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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Pulumbarit

Catch 'One Night in Intramuros' Halloween virtual tour on Oct. 30

The historic walled expanse of Intramuros is one of the most beautiful yet most intriguing places in the city of Manila.

Intramuros, a 59-hectare area surrounded by 20-foot thick walls, is home to the Manila Cathedral, considered as the "Mother Church" in the Philippines; San Agustin Church, Fort Santiago, and other historic sites and museums.

At present, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourist sites and museums in Intramuros remain closed.

However, on October 30 at 9:00 p.m., WanderManila, a touring and experiential group, will host on Facebook a Halloween tour dubbed "One Night in Intramuros."

"If the walls of Intramuros could speak, imagine the stories it could tell. Tales of intrigue, of passion and jealousy, of violence and death. What secrets are the Walled City hiding? What stories are there to uncover? What lurks inside the shadows?" WanderManila asks.

The group promises to share stories and anecdotes about Intramuros. "See the Walled City from the shadows and the dark corners," the group says.

The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that the name Intramuros was coined from the Spanish word meaning "within walls."

Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who turned the Philippines into a Spanish colony, established the city of Manila in 1571. He was also the first Governor General of the Philippines.

He passed away a year later in 1572 before the construction of the walls of Intramuros were built.

The stone wall was built to protect Manila from natural and man-made disasters as well as foreign invaders such as the Chinese pirates led by Limahong, who attacked the city in 1574.

The construction of the defensive fortification began during the term of Governor General Santiago de Vera who ruled from 1584 to 1590.

The area within the walled city became a thriving community with churches, schools, and government structures such as the Palacio del Gobernador, the official residence of the Governor Generals of Spain in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, during the Second World War, much of Intramuros was destroyed. The month-long Battle of Manila from February 3 to March 3, 1945 that killed over 100,000 Filipinos also leveled down Intramuros.

Many of the brutal incidents that occurred during the Battle of Manila were described in detail by Dr. Benito Legarda Jr. in his essay "Manila Holocaust: Massacre and Rape," published online by the Presidential Museum and Library.

Bombings during the Battle of Manila destroyed about 95 percent of the structures inside Intramuros and about 40 percent of the wall fortification. Only the damaged San Agustin church was left standing after the war.

The Philippines struggled to rebuild Intramuros after the Battle of Manila. See "Then and Now" photos in this special feature of the Official Gazette of the Philippine government.

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