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Historical Places

The Aguinaldo Shrine (Kawit, Cavite)

Emilio Aguinaldo has been vilified as one of history’s bad guys. In his house in Cavite,
however, only the greatness of his life and achievements take center stage. Standing at
4,864 square meters, the Aguinaldo House is located along the main road called
Camino Real, suggesting of his connections to the Spanish authorities as a member of
the principalia or the ruling elite.

Indeed, the items inside the mansion are the stuff of luxury: from the bowling alley to a
swimming pool with a secret door to the grand salon and 1924 Packard limousine—far
from its humble beginnings in the 1840s as a nipa-and-thatch structure.

From its front window, the first Philippine flag was unfurled and our independence from
Spain was proclaimed on June 12, 1898. Several renovations later, the mansion of
mixed Baroque, Malayan, and Romanesque architecture is now a museum showcasing
Aguinaldo’s most prized possessions and a colorful history presented through hologram,
diorama, and multimedia presentation.

Barasoain Church (Malolos City, Bulacan)

Few Philippine churches can equal the historical significance of Barasoain Church, also
known today as Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. Not only did it become the venue for
two Presidential inaugurations (Aguinaldo and Estrada), it was also the site where the
Malolos Constitution was drafted, the First Philippine Congress (Malolos Congress) was
convened, and the First Philippine Republic was born.

Proclaimed a National Shrine by President Marcos in 1973, Barasoain Church

complements its history with charming old-school architecture evident in its picturesque
facade and perfectly preserved wood carvings. Visit it on Sundays to attend the mass or
immerse yourself in its rich history through the light and sound museum at the second

Rizal Park and Shrine (Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte)

While Jose Rizal’s birthplace and execution site have always been part of many
educational tour itineraries, the same can’t be said for Dapitan City’s Rizal Park. In
addition to its distance from Manila, Rizal’s life in Dapitan is greatly underplayed. But a
glimpse of the park’s attractions suggests that the four years Rizal spent in exile are
just as noteworthy as the days leading to his death.

Bought using his lottery windfall, the 16 hectares of land in the seaside barangay of
Talisay holds structures and buildings (mostly replicas) that are proof of how Rizal lived
productively instead of wallowing in self-pity. Great for nature lovers and history buffs
alike, the Rizal Park and Shrine features must-see attractions like the Mi Retiro Rock, or
the heart-shaped rock where our national hero scribbled words from his poem; Casa
Cuadrada, his official residence; Casa Redonda, which served as his pupil’s dormitory;
Casa Redonda Pequena, or the chicken house; and an aqueduct made by Rizal himself
to provide irrigation for farmers.
Biak-na-Bato National Park (San Miguel, Bulacan)

Being one with nature while in direct contact with a piece of Philippine history is what
Biak-na-Bato promises to its visitors. Declared a national park in 1937 by then
President Manuel Quezon, Biak-na-Bato’s centerpiece is its magnificent cave network
where vital decisions that changed the course of Philippine history were made.

In one of these caves, Filipino revolutionary forces took refuge from the pursuing
Spaniards. It’s also here where the Malolos Constitution was signed and the short-lived
Biak-na-Bato Republic by Emilio Aguinaldo was established. Today, it’s considered one
of Bulacan’s favorite spots for eco-adventures, offering the thrill-seeker multiple
activities—from rappelling to cave exploration—that will keep one’s adrenaline pumping.

Plaza Cuartel (Puerto Princesa City, Palawan)

Save for the bronze historical marker, nothing in Plaza Cuartel, which is now a leisure
park in Palawan, suggests of its grim past. On Dec. 14, 1944, the Japanese, facing
imminent defeat, poured petroleum over the American prisoners languishing in the
underground bunkers and burned them alive. More than a hundred POWs perished in
the massacre, while only 11 survived to tell the tale.

The former garrison is now part of the plaza complex where people can have an
afternoon stroll and enjoy the view of the sea of Palawan. The picturesque Immaculate
Conception Cathedral also stands nearby.

