MABUHAY!!! It's our way of greeting visitors to the Philippines. It means "to life" or "long-live". In one word, it encapsulates who we are as a nation. Nowhere else in the world will you find a people with such a zest for life. In times of war or peace, the Filipino will always come out on top. We make light of everything... bad politics, showbiz scandals...even natural disasters... But that is what makes our country UNIQUE. It's the ever present smile on the Filipinos faces that helps us survive. So if you're interested in what makes the Philippines and the Filipinos tick... feel free to read on...

Tour with Wives of Ship Captains

Date of Tour : June 18 2010
Booking Agency : Vivienne del Prado
Mabuhay Guide : Dennis Geronimo Red Maristany
Guests : 10 Pax
Type of Tour : Site , Walking Tours
Itinerary :
Planned Rizal Monument/ Fort Santiago/ San Agustin/ American Cemetery Tour

Actual: Rizal Monument/ Fort Santiago/ San Agustin/ Manila Hotel Tour

Time of Tour :
Planned 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Actual 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Highlights of the Tour:
• It was an early morning tour of Intramuros that was assigned to me by Ms Goya Reinoso on 17 June, 2010. The contact person for the tour group was Ms Vivienne del Prado who also arranged a tour for Norwegian Seafarers in June of 2009 . Originally, the tour was slated for Saturday, 19 June, 2010 which starts at the Fort Santiago and ends at the American Memorial Cemetery. I inquired regarding the demographics of the tour group and was informed I was touring another batch of seafarers, mostly ship captains who were here for the IFSMA conference.

• That same evening I received a text message from the contact person informing me that she had made a grave mistake thinking that the tour was for Saturday, 19 June, 2010 instead of 18 June, 2010. That meant the tour was on for Friday. I wasted no time and made the necessary preparations making sure I had most of the necessary information tailored for seafarers

• I arrived at the Century Park Hotel at 8:00 am to meet with Ms Vivienne del Prado’s Mom, Nanette del Prado. I informed the contact person on her cellphone that I was at the lobby and was met with a quizzical reply from Mrs Del Prado that we weren’t leaving till the guests assembled at 9:00 a.m. I informed her that I was there customarily early just incase there were things we needed to discuss regarding the tour and that I will wait for the appointed time. I decided to have breakfast first to bide the time.

• At ten minutes past 9:00 a.m. I received a call from Mrs. Del Prado informing me to leave the lobby and wait for the van outside the back entrance of Century Park Hotel which I did. The black van moved up the curb a few minutes after I stepped outside. Apparently not all the guests were billeted in the same hotel. But I had noticed a group of ladies at the cafĂ© who happened to belong to the tour group. I told them I had noticed them earlier and that eased the initial jitters.

• Mrs. del Prado said I could start with the commentaries which I did. There were no men on the tour group but it was the wives of the ship captains who were present. There were of different nationalities: American, British, German, Norwegian, Indian, Mrs. Del prado and her daughter Bianca. We collected another Indian Lady from the Boulevard Hotel along Roxas Boulevard. After the pick-up I realized I was so eager about my commentaries I had forgotten to introduce myself properly. This was a huge guffaw moment that added to the lightness of the mood of the tour group.

• I showed them the yellow flags of Cory and Ninoy Aquino and tied it in with the presidential inauguration that was about to take place at the end of the month. The American lady asked if it was a good thing for the country and how it was received by the nation. I launched a commentary of Noynoy’s parentage and that it was on his shoulders to take up the cudgels for the very principles that his parents had fought for while they were alive. Of course, it was a positive thing for the Philippines. They were also awestruck at the US Embassy near the Rizal Park.

• We got off at the Rizal Monument where they had photo ops. I showed them the Quirino Grandstand from the vantage point of the flag pole. One guest asked about the white monument. I mentioned that it was a representation of the Motherland and the Filipinos. I informed those within earshot that the Philippines is a matriarchal society. No matter how rough and macho Filipino men may seem, they have a soft spot for their mothers. We then proceeded to Intramuros and I showed them the Manila Hotel along the way. The guests expressed interest in seeing the Mc Arthur Suite. I said we would see it if we had enough time.

