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Hello to everyone back home!

Magandang umaga (beautiful morning) here in the Philippines! Today our quest through the Philippines started with a tour of Fort Santiago. Walking through the gates of the Fort, our tour guide, Tim, led us along our journey to see the prison cell of Philippine Hero, Jose Rizal.

Here is a little background on Rizal. Rizal was a famous writer from the Philippines during the time when the Spanish were in control of the Philippines. He wrote about making the Philippines a great nation by first becoming a province under Spain to learn and grow, to later one day gain independence. However some Filipinos took his writings as a call to action, especially Bonifacio who would go on to lead the rebellion against the Spanish. When the Filipinos did eventually revolt against the Spaniards, Rizal was blamed even though he never called for immediate action/violence against the Spanish. He was later arrested and killed by a firing squad on December 30th 1896.

At the fort we were able to view the cell where Rizal was kept during his final months of life. The jail cell was a large room, much larger than my room at home, that contained a bed and a desk. There were intricate tunnels that ran all under the fort that allowed the guards to move about. On our way out, we saw the footprints of Rizal himself as he walked and enjoyed his final hours of life.

Our next stop on our adventure was to St. Augustine’s Church. This was a massive cathedral where we all learned some history about the church and about religion in the Philippines. From the massive stone staircases to the paintings on the ceilings, all of the architecture was spectacular.

After the church, we took a stroll over to Casa Manila. This house was that of a wealthy Filipino during the pre Spanish colonial era. The home was lavished with the nicest furniture, two rooms were set up to entertain company, and special fans hung from the ceiling to fan away bugs. The house included a courtyard along with other buildings that were used to entertain guests. Only the wealthiest Filipinos were able to afford these beautiful furnishings seen in the home.

We then went to lunch at Max’s and had one of the Philippines’ best deserts, the Halo-Halo. This was a mixture of rice, shaved ice, ice cream, beans, and many other things that I did not think were suppose to go together in a desert. With our stomachs filled, we traveled to a history museum that displayed the history of the Philippines in little model displays. It went through the Philippine struggle with the Spaniards, how the U.S. helped, and how Japan affected Philippine independence. This was a nice visual on the history that we have been learning throughout our many lectures on the matter.

When the educational part of the day was over and we were able to practice our bartering skills in the Philippine market in Green Hills. Shops on shops on shops, from 3XL Filipino shirts that were to small for all Americans, to fresh water pearls, to fake Oakley sunglasses; this market had it all and everything was a great price.

Our day ended with dinner at a Thai food restaurant where we ate off of banana leaf plates and enjoyed good conversations about the day’s activities. Today was an adventurous day and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow has in store. Keep checking in to see where our Filipino adventures will go next. Take care all. AJ