The Luna House (Badoc, Ilocos Norte)

Ilocos Norte has a lesser known jewel often overshadowed by more popular tourist
hotspots like Bangui Windmills and Paoay Sand Dunes. Located in Barangay Garreta is
the two-storey ancestral house of the Luna brothers: the world-renowned painter Juan
Luna and the chemist-turned-general Antonio Luna.

Although it’s usually referred to as the Juan Luna Shrine, the museum holds collections
that commemorate the lives and careers of both patriots. Damaged by fire in 1861, the
house was later ceded to the government who then tasked the Department of Public
Works and Highways and the National Historical Institute with its restoration.

The Luna house is made of clay bricks and molave wood. Every item is a feast in the
eyes for both history buffs and art aficionados: from reproductions of Juan Luna’s
famous paintings to General Antonio Luna’s sword and written letters. It’s a museum
that invites you to take a peek of the Luna brothers’ lives, in the same way the Rizal
house in Calamba sheds light on our national hero’s childhood.

Sheik Karim al Makdum Mosque (Simunul, Tawi-Tawi)

With majority of Filipinos born and raised in Christian traditions, it’s easy to forget that
we have Muslim brothers and sisters further down south whose history is quite as
colorful as ours. Understanding them is the pathway toward unity, but it’s difficult to
achieve it when our history books are replete with information focusing on Christianity
and Manila inhabitants.

One way to gain a better idea of the Philippines’ Muslim faith is to travel to the exact
place where it all started—Sheik Karim al Makdum Mosque in Tubig Indangan, Simunul,
Tawi-Tawi. Originally built in 1380 with a coconut-thatched roof, it is considered as the
first and oldest mosque in the Philippines. Its four original pillars still stand today after
several attempts to remove them failed, symbolizing how Islam has deeply and
successfully penetrated the Mindanao populace.

Few meters from the mosque is the tomb of Karim, credited for introducing Islam to the
country. Some believers get some soil from the tomb for good luck, proving that our
Muslim friends are just as superstitious.

Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery (Nagcarlan, Laguna)

A chapel in Nagcarlan with a neoclassic façade more than meets the eye. In 1845, the
church was renovated by Franciscan friar Fr. Vicente Belloc, who also ordered the
construction of an octagonal cemetery made of bricks, river stone, and adobe.

The said cemetery, located two kilometers from the town center, would house the
remains of the townsfolk. An underground crypt, on the other hand, contains 36 niches
where friars and some of the most prominent personalities of the town were interred.

Today, the place is now revered as the only underground cemetery in the Philippines.
It’s also historically important: Revolutionary leaders of the Katipunan once used it as a
secret meeting place, as did Filipino fighters and guerrillas during the Philippine-
American War and WWII. A museum opposite the cemetery was recently opened to the
public to showcase artifacts and the fascinating history of the cemetery—all presented
in ways that will truly delight the senses.
MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park (Palo, Leyte)

Also known as simply Leyte Landing Memorial Park, this major tourist attraction in
Eastern Visayas has been part of every WWII enthusiast’s travel bucket list. It’s easy to
figure out why: It was the exact spot where General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his
promise summarized in three powerful words: “I shall return.” On Oct. 20, 1944, his
dramatic return started with a historic landing in Leyte Gulf, culminating in a fierce
naval battle that ended in Japanese defeat and surrender.

To commemorate the momentous event, the bronze, larger-than-life statues of

MacArthur and others were installed in a park at Barangay Candahug in Palo, Leyte.
Made by prominent sculptor Anastacio Caedo, the statues now attract tourists from all
over the country who are not only excited to take photographs but also take part in the
annual reenactment and memorial rites that celebrate the historic event.

Malinta Tunnel (Corregidor Island)

Malinta Tunnel is not for the faint of heart. Traversing the Malinta Hill, this tunnel was
originally designed to house food, ammunitions, and other supplies. During the siege of
Corregidor, however, it became the haven for thousands of men and women who
defended the place from the Japanese forces.

