Let’s be frank: Independence Day isn’t half as big of a deal here in the Philippines as it is in other countries. While the US has Fourth of July celebrations and carnivals, and Canada has Canada Day, Metro Manila mostly offers Independence Day promos on food and drink.
After centuries under the heavy yoke of various colonizers, is that all there is to Independence Day, in Manila of all places?
While mall promos might be the first to come to mind, Don’t Skip Manila is partnering with Intramuros Administration and We Are Intramuros to present Freedom at the Walled City, a day-long celebration of Philippine Independence. Attractions include free entrances to Fort Santiago and Destileria Limtuaco Museum from 9:00 am-6:00 pm; a free photowalk all around Intramuros, beginning in Plaza Roma at 9:00 am; and a car-less General Luna Street for strolls, bikes and pets from 9:00 am-6:00 pm. The walled city will be free for exploring, all in the spirit of old Manila!
In line with this, there will be an Independence Day Tour around fort Santiago and Rizal Shrine; Plaza Mayor, Manila Cathedral, and Freedom Bazaar; Plaza de Sta. Isabel, and Casa Manila. Priced at P612 per person, the tour will cover the entrance fees of museums, a kalesa ride (free those sad horses if you can, though), refreshments, and a Don’t Skip Manila tour guide. This tour will give your Manila experience more structure, since you’ll be following a schedule and getting tidbits of information here and there.
Two other events will also be happening from 6:00 am-9:00 pm. The We Are Intramuros Freedom Bazaar by Puesto Manila will be providing 50+ concessionaires and performers for all your artsy needs in Plaza Roma; selected vendors and artists include The Reading Room, Silaya Productions, and Earthy Jewels, to name a few. Moreover, the We Are Intramuros Short Film Festival will be screening in Teatro, Fort Santiago. If you’re feeling creative, the Manila Times will also be holding Intramuros on Canvass: On the Spot Live Painting and Exhibit. With free registration, participants can paint their favorite spot in the city of Intramuros!
Finally, cap off the day’s festivities with the We Are Intramuros Music Festival at the Puerta Real Gardens, 3:00 pm-1:00 am, free of charge! Co-presented by the Manila Bulletin, this festival will feature performers of the likes of Orange and Lemons, Ang Bandang Shirley, Droppout and Rhyne, and Wasted Wendy.
So, there it is. Intramuros reminds us of the richness (and oldness) of Philippine culture as well as of the artistic capabilities of Filipinos as a people. Past all the food promos, past the MMDA’s suspension of the coding scheme, you just have to look in the right places to find Filipino Independence in the now.