Starting at Escolta and go where our feet take us!

It's good that people like Carlos Celdran of Walk This Way Tours are even making an effort to educate people on the grandeur that was Old Manila. The truth is that Manila was a transplanted Europe, and WWII destroyed all that. But more on character with our wanderlust, we decide that the best way to explore the city would be able to pick a spot on which we would plant our feet on the ground, and just wing it walking around the city, making turns of it felt right, taking note of street sigris, old buildings, slices of life, and overheard conversations.

The decaying building near Escolta, the El Hogar Filipino, built in 1914, was a financial powerhouse in its day. The stunning architectural details are still intact despite its sad state. You can make like a 1930s number cruncher in a crisp white suit here.

If you were a man of taste, you went to Escolta, parked your Studebaker on the curb, and checked out Heacock's for hats or canes pr any of your gentleman's sartorial needs.

You'd watch a movie at Capitol, your suit cutting a dashing silhouette on the art deco facade.

Loitering at Escolta, amd ending up in the streets of Binondo, two days before the Chinese New Year.

Backpedaling to Chinatown, looking for the estero that served the best cheap chow in town. Turning back and walking on until reaching Quiapo Church. At the Feast of the Black Nazarene, no space would be available here, only waves of people.

Pedaling a real Japanese bicycle in a sideswipe-free zone!

The World Bank had a hand in this. Yes, the same financial institution that drives countries' economies by remote control granted $1.3 million to Marikina through their Global Environment Facility. To their credit, the shoe capital first thought up the idea of including bikes in the mainstream of public transportation in the city and had earmarked their own budget for it, and it so happened the World Bank was willing to invest in bikes. So now Marikina has already constructed 52 kilometers of bike lanes, with real pavement and thermoplastic white lines, lined with trees and well away from death by sideswipe.

Try to bike from the Marikina-Antipolo border down to the Marikina River, where the once trashy banks are now lined with jogging paths, trees and park benches. This is by far the best place to bike in the city.

Now it makes perfect sense to abandon any form of motorized transport and use the humble bike in any part of the city. With bike lanes connecting you to important parts of Marikina, right up to LRT Santolan station (which will then take you all the way to Recto), who needs gas?

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