The tunnel, which took 10 years to complete, also served as a bomb-proof shelter for
General MacArthur’s USAFFE headquarters as well as a 1,000-bed capacity. Surviving
inside was a nightmare: The embattled Filipinos or Americans lived in a pitch-black
environment with horrible sanitation, relying only on blowers for ventilation.
To relive what they had gone through, visitors are treated with an incredible light and
sound show called “Malinta Experience,” with reenactment made even more dramatic
by the script from national artist and film director Lamberto Avellana and life-sized
sculptures made by another national artist Napoleon Abueva.

Intramuros, Manila

MANILA CATHEDRAL. Intramuros is also home to the Manila Cathedral./IMAGE Andronico del Rosario

Manila’s famed walled city has been (and will always be) a part of any history buff’s
itinerary whenever they visit the Philippines. Some of its streets and buildings may have
been modernized as needed, but it has retained what makes it stand out: the walls that
still house some of the oldest buildings in the country.

Also read: Philippine Primer’s Intramuros Feature

Make sure you visit Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, and San Agustin Church,
known as the country’s oldest church. Also, don’t bother bringing a ride to Intramuros.
The walled city is the best explored on foot or on a calesa (horse-drawn carriage).

If you’re in the area, don’t miss your chance to visit Rizal Shrine or walk through Escolta,
known as the “Queen of the Streets.” Escolta used to be what Makati is today (sans the
traffic, of course).

Vigan, Ilocos Sur

CALLE CRISOLOGO. Cobblestone streets still exist in Vigan./IMAGE Philippine Primer

If Manila has Intramuros, then Vigan is the North’s answer to historic sites. A UNESCO
World Heritage City, Vigan is one of the few Spanish-era cities that has been, and is still
being, actively preserved to retain its historic beauty. The “buildings” you will see in Vigan
are actually ancestral houses, with restorations done under strict rules imposed by the
local and national government.

Also read: Travel back in time to the historic city of Vigan, Ilocus Sur

Calle Crisologo is the one street that Vigan is famous for, so make sure that’s on your list.
However, there are still other places to see in this historic city: Bantay Church Bell Tower,
Ilocos Region Museum Complex, and Crisologo Museum being some of them. Make sure
you get your fill of empanada!

IMAGE Philippine Primer

The islands in Visayas were the first to be occupied by Spain via Ferdinand Magellan.
Cebu, in particular, is steeped in history as it was the country’s capital during the early
years of the Spanish colonization. Mactan Island is one of the first islands to be conquered
by Magellan and was rumored to be laid to rest thanks to one of Lapu Lapu’s men.

Also read: Inside Cebu: The Queen City of the South

Cebu, however, is more than just Magellan and Lapu Lapu. Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
is the country’s first and oldest fort. It was commissioned by none other than Miguel Lopez
de Legazpi, the country’s first governor-general under the flag of Spain. It has both
defended the Spaniards and helped Cebuanos learn (barracks were turned into schools)
and survive World War II (it served as an emergency hospital in 1945).
As a hub for all of Visayas, Cebu is also a great home base for those who want to explore
other historical places in Visayas, including Bohol’s Blood Compact Shrine and the
McArthur Landing Memorial National Park in Leyte.

Corregidor Island

SILENT. The Mile Long barracks in Corregidor no longer houses the military./IMAGE Philippine Primer

Speaking of World War II, nothing shows what the war did to the country much like
Corregidor Island. Located about 48 kilometers west of Manila, its position in Manila Bay
was perfect for Allied forces to hold their ground against the Japanese, though they did
surrender nearly four weeks after the fall of Bataan.

