Local Travel

When in Manila – calesa ride while reminiscing the life of Jose Rizal, tour around Manila Ocean Park and Mall of Asia, and fireworks

Hello everyone!

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I apologize for that. December smacked me on the face with work-related tasks, academe, and thesis proposal preparations. It also hit me with bad news when my aunt, mom’s sister, died. December I would say is bittersweet for all of us in the family – with my aunt dying 3 days after Christmas while we were with mom on a holiday in Tagaytay. Mom had to fly to the province to take care of auntie and the funeral. It’s also a first time for my sis in the USA to come home to Philippines since 2019. She got to visit our dad’s gravestone for the first time. He died while my sister is in the USA, pregnant with my nephew. Then pandemic hit so she couldn’t come home since his death. You can probably imagine how she was when she finally got to visit dad’s grave.

On a happy note, I ended the month (or the year 2022) by successfully presenting my thesis proposal. With my sister and her family home for the holidays, my siblings arranged to spend the Christmas in a resort in Cavite. Then we went on farm tour around Tagaytay and Cavite which I promise to tell more about in my next travel blog.

My nephew and kids while feeding a zebra in one of the farms in Cavite.

In this blog, I want to highlight how we spent Rizal Day, which is every 30th of December. If you’ve been watching Maria Clara at Ibarra, currently a very popular local TV series by GMA, then you’ve been watching an adaptation of a book written by Rizal which is Noli Me Tangere. Rizal wasn’t just a writer though. He was a polyglot who had done works in science, geography, arts and letters, to name a few, and the national hero of the Philippines. His death by firing squad in December 30, 1896, sparked the biggest (or one of the big ones) revolutionary war against the Spaniards during their 300-year occupation of the Philippine Islands. When I was still working in Mindanao, I got to visit his home in Dapitan City and wrote a blog about it, link below:

His heroism is the very reason why we celebrate Rizal Day every December 30th. A calesa ride around Luneta Park (the site where he was shot and killed) and nearby attraction seemed like one good way to commemorate the day especially for homeschooling families like us. Going around the old walled city of Manila, Intramuros, in a calesa, felt nostalgic. It also reminded me of the stuff I saw in Dapitan – the water reservoir Rizal made for the locals, his home, his school, his octagon-shaped clinic, the Rizalians, and the musem that feature his works.

Rizal Day Tour

Just a quick video of our calesa ride if you don’t feel like going through the text below. 🙂

We are still in pandemic so we wore our masks when we took an LRT ride to Luneta Park. To get there via commute, we took the LRT-1 at Munoz station and got off at UN Station. From there, we walked towards Luneta Park. It was noticeable that some did not wear their masks at all so we did the same so we could at least breathe in the fresh air. We were mindful about social distancing though.

We chanced upon an empty calesa and we were told by the owner that a ride costs Php 500 pesos per 30 minutes, that’s about 10 US dollars. As you can see in the video, we just took the ride and didn’t get off since we’ve already done that before, see the article I wrote below about our National Museum and Intramuros Tour:

We also didn’t bother haggling for the price of the ride since tourism was down for two years. While on the ride, the owner was chatty and he told us about how it was hard to earn money during the lockdown, he had to take odd jobs in construction just to feed his horse. Pro tip though, be mindful of your surroundings even while in the ride. One of the snatchers (there’s plenty in the city, sadly) climbed the back of the calesa and almost took my phone while I was taking a video. The driver/owner caught him and almost hit him with this whip. Other than this incident, the whole ride was safe and quiet. I also noticed how the cars gave way for the calesa. 🙂

We asked the driver to bring us to the Manila Ocean Park at the end of the tour and paid him for the ride. In the park, we met with my sisters and their families, and went around to visit the different attractions. Despite the park being packed, the day being a holiday, we still enjoyed revisiting the attractions and the burgers that we had along the bay. We went to the Mall of Asia afterwards to visit Ikea, shopped for a few items, and had dinner with our families. There was a fireworks display at night, courtesy of SM, along the bay walk. The kids truly enjoyed everything that happened during the day – from the train ride to the fireworks display and everything in between. It was one for the books. Here’s a short video compilation of our Manila Ocean Park and Mall of Asia Tour. 🙂

Thank you all for reading this far.



3 thoughts on “When in Manila – calesa ride while reminiscing the life of Jose Rizal, tour around Manila Ocean Park and Mall of Asia, and fireworks”

  1. As a short story writer, reading about the experience of taking a calesa ride while reminiscing the life of Jose Rizal in Manila really sparks my imagination. The nostalgic and historic atmosphere of Intramuros and Luneta Park adds depth and cultural significance to the story. The personal touch of the writer’s family celebrating Rizal Day and the tragic news of their aunt’s passing adds emotional depth to the tale. Overall, this post has left me inspired to incorporate elements of Philippine history and culture into my own writing.


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