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I Envy this Tour Guide in Intramuros

A casual walk inside Intramuros like seeing the old walls and churches there I thought is enough to fill Annie’s curiosity, a Canadian tourist whom I met thru Couch Surfing of what we Filipinos were before. But as soon as we walked near Manila Cathedral all the researches I did a night ago about its history was forgotten! I just blurted out “Oh, a famous tour guide and authority of Manila’s history once held a protest here, dressed in our national hero’s attire, flashed a placard with a Damaso name on it while there is a mass going on. ” She gave me a blank stare. “He spent a night in a jail after.” I received another blank stare.

Just in front of Manila Cathedral, I led her to Plaza De Roma. Again, the reviews online I read about this, all gone in the air. A forty-something, petite man suddenly approached us and offered to walk us through the historical places, of course with a pay. He said an amount at first which we thought it’s expensive and we quickly said No”. He slashed the price half, we quickly said “Yes”. But how can this be a tour guide when his wearing a white shirt and shorts? Then he opened a crumpled plastic bag, took a dress out that looks old and shook it. The next thing we knew, he’s putting on this green, flashy dress in front of us that he later said their official uniform as tour guides! I was laughing my heart out and so did Annie.

He quickly led us to Palacio De Gobernador and showed us an old, printed copy of the places we’re going to see and began chanting us the history of each place like a pro! Annie and I quickly exchanged smiles as a way of saying he’s good and funny! Then we went back to Manila Cathedral. After ‘chanting’, he quickly offered to take a photo of us like we don’t need to ask a favor to have him to. Then we found ourselves, walking behind him, following him wherever he goes. Our next stop is the San Agustin Museum. Same thing, he would always initiate to take a photo of us and it made us laugh again because while he is taking the picture he would kneel down, slouch  that he looks like he’s crawling already. His head and the camera are almost touching the floor! Then we looked at the picture he took, it was great because it’s not only a whole body type but from the ceiling up to the floor down it’s all caught in the picture. “I learned something new about taking pictures today.” I said. Annie added Yup, he’s got a future in photography!”

“Hmmm, what if given another situation with my buddies and asked to take their picture and do this too? Nah, they’ll laugh at me for sure!” He led us to different rooms of artifacts, paintings, old retablo of the church, furnitures, 400 yr-old bamboo organ, big vases dug from China, statues and altar utensils made of diamonds, gold, emerald, ruby amethyst etc. He made us listen to the noise inside the vases too. An imitation, you’ll not hear anything.” He said. I felt like I was transported back to this era! Then we went inside San Agustin Church. We looked up and the ceiling seemed like we’re inside a hat with full of art decors. Then he said, “The one you’re seeing on top is FLAT.” “Did you say what, FLAT? “Yeah, it’s like a three-dimensional painting.” He could tell we don’t believe him yet so he made us touch another kind of this painting on the other side and “Yes it is!”

We went out and while walking a group of Japanese students are just in front of us and their tour guide is also Japanese. So I asked “Oh, so there’s a foreign tour guide here too?” He replied. “Yeah, they come here to take a lesson and be a tour guide to their fellow countrymen who visits here. “ “I see.” I said“If I finished my studies, maybe you won’t see me here today. ” He said in Filipino. I then told Annie in English what he said and noticed his funny face became sad, his eyes a bit watery. I got tongue-tied. My heart was pinched!

Then we reached Fort Santiago. It’s already past five in the afternoon so the museums are closed already. We dropped by the store and Annie went to the cashier to have her money be changed into smaller bills. Then I throw him a few questions. He answered. “I’ve been a tour guide for 23 years already. I thank Gordon who funded the event so that we have license.” Then I popped up my BIGGEST question for him. “Don’t you get bored?” He replied. “No, because from time to time we are invited to tour people in Boracay, Bohol, Palawan, Cebu, Davao for free.”

Annie and I went separate ways. We thanked each other. I hope it was a great experience for her. She said she will upload the photos by first week of February since she will tour a few islands in the country for the next 2 weeks or so. I can hardly wait. Then I remember the tour guide, he didn’t know there’s one person that envies him so much… it’s me. My work has imprisoned me for several years already that almost it’s impossible to make a vacation longer than three days. What would happen to this guy and the rest who makes a living out of Intramuros and Fort  Santiago which is said to be on the verge of irreparable loss and destruction?  Curious enough, I took a picture of him while copying his body style on how to take picture and the one above is the result.

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