Today, Corregidor’s gun turrets are silent; its buildings, structures, and tunnels lie in ruins.
But the island still stands as a testament to the courage of those who fought in the war
on both sides. Sun Cruises is the most convenient way of getting to the island as they
have been ferrying people to and from Corregidor since 1998.
Calamba, Laguna

IMAGE The Backpack Adventures

The hometown of Dr. Jose Rizal, Calamba’s claim to historical fame is the Rizal Shrine,
the replica of the house where Jose Rizal was born on June 19, 1861. It houses a sizable
collection of Rizal memorabilia, a hologram of Rizal reading a letter addressed to his good
friend, Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt, and other interactive booths and terminals telling you
more about Rizal.

It also sits next to where Rizal was baptized: Calamba Church, and makes a good base
camp to explore the rest of the province of Laguna, including the place where Rizal spent
most of his formative years: the Alberto House, his mother’s ancestral home.

Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte

IMAGE City Government of Dapitan

If Calamba is known as Rizal’s hometown, then you can call Dapitan as the last town that
he truly lived in. Known as the Shrine City of the Philippines, it houses the Rizal Shrine
National Park. It’s also where Rizal spent his last remaining years in exile after his trip in

The national park in Brgy. Talisay is housed in an estate that Rizal once owned. It sits at
the foot of a hill and has several structures, all of which house memorabilia of Dr. Jose
Rizal. Dapitan also has other shrines dedicated to Rizal, including one of him landing on
the shores of Dapitan accompanied by guardia civil.

Baler, Aurora
THE HISTORIC BALER CHURCH. The Spaniards made their last stand here./IMAGE Tara Quismundo,
Most people know Baler, Aurora as a hotbed for surfing. Some know Baler as the
birthplace of Manuel Luis Quezon, the country’s second president, and his wife, Doña
Aurora Aragon Quezon. What most people don’t know is that there is a place within town
that holds a significant place in history that dates back to before Quezon became

Baler Church, located in front of the municipal hall, is the site of the Siege of Baler. The
siege was a battle that took place between Spanish forces holed up in the church and
Filipino forces who wanted to convince the Spaniards to surrender as their main force
was already planning to leave the Philippines.

Kawit, Cavite

FREEDOM. It’s seen by most Filipinos as the symbol of our freedom from Spanish rule: the Aguinaldo
Shrine in Kawit, Cavite./IMAGE Beth Gozar

This one should resonate well with Filipinos as well as those versed in Philippine History.
Kawit, Cavite is the site where the country was first declared free of Spanish rule;
specifically, it was done in the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the country’s
first president.

The Spanish-inspired house is also one of the tallest structures in the municipality. The
tower gives anyone who dares make the climb a 360-degree view of the entire town. It
was used by Aguinaldo to keep track of Spanish forces who dared to set foot in Kawit.

1. Rizal Park

Previously called Bagumbayan Field, Rizal Park or Luneta Park was built as a tribute to
our greatest national hero – Dr. Jose Rizal. It is one of the leading historical sites in the
Philippines where Rizal was executed by the Spanish military firing squad on December
30, 1896 because he had spread the ideals of revolution against Spanish rule.

(Read: Five Surprising Facts about the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park)

Nowadays, it is one of the major tourist attractions of Manila. The park became a favorite
spot for unwinding and socializing. It is also a place for family bonding and picnics during
Sundays and holidays.

2. Corregidor

Want to know the moving story behind the famous Corregidor Island?
Photo by Raine Medina of flickr.com

Known to be the “the Rock”, Corregidor is known for its important historical attractions.
When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, Corregidor became the headquarters of the
Allied Forces and also the seat of Philippine Commonwealth government. The huge
firearms of Corregidor which are used in support for Filipino and American defenders of
Bataan are now silent but the damage seen on buildings, structures, and tunnels in the
island continues on telling a very moving story of a war that has claimed so many lives.
A visit to this former battleground is a memorable experience, especially for those people
who value and cherish freedom and peace.

