Letting the stamps tell the stories

The Manila Metropolitan Theater.  The Post Office Building.  Intramuros.  These are just some of the places in Manila that we pass by almost every day but don't really pay attention to.  Places whose history goes way back to the early 1900's (or even earlier) and whose significance Filipinos have forgotten. And, shamefully enough, I'm one of those who have become detached to the historical significance of these buildings.

But, luckily, I got the chance to revisit these places and the rich stories that make them Manila's landmarks.  Thanks to Lawrence Chan's Postal Heritage Walking Tour.

This isn't your ordinary walking tour, though.  Lawrence is a stamp collector.  And using his collection of stamps as a map to these hidden gems of the past, Lawrence does not only revive the history of Manila but the art of philately as well.

And the best thing about the tour is--IT'S FREE.  All you have to bring is your enthusiasm and genuine desire to learn.
You see, while for other people, walking tours have become a money-making venture, for Lawrence, it has become an advocacy.  While ordinary history professors would make you snooze in the middle of their lectures, Lawrence passion and enthusiasm translates through his.

Let the walking tour begin. Mr. Lawrence Chance starting off his tour with a brief orientation.

The group met at the plaza in front of the Post Office Building in Manila around 1:00pm.  While waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I had a little chat with Lawrence.  Apparently, he, along with the other members of the Filipinas Stamp Collectors' Club have been doing this as early as 1994.  But because they don't do it for business, it's not advertised as much as the other walking tours.

After a few minutes of small talk, the group was finally complete.  So we began walking towards our first destination:  the Manila Metropolitan Theater.

First stop on Lawrence Chan's stamp map.

Built in the 1920's, the MET is an art deco building designed by Filipino architect Juan De Guzman Arellano.  It used to be the center of Manila's glitz and glamour during the time when Manila was still considered as the "Milan of Asia".  It became the place for cultural entertainment such as zarzuelas, operas, and variety shows.

But during the liberation of Manila from the Japanese occupation in the 1940's, the MET was severely damaged.  And while the former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given the National Commission on Culture and Arts P50M for its restoration, the MET is yet to see itself in its former glory.

So far, the only obvious restoration that has been made are the newly reupholstered theater seats.

After exploring the MET's nooks and crannies (and getting bitten by about a gazillion mosquitoes), Lawrence guided us to our next stop:  the Manila Central Post Office.

Up next on the stamp map:  The Manila Central Post Office.

Built also in the 1920's, the MCPO was designed by the Filipino architect, Juan de Guzman Arellano.  It was severely damaged in the World War II but unlike the MET, it was beautifully restored.  And while majority of the Filipinos (me included) have moved on from the snail mail era (what with the internet and all), the MCPO makes for a rich historical landmark.

And, as expected, the MCPO has become the unofficial headquarters for stamp collectors. 

After a short lecture on the history of philately in the Philippines, snacks were served at the MCPO Annex Building.  There, we got the chance to mingle with the other members of the tour.

We were supposed to go to Intramuros next.  But because of the weather, the tour had to be cut short.  While I would've wanted to hear what historical tidbits Lawrence had to say about Intramuros, I was slightly glad that the tour was over for the day because all the walking had already taken a toll on my legs.  Plus, it gives me a reason to join Lawrence Chan's next Postal Heritage Walking Tour :)

The Manila explorers.


The Manila Postal Heritage Tour
Contact Person:  Lawrence Chan
Tel. Nos.:  +63919-3901671
Email:  L_rence_2003@yahoo.com


  1. Hey I love tours and art and history.. :-) Great post, i just might go check it out!

  2. go go :) since it's for free, they only do the tour once a month. you can text lawrence for the reservation. it's a good experience. and lawrence's passion is infectious.

  3. interesting! but i dont think i can get T to go to these tours :))

    stamps!!! childhood memories! i was an avid stamp collector, too. i remember finding rare 1 centavo ones and those stamps from the japanese era. only to lose them when they renovated my room. which reminds me.. better look for my stamp albums!

  4. "but i dont think i can get T to go to these tours :))"--> but why??? :)

    yes, look for them! they still might be worth something. when we were in the post office building, they were exchanging stamps the way we exchanged stationaries back then.

  5. This is interesting - history told through stamps and post! I'm all for exploring your own city, it totally opens it up for you in a different way and I believe it makes you appreciate it more! And well, it's still good for your legs, 'cause it can definately be considered a workout ;-)

  6. true! textbooks can make history seem really boring but when explored this way, it can be really really interesting. plus you get to "relive" history where it really happened :)

    oh and yes, the workout's a bonus :p

  7. Hey, I wanna go with you on your next walking tour! Interesting :)

  8. sige, sige, i'll let you know when :)

  9. This is so interesting!! I dunno if The BF would be up for this, but I'll try to convince him, haha. I wish they'd restore The Met already!!

    Re Ristorante delle Mitre, no it wasn't crowded when we were there. :-)

  10. MANILA GIRL: you should try it! you'll be fascinated with the rich history manila has to offer but at the same time, it'll make you realize what a waste our historical landmarks are becoming because of neglect.

  11. I've always loved how the manila metropolitan theater looked. Very beautiful. I'm so happy they are reopening it.


  12. hi fickle cattle! yes, it's hauntingly beautiful. i just hope they're able to restore it back to its former glory.

    thanks for dropping by!

  13. every time you see a movie, you donate P1 for the restoration of the Met. i don't know why it's still in the state it's in.

  14. really? i didn't know that. if that's the case then WTF?!

  15. wow! panalo yung mga chicks sa picture!

  16. thanks a lot for this Manilla-tour,I really enjoyed it:-)))


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