Adding sparkle to Intramuros
Right in the heart of Manila, is one of the nerve centers of the country. Intramuros is not only a bastion of history and culture. it also shelters within its walls a fast growing commercial activity of private businesses, government offices, universities, and street hawkers.
Its varied and colorful physical assets make it very attractive and interesting to tourists, both domestic and foreign. In fact, the hawkers’ stalls define a distinctive style of settling in the streets. These vendors, a lot of which are not even registered with the appropriate government offices, are mostly women and plant themselves on specific locations, making it easy for their customers to locate them for the specific items they sell.
Aware of the importance of these vendors who have become a permanent fixture in the area, and adding to the enticing character of the Walled City, some agencies have initiated moves towards further improving the aesthetic value of this cultural tourist attraction.
The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), through its ACERCA Program, has teamed up with the Intramuros Administration and the Design Center of the Philippines in launching the “Rolling Manila” project. Food carts and stalls inside Intramuros have been redesigned using sustainable materials, making them more attractive to tourists and more efficient for their owners to use.
The active partnership of these three agencies ensures the creation of designs that will effectively work for the upliftment of the Filipino street-food vendors, without forgetting the role they play in the kaleidoscope of cultural diversity that our country is known for. Moreover, this creative collaboration is in sync with the government’s efforts in adopting strategies to boost Philippine economy.
Intramuros Administration has made available a location mapping of these vendors and a thorough research on their practical needs, and has ensured the vendors’ total commitment to this project. Design Center of the Philippines has taken into consideration the current tours inside the Walled City and the Philippine street-food culture.
Of course, their research also included visits to and interaction with tricycle manufacturers, including the Sarao Jeepney Factory, for a deeper understanding of the city’s landscape and transportation system. Visits were also made to Divisoria, Tondo, Quiapo and Recto to see how other stalls and food carts have been configured, and for sourcing of possible materials needed for the new design.
The prototype of the redesigned carts and stalls were done in partnership with Escuella Taller de Filipinas and the students of Lyceum of the Philippines University, and the new carts were launched during ceremonies at Plaza Sto. Tomas.
Mercy de Sahagun, chief for Finance and Administrative Division of the Intramuros Administration, gave the Opening Remarks in the Program that followed, while relevant messages were delivered by Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Samahan ng Mga Nagkakaisang Manininda President Ronilo Revuelta, and the Embassy of Spain’s First Secretary of Cultural Affairs Guillermo Escribano.
With this very laudable project of the aforementioned agencies, there is no doubt that Intramuros’ attraction to tourists from here and abroad will now have an added dimension that is uniquely Filipino. To borrow from Nick Joaquin, “Intramuros! The old Manila. The original Manila. The Noble and Ever Loyal City...” sparkles anew!
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