3. Intramuros
Photo by Roberto Verzo in flickr.com

Intramuros is known in history as the “Walled City” because of its most famous feature:
a nearly three-mile-long circuit of massive stone walls and fortifications that almost
completely surrounds the entire district. It is the oldest district and historic core of Manila
where old Spanish era influences are still plentiful. Photography and history lovers will
find Intramuros an interesting destination. If you visit the place, you can still feel the
Spanish ambiance and appreciate the historical landmarks and churches in the area.
Plus, visiting Intramuros is very affordable and worth your time. Going here, you can re-
experience the past in a modern light.

4. EDSA Shrine
Photo by shutterstar11 of flickr.com
The EDSA Shrine, also known as the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, and Our Lady of
EDSA, is a small church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila located at the
intersection of Ortigas Avenue and Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Quezon City.
It is a monument dedicated to the first People Power Revolution and its peaceful outcome
on December 15, 1989. It is a place that witnessed the two demonstrations that
overthrew the presidencies of Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada. This shrine is a
towering proof that fighting for freedom doesn’t have to be a blood-spattered cause.
Rather, it can be achieved through peaceful means and with no casualty.

5. Barasoain Church
Photo by ~MVI~ of flickr.com
Having earned the title as the Cradle of Democracy in the East, Barasoain Church is the
most important religious building in the Philippines.

It was founded by the Augustinian Missionaries in 1859 and served as the session hall
of Malolos Congress, the first congress in the Philippines which was held in September
15, 1898 under the presidency of Pedro Paterno. Three major events in the Philippine
history happened in this church: the convening of the First Philippine Congress
(September 15, 1898), the drafting of the Malolos Constitution (September 29, 1898 to
January 21, 1899), and the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic (January 23,

The architectural design of the church attracts and engages visitors because of the
curved façade, rose windows, and medieval bell tower. Its floral motifs and paintings of
angels and saints along the ceiling adorn the interior of the church.

6. Leyte Landing Memorial Park

Photo by JinJian at en.wikipedia
If you ever drop by Tacloban City, the Leyte Landing Memorial Park, formerly known as
the “McArthur Park,” is a must-visit destination. Remember the promise made by Gen.
Douglas McArthur “I shall return”? He kept this promise when he returned with an army
of 700 ships containing 174,000 American soldiers at Red Beach, Palo, Leyte on October
20, 1944. The “red” in Red Beach doesn’t refer to the natural color of the sand, but its
color after being drenched in blood.

Many tourists visit the park to reminisce an important event in history – the fulfilment of
Gen. McArthur’s promise to the Filipinos to come back and help them win against the
Japanese colonies. It always brings inspirational memories of how our beloved ancestors
fought for our freedom.

7. Fort Santiago
Photo by akeán2® of flickr.com
Fort Santiago, located in Intramuros, is a famous tourist destination in the Philippines.
It is a historical structure that is part of the city’s famous wall. The attraction of the site
is a museum where you can find a replica of Dr. Jose Rizal’s prison cell before he was
executed. The rest of Fort Santiago has been set up into a beautiful park. There is also
an imitation of old dungeons – dark underground chambers or cells used to confine
prisoners. You can just imagine how hard it is to be imprisoned, tortured, and executed
in one of them.

8. Mactan Shrine
Photo by Capella Boltiador of flickr.com

The Mactan Shrine, located in Mactan Island in Cebu, is made in honor of Lapu-Lapu,
Ferdinand Magellan, and the Battle of Mactan. It is also known as Liberty Shrine and it
lies on the very ground where the battle took place. The said encounter was between
the Spaniards led by Ferdinand Magellan and the locals led by Lapu–Lapu.

Ferdinand Magellan and his crew were the first people to introduce Christianity in the
Philippines. In the quest to prove that the earth is not flat, he traveled the world and
docked in Mactan, where he was eventually killed by Lapu-Lapu on April 27, 1521. Lapu-
Lapu is recognized as the first native of the archipelago to have resisted the Spanish
9. Rizal Shrine
Photo by melo99e [Picturesque Pilipinas!] of flickr.com

Rizal Shrine is an important historical place in Dapitan where Dr. Jose Rizal spent four
years in exile. He lived here as a physician, merchant, farmer, inventor, painter, sculptor,
archaeologist, linguist, grammarian, teacher, architect, poet, biologist, composer,
surveyor, and environmentalist. He was also a father and brother to all Dapitanons,
serving and helping those who needed him. No wonder Dr. Jose Rizal is considered as
the Philippine National Hero.

