Tag Archive: Heritage Town



It’s been over 400 years yet the fort in Galle still manages to enchant its visitors. The Portuguese started it (16th century) and the Dutch fortified it (17th century). The old town of Galle and its fortifications – more commonly called Galle Fort – lying on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site. The ramparts made of granite stones and corals are its biggest attraction, along with its lighthouse, which unfortunately had too many scaffoldings at the time we visited to render a good photo.

The old town within the walls has the charm of an old European village combined with East Asian architecture. One finds multi-religious and multi-ethnic influences with robed men roaming the streets and locals sneaking in and out of mosques and churches. The settlers include Portuguese, Dutch, British, Sinhalese and Moors. All these add character to the Old Town of Galle. I can spend an entire day here walking aimlessly — on ramparts and along the narrow alleys — sneaking in and out of museums, quaint restaurants, cafes, the art galleries, handicraft and gem stores. If only we had time 😔

(If i knew we’d have a lousy lunch, I could have skipped it and walked around town instead, maybe while licking an ice cream bar)

Photo Credit: Annabelle

The signages I found were enough to intrigue me about living here. I’ve read half the population are Moors. The mosque I passed walking towards the lighthouse is most charming in its all-white exterior. So are the structures in Mediterranean colors with interesting wood carvings all around town. So colorful, just like its history. I can only feel thankful that this town was restored and preserved even after it was badly hit by a tsunami on that Boxing Day in 2004.

Art and culture, as well as religious traditions, flourished here. Peaceful co-existence and harmony. I would love to stay a few days here. Perhaps meet anew that crazy jumper who poses for a buck. Free if you’re a young, charming lady. Ahem. Walking mindlessly, enjoying the seascape and the colonial houses with gables and verandahs. The streets have very curious names : Lighthouse, Church, Pedlar (peddler?), Hospital Streets. For sure, it would be very hard to get lost here. I even read that dining here can be a foodie’s adventure. (Not our luck) The mixed bag of hotels, coffee shops, jewelry stores, tea shops is an enchanting medley of European, Moorish and Asian influences. No wonder this town attracted many artists, photography buffs, designers and literary figures.

If Nuwara Eliya is Sri Lanka’s “Little England”, this must be their “Little Holland & Portugal”

We spent way too little time here, methinks. We’ve seen many monuments, the former moat surrounding the walks, the drawbridge, clock tower, Dutch Reformed Churches, and more bastions — on a bus. The bygone colonial era flashing across bus window panes in an area small enough to be walkable. 😭 A few likewise went for a stroll but had to head back to where we had our unforgettable lunch. Oh, Sri Lanka. I’m NOT done with you. Not just yet!

Not done! Not yet. 😭😭😭

No, he’s not one of the Crazy Jumpers. Just one photography nut. Can’t blame him. He’s married to one.

It’s another heritage town just a couple of hour’s drive south from Manila. Easily, a day trip that’s easily combined with neighboring towns in Laguna just as equally rich in art, culture and history. Many pre-Hispanic treasures enshrined in the Pila Museum attest to Pila being one of the earlier settlements in the country.

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Municipio

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17th century Pila Church

 

 

We were surprised to find this little-known Plaza Mayor in this old town. The colonial influence is evident here where a 200 year-old church, a Municipio (Town Hall), and several ancestral, heirloom houses and old trees line the Plaza. The National Historical Commission has declared Pila as a historical landmark in the league of Vigan (Ilocos Sur), Silay (Negros Occidental) and Taal (Batangas). It’s a wonder very little is known of the place and that this historic town is not top of mind among local tourists.

 

 

 

 

Mercifully, Pila was spared from the bombing raids run by US troops back in 1945 to flush out the Japanese Army. The Church, the Convent, and many of the old buildings and houses of illustrados and prominent families clustered around the Plaza remain standing to this day.

 

 

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Who Knows Tomas Pinpin?

 

If you ask me, I only know it as a street in Binondo where a favorite and oldest restaurant is located. Yes, I’m talking of Toho Antigua Panciteria. (Another restaurant, Ambos Mundos, claims to be the oldest restaurant, but this is another story) I bet I’m not the only one in this sorry predicament.

 

So, who is Tomas Pinpin? This eminent Filipino is responsible for the country’s very first Tagalog dictionary. He ran a printing press in Pila, Laguna which printed the first local dictionary as early as 1613. Of interest is the fact that this printed material pre-dates the very first printed book in America. Truly, Pila has so much to be proud of!

 

 

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From History Lessons To Amazing Race To Teleserye

 

 

Several scenes from the Amazing Race were shot here. Of late, the teleserye “Be Careful With My Heart” likewise shoots scenes here for this big TV series hit. In particular, the “San Nicolas” hometown of the leading character “Maya” is actually this quaint town of Pila, Laguna. Just off a corner from the Plaza is “Pards Chibugan” — the local eatery business ran by Maya’s family. For sure, these put Pila back on the map as many locals visit the place for its TV or teleserye value. 

 

 

Quite a sudden takeoff from all that history bit. 😉

 

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