tour’s called, Palace, Power and A Shot of Beer.  So other than that refreshing and refillable Tanglad Iced Tea (Lemon Grass Iced Tea) and cold water, here’s that single shot of San Miguel Beer, cheers! 😀

It was so nice to end a tour with a simple feast. But lo and behold, Ivan gave us a plus! After I told him that I read somewhere that the Legarda Mansion houses a doctor’s clinic (the patriarch and his 4 kids were all MDs), without hesitation, he invited all of us for a short but another impressive tour inside La Cocina De Tita Moning.

The experience inside the Legarda Mansion deserves a separate post…Soon! 🙂

For interested parties to join Ivan Man Dy’s tours of Manila, contact them via their website at OLDMANILAWALKS.COM


Manigong Bagong Taon po sa lahat at Maraming Salamat! May the good Lord continuously shower us with His divine grace.



  1. wow nahiya naman ako magpost ganda ng shots mo 🙂 hahaha tama it has to be pink. palitan ko na kaya ang name ng blog ko hahaha. thanks to Grace for the headband 🙂

    1. and so you may include this tour whenever you find time to come back home, maria.
      i forgot to include the cost of the tour in the post –as of present posting, it’s P1,100/pax inclusive of the fine-dining merienda and everything. however, ivan was so gracious to invite me and tina for free; we only paid for my father-in-law… we left gabby to my dad & other relatives while we went on the tour, ayaw kasi nya ng long walks and waiting. alam mo na, mga bata. 🙂

      happy new year!!! 🙂

  2. nalimutan ko na yung libro ni agoncillo. hahaha… kakahiya. great choice of joining ivan in this tour. i love this tour.

    cheers to more years of blogging and cherishing your family!

    di ka nga lang nagpakita dito sa pinas. 😦

    1. yes, this tour from ivan is superb in every sense of the word. even exceeded my expectations!

      happy new year, dom!
      punta na lang kayo sa penang, habang nandoon kami, saka tayo photowalk. 😀

  3. I only saw Ivan when he accompanied Anthony Bourdain on a market tour during the Philippine episode of his show. Indeed, Ivan has the knack for history so I wouldn’t be surprised if his guests are impressed. This is something I would want to join too since I haven’t been inside Malacanang Palace myself. Buti ka pa nga at na-libre.

    Happy New Year to you, Tina & Gabby!

    1. happy new year, dennis and i am already excited for your travels this 2012!

      oh yeah, you should include ivan’s tour of malacanang, or his binondo food wok and a lot more choices in your list of must-do when you come home to pinas.

      how’s the weather in new york? where did you spend new year’s eve?

  4. wow i never really thought of malacanang as a place to tour before but your post truly twirled my interest. i love your luggage photo as well as the chair. the painting of imelda as a farmer was very curious. i never thought of her that way. my aunt loves her passion for the arts though. happy new year to you and your family! enjoy your vacay here! 😀

    1. imelda is a personality that’s difficult to beat. disregarding political and social issues, she’s one colorful icon who contributed many for the arts in the country. and imelda as a farmer? i am not surprised. she’d do anything to please the masses of course.

      happy new year, pm!
      do try ivan’s tour if you find time.

  5. napaka fascinating ng tour! i would have enjoyed it.

    re the camera…baka daw kasi baril na nagpapanggap na camera ang dala nyo, kaya kailangan ng test shot! hehe! saka yung sa luggage…naku, di ako makakatravel kung ganun ang bag ko!

    1. it’s indeed fascinating! with ivan at the lead, everything at anywhere will be more interesting!

      LOL at your thoughts on the camera that luggage! haha 😀

  6. happy new year doc to u and your family!!!

    cheers and more posts to come for 2012!!! im looking forward to them nd thanks for stopping by my blog as well =)

    ps. when i went to SG last Nov, i wasnt able to stop by Charlie Brown Cafe [too bad =(]…bbawi nlng ako hopefully when i visit in MY again soon…hehe

      1. yeap…hopefully this later part of 2012, ive always wanted to go back because years ago, me nd my mom were first timers there so didn’t get to roam around much…

        most of i know who visited MY told me to try and spend an extra time to Penang…im thinking of including it na plus some spots in KL i haven’t visited den before =)

        i’ll let u know doc when *crossing fingers*…gotta save again some PHP’s and vacation leaves…hehe =)

  7. nice blog doc! haven’t been to malacanang palace, but few of my balikbayan relatives said that the palace is magnificent. will try to go there if i have the money & time!hehe regarding to la cocina de tita moning, for me it’s the most awesome-est experience to be in an ancestral house turned resto. it’s just stunning, the place is great but the food… the food is great also pero dapat yata hindi ka masyadong gutom pag kumain dun.. ang konti ng serving!hahaha

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