Rizal Shrine nowadays is one of the most attractive tourist spots in the Philippines. It
reflects Rizal’s lifestyle and how he socialized with the people around him.

10. Banaue Rice Terraces

Photo by jonrawlinson of flickr.com
How in the world could they have accomplished this amazing feat?

The Banaue Rice Terraces was made approximately 2000 years ago, carved into the
mountains by the indigenous people using only their hands and some crude equipment.
It is said that if the steps were put end to end, it would encircle half the globe. It is
considered as one of mankind's greatest engineering accomplishments.

1. Rizal Park
Image credit: Maynard Rabanal
This park, located right in the heart of the country’s capital Manila, has been called
various names: Luneta Park, Bagumbayan and Manila Kilometer Zero. Rizal Park was
named after the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal, who was executed there by the
Spanish military firing squad after spreading his revolutionary ideas against the Spanish

Address: Roxas Blvd Ermita, Barangay 666 Zone 72, Metro Manila

2. Calle Crisologo
Image credit: Obra19-Jojo Deladia
This famous 500-metre cobblestone street in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur is one of the best
displays of Spanish influence in the country. Stretching across only five blocks, the calle
(street) is lined with old heritage houses of Filipino-Chinese traders who were prominent
back in the days.The houses here are characterised by thick walls, red roofs, huge
doors and capiz shell windows.

Address: Calle Crisologo, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

3. Leyte Landing Monument

Image credit: Ryme26
Also known as the MacArthur Park, this 6.78-hectare war memorial commemorates
General Douglas MacArthur’s fulfillment to the Filipino people of “I shall return”. The
statue is where he made his historic landing which also signified the start of his
campaign to help free the Philippines from Japanese occupation back in 1944. Red
Beach, where the park is located, was named as such not because of the sand but
because of the colour the sea supposedly turned into after blood was spilt on it during
the war.

Address: Red Beach, Palo, Leyte

Also read: A Simple Travel Guide to Leyte: What You Need to Know Before Your Trip

4. Sandugo Shrine
Image credit: Seth Nimbosa
Sandugo referred to the blood compact that took place between the Spanish explorer
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the chieftain of Bohol, Datu Sikatuna, back in 1565.
Sandugo means “one blood” in the Visayan dialect and was performed to seal the
friendship between the two leaders. It was considered to be the first ever treaty of
friendship between the Filipinos and the Spaniards.

Address: J.P Inting Street, Tagbilaran City, Bohol

5. Fort Santiago
Image credit: Leoviernes1
This citadel was first built by the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and is a
part of the walled city of Manila called Intramuros. Its prison walls witness the loss of
lives during the Spanish Colonial Period and the Second World War. The country’s
national hero was also imprisoned here before he was executed back in 1896 at the
now Rizal Park.

Address: Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Also read: DIY Walking Tour in the Walled City of Intramuros: Top 8 Attractions to Visit

6. Fort San Pedro

Image credit: Raschid Salting
Another military structure built under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi is the
Fuerte de San Pedro in Cebu. The original structure, which was made of wood, was
immediately put up after their arrival to help keep away the Muslim raiders in the area. It
was the centre of the first Spanish settlement in the country and, in the 19th century, the
fort was attacked by Filipino revolutionaries who used it as their stronghold during the
Philippine Revolution.

Address: Plaza Independencia, Cebu City

7. Mactan Shrine
Image credit: Ipepot
The Mactan Shrine, or the Lapu-Lapu Shrine, is a 20-metre bronze statue of the native
leader, Lapu-Lapu, who was the one who defeated the Spanish soldiers and killed the
Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan back in 1521. The event is now famously
referred to as the Battle of Mactan.

