"I can't change the way Manila looks, but I can change the way you look at Manila," says top Manila tour guide, Carlos Celdran. He gives Oggie Ramos the lowdown on his favorite haunts in the city (Inflight, February-March 2010).
While not part of Manila, Corregidor is within sight of the city near Manila Bay. This three-mile-long island flanking the provinces of Bataan and Cavite, played a vital role in the Filipinos’ last stand against the Japanese forces during World War II, and is a veritable museum of war ruins, described by Carlos as “the Philippine version of Angkor Wat, the evidence of a lost empire.”
The Light and Sound Show at the Malinta Tunnel depicting a series of World War II events is a must-see. For visitors staying overnight, the Night Lateral Visit, which gives a tour of the 1,000-bed hospital area inside Malinta Tunnel’s unexplored side, is an interesting and eerie experience. Mornings on the island is a joy for birdwatchers who might spot white-collared kingfishers, zebra doves, among other birds. Try the 455-foot long and 40-foot high zipline connecting Corregidor Inn to South Beach.
Sun Cruises makes daily trips to Corregidor. Call +632/ 834 6857 to 58 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
From time to time, Carlos Celdran hosts “Rock Out Tour,” an overnight tour that covers visits to the island’s historic sites and museums, ghost-hunting and trail hikes.
2 CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES (CCP)
Built in 1966 by then-President Ferdinand Marcos as a venue for promoting and preserving Filipino arts and culture, the CCP Main Building was designed by National Artist for Architecture, Leandro Locsin. After more than 40 years, it remains a significant Manila landmark and center for cultural and art performances.” The CCP has a permanent art collection that includes the works of such luminary artists as Victorio Edades, Cesar Legaspi, Vicente Mananansala, Napoleon Abueva and Fernando Zobel, among others.
The CCP is open from Tuesday to Friday, 10:00am-6:00pm. Call the Theater Operations Department at +632/ 833 2125; tour cover galleries, museums, exhibit halls, theater venues and other related spaces • The CCP Museum follows the same operating hours. http://culturalcenter.gov.ph/
Related: Mabuhay Tour Guide Yael Fernandez's Top Three Museum Picks in Manila
3 WHITEMOON BAR
Best for a late afternoon drink while watching the Manila Bay sunset. Tucked at the Sunset Quay Mall of the Manila Ocean Park, White Moon Bar is a chic open-air lounge offering a laid-back vibe and spectacular Manila Bay sunset view.
Located at the second level, Sunset Quay Mall of the Manila Ocean Park, Boardwalk, behind the Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila
4 IMELDA TOUR
Carlos Celdran's “Living La Vida Imelda!” tour takes the visitor back to the 1970s when the former First Lady, Imelda Marcos, known for her 3,000 pairs of shoes, portrayed by the press as a symbol of the Marcos regime’s excesses, captured the national consciousness. The trip includes an architectural tour of the finest buildings of National Artist for Architecture, Leandro Locsin, which includes the iconic Cultural Center of the Philippines. Along the way, Carlos analyzes the turbulent, controversial 70s as seen through the life and ambitions of Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
5 CLUB MWAH
It’s the gay take of Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace and New York’s Studio 54, with glammed up transvestites impersonating famous stars and singers. “Who wouldn’t want to see a chorus line of transvestites singing Broadway tunes while sipping some bubbly in a tigerskin chair?” asks Celdran. Enjoy “Bedazzled,” an original dance/musical comedy show enhanced by special lighting and stage set design. Dance at the psychedelic dance floor or sing like a diva at the club’s VIP room.
Club Mwah is located at the 3rd Floor of The Venue Tower, 652 Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City. Tel: +632/ 535 7943 or 532 2826
Also read: Tour Guide Ivan Man Dy's Five Favorite Haunts in Metro Manila
6 BISTRO REMEDIOS
Lonely Planet listed Bistro Remedios as a place for barbecues and bulalo (bone marrow soup) but Carlos recommends ordering the more exotic fried crickets to go with deep fried beef tadyang (crispy ribs). This is the place for authentic Kapampangan food. Singers serenade you at the table. Staples include the crispy camaru (crickets) and betute (stuffed frog).
Located at 1911 M. Adriatico Street, Remedios Circle, Malate. Tel: +632/ 523 9153
7 CUBAO X
Carlos refers to Cubao X as “the epicenter of Manila’s youthquake and indie art scene, Manila’s hipster wasteland with fashion boutiques, bars, art galleries and an indie cinema house.” Tucked in an alley known before its rechristening as Marikina Shoe Expo, Cubao X lies at the fringes of the bright and gleaming commercial establishments of Araneta Center. Go on a Friday night or the weekend for live bands, talks, storytelling, and poetry reading, among other activities.
About Carlos Celdran
He'd rather be called a performance artist but Carlos Celdran is more known as one of the best travel guides of Manila. He started out as a tour guide of the Philippine Heritage Conservation Society and the American Women's Club before establishing Celdran Tours. Celdran's themed tours include wildly entertaining shows that are part theater, part history class, with Celdran himself clad in anything from colonial Spanish attire to bell-bottom pants.
To contact Celdran, call +632/ 909 2021 or email email@example.com. Visit www.celdrantours.blogspot.com for future announcements.