You Don't Have to Walk in the Heat in This Quiapo Tour

Go around in an air-conditioned van.

( Walking tours in the Metro, especially in the historic city of Manila, aren't as scarce as they once were. We now have biking trips on bamboo-made bicycles around Intramuros, a tour that's driven by solving puzzles and finding clues ala-Amazing Race, and even a Halloween-themed one every November. But a growing problem is the inconvenience of walking around in the heat and intermittent rains in our country (thanks, climate change). Bukas Quiapo Tours, formerly known as Ikot Quiapo, solves this with a hop-on hop-off van service and tour around this old district of Manila. Trips are scheduled every other Saturday at 10 a.m.

San Sebastian Basilica, an all-steel building, was designed in the Neo-gothic style at a time when most Spanish-era churches all had Baroque influences.
PHOTO BY Vincent Coscolluela

Bukas Quiapo Tours is part of the efforts of the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation to save the century-old Basílica Menor de San Sebastián. It is community-based, which means that Quiapo residents serve as tour guides and pit stops are considered pillars in the district—literally and metaphorically. Every tour directly provides livelihood opportunities to local guides, supports local businesses, and donates to the restoration and maintenance of various heritage sites.

“Quiapo still carries a negative reputation that overshadows many other aspects of this historic neighborhood. These tours are our way to share the real stories of its people, food, art, and history, while giving back to the community here today,” Samantha Pacardo, Communications and Fundraising Manager of San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, tells

Bukas Quiapo Tours also includes food tasting in its itinerary. Courtesy of Bukas Quiapo Tours
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Tour includes stopovers at Plaza Miranda, Quiapo Church, Quinta Market, Muslim Town, Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, Maglaqui Talyer, Hidalgo Street—and, of course, a full experience of San Sebastian Basilica and its otherwise-private-access towers. In case you don't know yet, the Basilica is famous not only for being an all-steel church, but also for housing 140 figural paintings by Filipino artisans—mostly college students at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, the country’s first art school, which eventually became the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts.

For food, halal dishes are served for lunch to represent the local Muslim community. You also get to sample Excelente's Chinese ham, Vienna Bakery's hopia, and Quinta's halo-halo. But the icing on top is the fact that guests are brought from one place to another through air-conditioned vans so you don’t have to worry about the sun and the rain.

Quiapo Church welcomes hundreds of thousands of devotees every Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9.
PHOTO BY Hana Yamada / Flickr

Bukas Quiapo Tours has always been conducting trips—mostly as private tours or event-specific programs—since September 2018, but has only gained momentum in April 2019 with their regular Saturday tours. Regular price per person is at P1,700, while promo price is at P1,500 per person when you book for two or more people. The more, the merrier as they say.

The local government is also doing its part in conserving heritage sites, especially now that new Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has expressed his rejection of "photobombers." "Wag magkamali ‘yong mga negosyante sa atin. Don't get me wrong, okay po ako sa pagtatayo ng building, pero pag heritage ang tatamaan ninyo, pasensiya na po kayo. Kung ano lang po ang allowed sa inyo ng batas, ‘yon lang ang ibibigay ko. Walang special permit ‘yon," he told DZMM on July 4. He was talking about the plans for the construction of a 37-storey-commercial building behind Quiapo Church, which was approved by the administration of Erap Estrada. Documents for the high-rise building and all other structures within Manila are up for review.


The next Bukas Quiapo Tours schedules are on July 13, July 27, August 10, and August 24. Price per head is at P1,700. For more information, follow Bukas Quiapo Tours on Facebook.

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