Address: Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu

8. Corregidor Island
Image credit: Leoviernes1
Corregidor Island is known for its many historical significance in the country. For one, it
became the the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth Government in 1941. It also
became the headquarters of the Allied Forces during Japanese occupation in the
Philippines in 1942. Later that year, the Battle of Corregidor took place in the island, as
a culmination of the Japanese campaign to conquer the Philippine government. A lot of
Filipino, American and Japanese lives were lost during the battle as the island was the
last remaining obstacle that will allow the Japanese to have full control of Manila Bay.

Address: Corregidor Island, Manila Bay, Cavite

9. Jose Rizal Shrine

Image credit: Ric Canizares

The Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, is the
farm site where the country’s national hero was exiled for four years after being accused
by the Spanish authorities for plotting the Philippine Revolution in Manila. Also known
as the Rizal Park and Shrine, it was established in 1940 and was declared a protected
landscape covering 439 hectares in 2000.

Address: Bgry. Talisay, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte

10. Basilica del Santo Niño

Image credit: Allan Jay Quesada

No visit in Cebu is ever complete without paying tribute to Santo Niño. The basilica was
founded in 1565 and is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the entire country. The
spot was where Miguel Lopez de Legazpi found the image of the Child Jesus. It was
also the same statue that Ferdinand Magellan gave to the wife of Rajah Humabon of
Cebu, after they were baptized to Christianity in 1521.

Address: Santo Niño Chapel, Cebu City

Also read: How I Spent a Smashing 4-Day Getaway to Cebu and Bohol

11. Sultan Kudarat Monument

Image credit: Bernardo Arellano III
The monument of the great Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat stands proud right in
front of the Provincial Capitol Building in the province of Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao.
The sultan was known as a Filipino hero who fought against the Spanish invaders and
defended his Islamic faith. Because the Spaniards could not conquer his territory, the
Spanish governor and the Sultan signed a pact which led to many years of peace in the
area. He was also considered one of the greatest leaders in Mindanao as he was able
to unite the Muslims from Lanao, Cotabato, Sulu, Davao, Zamboanga and North

Address: Provincial Capitol Building, Sultan Kudarat

12. EDSA Shrine

Image credit: Patrick Roque
Compared to all the other historical Philippine destinations in the list, the EDSA Shrine
is connected to a more recent event in the country’s history. The shrine was built only in
1989 and now stands to commemorate the two People Power Revolutions that took
place in the country. The first People Power ousted the dictatorship of Ferdinand
Marcos under Martial Law while the second one ousted Joseph Estrada from power in
1Calle Crisologo

Image Credit: Jlgavino via Flickr

This rather short 500-meter street at Vigan City in Ilocos Sur is among the best heritage
spots the country has from the Spaniards. The calle only stretches five blocks, but it is lined
with heritage houses. The houses were owned by prominent Chinese-Filipino families back
in the days. It’s literally a walk down memory lane!

READ: Touring Vigan City Destinations On A Budget

2Banaue Rice Terraces

Image Credit: Andrew and Annemarie via Flickr

Referred by many as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces is one of
the historical places in the Philippines that is man-made! The 2,000-year-old attraction
carved by the indigenous people into the mountains of Ifugao. Soaring at around 1,500
meters above sea level, the Banaue Rice Terraces were built entirely by hand and with very
minimal tools. It deeply reflects our rice culture and the incredible amount of dedication
Filipinos have.
3Rizal Park

Image Credit: Maynard Rabanal via Wikimedia Commons

Named after the country’s national hero, Rizal Park (also called Luneta Park) is an urban
park at Kilometer 0 Roxas Boulevard near Intramuros, Manila. Long before the monument,
the park was part of the city called Bagumbayan (“New Town” in English). Exactly 100
meters northwest of the monument, José Rizal was executed by the Spanish military firing
squad. Back in the day, he spread his revolutionary ideas that led to the liberation of the
Philippines. In the base of his monument is where his remains are kept.
4Fort Santiago
Image Credit: Redcosmonaut via Wikimedia Commons

