Holy week in Manila

While everybody headed out of Manila to spend Holy Week at the beach or shopping overseas, I stayed in Manila. Hardly anyone I know (well, the partyphiles anyway) wanted to stay in Manila during Lent because they all know Manila would be dead and deserted. And that’s why I wanted to stay in Manila.


Manila without traffic is heaven. It’s so great to drive around — my friends picked me up at 3:00 pm, and we were at Quiapo by 3:20. That’s where we encountered the traffic, Quiapo Church. There were too many jeepneys and all of them waiting for passengers. Once we got past the traffic, the roads were virtually empty again.

Nazuna at the Rizal Park
Nazuna and Jose

The destination was Luneta, but we decided to check if Fort Santiago was open. We entered Intramuros and we were able to have a running tour of the walled city as the road between San Agustin Church and the Manila Cathedral was closed to vehicular traffic. To our disappointment, Fort Santiago was closed. We drove on to Rizal Park.

Er, hero's walk?
Err, hero’s walk? This pathway was lined by busts notable people in the Philippine’s history.

We parked at the Quirino Grandstand, right in front of the entrance to the Manila Ocean Park. We would’ve gone inside (and escaped the sun and the heat), but we decided to put off the visit until the entire complex is finished. The field across the grandstand was filled with people flying kites. The kites made me remember the times we went to the cemetery during All Saint’s Day. We made our way to Kilometer 0, the starting point for all kilometer markers around the Philippines.

Avril at the Chinse Garden Entrance
Avril at the entrance to the Chinese Garden

I was instantly reminded of the first time I encountered this marker. It was the starting and end point of this race I unwittingly signed up for almost four years ago. That was also the last time I remembered being, rather, passing through Rizal Park.


I’ve always thought that Luneta was just that strip of land between Roxas Boulevard and Mabini. It turns out that Rizal Park starts from Taft Avenue (where that bas relief map of the Philippines is) up to the Quirino Grandstand. Not only that, there’s also several gardens within the complex: the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Manila Orchidarium, and the Artist’s Haven. Unfortunately, they were all closed, so we just walked around Luneta, enjoying our bananacue, green mangoes with bagoong and C2 iced tea.

Rizal monument
The Rizal Monument

When we got tired, we made our way back to the car and decided to check if the Paco Park was open. It wasn’t, so we decided to go to the CCP complex instead. If it was a regular day, we woulnd’t even thought to go to Paco park or even go near Taft Avenue. Because there weren’t many cars on the road, it was joy to drive around Manila. We also realized that in between us three, we can manage to navigate around this city.

Cultural Center of the Philippines
The Cultural Center of the Philippines

Tired from our walk around Luneta and not wanting to brave the heat again, we just drove around the CCP complex, then headed home. This trip made me realize that though I can find my way around Manila, I never really stopped to see what this city has to offer. I have been to most malls in Metro Manila, but I haven’t really gone beyond that. Well, that’s going to change. I promised myself that I will explore Manila more this year, and I’m making sure I would. Now, where should I go next week?

RELATED:   Varekai in Manila

Want to go around Manila but don’t have a car? Or do you want to live on the edge and brave Manila’s transport system? I found a nifty guide on getting around Manila by public transport. This guide lists various tourist attractions around Manila and would definitely would be useful even to locals like me.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 5 Comments
  1. fran says:

    hi!! while blog-hopping, i landed into your blog and i enjoyed reading this entry :) lucky you! while everyone (myself included) was going nuts waiting in traffic outside of manila, you were able to enjoy the holidays back home! :) love your shots too! hehe nice ng sunset shot in ccp

  2. nina says:

    Thanks Fran! Spending the holy week in Manila wasn’t so bad pala. It’s interesting kasi there were so many food places opened last Good Friday, whereas several years ago, there were hardly any establishments open.

  3. Anna says:

    my friends picked me up at 3:00 pm, and we were at Quiapo by 3:20.

    Whoaaaaaaaaaaa!!! A great reason in itself to remain in Manila! =O

  4. nina says:

    Anna: harhar, we spent the day reminiscing the days we spent at Boracay three summers ago XD

  5. […] Park, and Eric and I took that as our cue to leave. It wasn’t long since my last visit to Luneta, but I wanted to visit again to see the gardens that were closed during Good Friday. Eric wanted to […]

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