• At Fort Santiago, I started at the American Barracks since the gate leading to the quaint Guadalupe Chapel was closed and gave my commentaries on Baluarte de San Francisco Javier, American Barracks and Wall of Martyrs. I made sure that they knew Ferdinand Marcos and Elpidio Quirino were in the roster.

• Then we proceeded to the moat area where I gave my commentary on the Fort Santiago again emphasizing that the fort was bounded by Manila Bay on the West and the Pasig River on the North/ North East. As we went across the bridge i gathered them at the front of the main gate making sure I gave emphasis on the significance of the bas reliefs of Santiago de Matamoros and the Royal Seal of Spain.

• I then led them to the Plaza Armas and the Rizal Shrine, I delivered my commentary on the mural by Botong Francisco. There were other tourist who had lingered on to listen to my commentaries. Thankfully, they moved on ahead of my tour group.

• We then proceeded with the rest of the Rizal shrine. They were eager to learn about Jose Rizal and some of them started reading the poems on the chamber of texts. The German Lady was very impressed with Rizal’s poetry. After completing the tour of Rizal Shrine, we went on to Casa Castellana then to the Falsa Braga de Media Naranja. Pasig River was being dredged and there was a stench along the river area so I quickly moved them to the Memorial Cross.

• At Media Naranja, we did the necessary commentaries and the had our photos taken. We then went on to the Chapel cell where I gave my commentaries on the Memorial Cross, the Postigo, and the memorial walk to martyrdom of Jose Rizal... after which we went on to the Almacenes Reales where I gave them commentaries on Plaza Moriones and the former chapel of Nstra. Sra dela Encarnacion.

• The guests were visibly getting tired from the heat of the day so we motored to San Agustin. My commentary on Plaza Roma and the Cathedral and the Governor's Palace were done in the van on our way to San Agustin Church.

• There an ongoing renovation at the San Agustin Church. We did a hasty tour of the porter’s lodge, the sala recibidor, the corridors ( where I introduced them to Fr. Pedro Gallende) and then we proceeded to the Urdaneta Special Exhibit as it would be a point of interest for them being wives of ship captains. They loved that portion but marveled at how the items were just ordinarly displayed without much security.

• I then brought them inside the Church for them to admire the UNESCO World Heritage Site. They totally marvelled at the sight of San Agustin’s interiors and were visibly awed by the detail. Then I brought them to the Sala Profundis and to the Refectory then I showed them the silver carriages altar decorations and the priests’ vestments embroidered in gold and silver thread.

• The museum was about to close for lunch so I hurriedly ushered them to the exit but stopped momentarily near Fr. Blanco’s Garden and showed them some of the framed samples of the Flora de Filipinas then I showed them the piedra china at the Escalera Principal. It was nearly Lunch time so I ushered them back to the exit as we needed to proceed to the lunch venue so they could meet their respective husbands for lunch.

• Lunch at the ASSOCIATED MARINE OFFICERS SERVICE UNION OF THE PHILIPPINES (AMOSUP) was well provided for. The ladies were excitedly having lunch with their husbands and informing them of how well the tour went. Some of the gentlemen went up to me to introduce themselves and commend me for entertaining their wives and told me how much their wives had enjoyed their time with me. Some captains even asked where they should go on their next trip back to the country.

• Some of the guests had gone the day before to American Cemetery so Mrs. Del Prado informed me that they had to change the itinerary at the last minute. They were going to Greenhills. So after lunch she pulled me aside to pay my fees and inform me that I was done for the day. Out of courtesy, I informed her that since I was paid for the trip to the American Cemetery I could join them to Greenhills at no extra cost. She said ok but later recanted as they were supposed to do another stop at another office. She had this brilliant idea of stopping at the Manila Hotel and asked me to join them there instead. I agreed.

• At the Manila Hotel we were informed that the Mc Arthur Suite was not available for viewing so they graciously brought us to the archives where there were photos of erstwhile celebrity occupants of the room and the international celebrities who have stayed at the prestigious hotel. The guests were very impressed with the old world charm of the Manila Hotel lobby and from there I informed Mrs Del Prado that they can drive by the Quirino Grandstand where Noynoy Aquino was to be sworn into office.

• I bid my guests goodbye as they boarded the van for the trip to Greenhills.

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