Fort Santiago is a significant part of the Walled City of Manila known as Intramuros. It
served as a defense fortress during the Spanish colonial period. Dr. José Rizal was
imprisoned here before his execution in 1896. Many American and Filipino troops were
locked in the prison dungeons and left drowning during the Japanese occupation in World
War II. Now, Fort Santiago offers carefully manicured plazas and houses the Rizal Shrine
Museum. The museum the same building where Rizal stayed, making it another historical
place in the Philippines worth visiting.

5EDSA Shrine

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EDSA may be notorious for its traffic, but it certainly holds a lot more in its history than just
cars and buses. Originally built to commemorate the People Power Revolution (EDSA I)
that ousted former President Ferdinand Marcos, the small Catholic church is called the
Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA. It honors the peaceful victory and
freedom from dictatorship. In 2001, the same shrine served again as a site for another
peaceful demonstration called EDSA II that toppled former President Joseph Estrada.

6Magellan’s Cross

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Among all historical places in the Philippines, Magellan’s Cross may be the oldest of all.
This cross is housed in a stone rotunda right in front of Cebu City Hall along Magallanes
Street. It encases the original cross that Ferdinand Magellan erected in Cebu upon his
arrival in the Philippines in 1521. Although Magellan is considered an enemy to the natives,
he did bring Christianity into the country which is why a shrine was built in his honor.
7Sandugo Shrine

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Bohol isn’t just well-known for its beautiful Chocolate Hills but also for being a historical
place in the Philippines significant to the Spanish era. Sandugo, or one blood in Visayan,
refers to the blood compact performed between Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu
Sikatuna in 1565. This pact is considered the first ever treaty of friendship made between
Filipinos and Spaniards.
8Corregidor Island

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Corregidor Island served a lot of significant roles throughout the country’s history. Partly
because of its location right at the entrance of Manila Bay, only the most important seaport
in the Philippines. It served as a support site to the homecoming Spanish galleons and a
defense fortress during the Spanish colonial period. The island became one of the
Regular American Army posts. It was called Fort Mills. This led to even heavier
fortifications of the island. During WWII, the island fortress was taken by the Japanese, but
it was recaptured through the bloody Battle of Corregidor led by General Douglas
9José Rizal Shrine

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José Rizal was first sent into exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte before going on to
become the country’s national hero. he was first sent into exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del
Norte. Rizal was accused of organizing a rebellion and plotting the Philippine revolution.
There, he bought a farm lot and helped a lot of locals in their livelihood. He also worked as
a rural physician, and even met his wife, Josephine Bracken. Now, Rizal Park and Shrine is
considered a protected landscape area. It is one of our many historical places in the
10Leyte Landing Memorial National Park

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This 6.78-hectare war memorial commemorates the historic landing of General Douglas
MacArthur at Leyte Gulf in 1944. Before coming back to the Philippines, MacArthur dropped
his famous line “I shall return.” This was his promise to the Filipinos of coming back to
liberate the country from Japanese occupation.

History buff or not, we all ought to know our past and the reason we are where we are. We
hope this travel bucket list helps you become a smarter traveler by discovering the historical
places in the Philippines. Learn how Filipinos of long ago lived, and how and why they
fought against the oppressors for us to have the level of freedom we enjoy right now.

List of Philippine historic sites

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 Dilao, former name for Paco, Manila

 Fort Santiago
 Vigan
 Rizal Shrine
 Intramuros
 Malacañan Palace
 EDSA Shrine
 Corregidor
 Mendiola
 Zapote Bridge
 Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
 Kadiwa Park
 Biak na Bato National Park, San Miguel, Bulacan
 Jones Bridge
 Mount Samat, Bataan
 Luneta Park
 Krus ni Magellan, Cebu
 Barasoain Church, Malolos, Bulacan
 Aguinaldo Shrine
 Lion's Head