Glimpse from the Philippines Past in Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is part of the walled city in Intramuros, Manila that took us back in time of the Spanish Colonization, American Colonial Period, World War II and memorabilia of the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. It still stands strong as a faithful reminder to the Filipinos of the dark past and bright future. It is one of the few structures left of the past since Manila was the 2nd most devastated city during World War II.

Fort Santiago


Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

Inside Fort Santiago, we saw footsteps of Rizal from Fort Santiago to Rizal Park (Luneta), where he was shot by the Spaniards. We also visited the Rizal Museum, where we learned more about the life and works of Dr. Jose Rizal. He became the national hero of the Philippines simply because he fought for reforms and freedom in a more humble and peaceful but strong and effective way through his writings (novels: El Felibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere; and essays) rather than through the use of force or revolution or aggression while he was studying medicine in Spain. Also, through his writings, he exposed the immorality of the Spanish colonial rule. Because of this, he was then arrested, exiled, tried, convicted and executed by public firing squad on December 30, 1896 when he came home; and about 2 years after his execution, the Philippines were liberated from the Spanish Regime.

Footsteps of Dr Jose Rizal

Rizal Museum

Rizal Museum

Rizal Museum

While strolling around the place, I have learned that:

  • Fort Santiago was built by the Spaniards in 1571. This place is one of the most important sites during the Spanish colonial times as it served several functions such as a fortress, a place for incarcerations, torture, and death to some Filipinos especially those who dared to oppose the Spaniards during their 333 years of rule in the Philippines.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

  • Dr Jose P. Rizal, was detained there before he was executed by firing squad on the 30th of December 1896.

A group photo with the statue of Rizal.

When Rizal was executed by the Spaniards.

  • When America took us from Spain during the Spanish-American War, the fort was used as headquarters for the US-Army. They first raised the American flag there to mark the start of the American rule that lasted for about 48 years.

Fort Santiago

  • During World War II and after the attack on the Pearl Harbor, Japanese captured the fort and invaded the Philippines for about 4 years. They used the fort as prison and torture sites where thousands of Filipinos and Americans men, women and children were tortured and killed.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

  • Today, the fort is part of the historical park of the country. Several arts and music festivals are being held throughout the years by some non-profit organization. It is now managed by the Intramuros Administration, an agency attached to the Department of Tourism.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

As we walked further up, we saw dungeons which served as execution chambers. This dungeons are just above sea level and when the tide rises the prisoners get flooded and drowned to death.

The dungeon

My family and I really loved the place – beautiful architecture, so much history here between different countries, beautiful artifacts, stunning view, and cool breeze. To me, it was such a privilege to show the place to my family as it’s so nice to look back at our history and to appreciate and honor those who fought for the freedom of our country. Certainly, Fort Santiago is definitely worth a visit.

with my sisters inside Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Small children can roam around, explore and see for themselves an important part of our (the Philippines’) history.
  • Picnic is allowed in the area.
  • It is open daily from 8AM till 6PM with a reasonable entrance fees – Php 75 ($0.75) for an adult and Php 50 ($0.50) for a child.










Taste of Home: Korean-style Pork Meatballs

I love meatballs – may it be pork meatballs, beef meatballs, chicken meatballs! Whether it is served as an appetizer or a main dish, with pasta or steamed rice, with soup or bread, with sweet or spicy sauce, deep fried or oven-cooked – I love it and so does the rest of the family!

Korean-style pork meatballs

Here are five reasons why I love meatballs:

  1. It can be served as snacks, appetizers, or main dish.
  2. Is not temperature sensitive so it can be transported for a picnic or a cocktail party with friends.
  3. Its bite sized.
  4. It’s filled with tons of great flavor.
  5. I love the aromatic smell of the mixture of meat and veges (before deep frying).

Since my son loves it too, I made this Korean-style pork meatballs this morning (before I went to work) for his snacks at school.


  • 500 grams of minced pork
  • 3 pieces spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small size carrot, grated
  • 1small size red or yellow capsicum
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • flour
  • eggs, beaten


  1. Put the minced pork meatballs in a mixing bowl. Add spring onion, carrot, bread crumbs, black pepper and soy sauce. Mixed properly by blending them with your hands.
  2. Take some of the mixture and form it into balls, then flatten it. Roll the meatballs in the flour. Dip the meatballs in the egg.
  3. Put the sesame oil in a frying pan and heat it up. Gently put the meatballs into the pan. Deep fry the meatballs with a medium fire until it turns golden brown.
  4. Drain in a plate with paper towel.
  5. Serve with Korean sauce and pasta or steamed rice.
  6. Enjoy eating!

Taste of Home: Scotch Eggs

I have learned that in the Middle Ages, British farmers and herdsmen made these Scotch eggs as their portable means of having some food in the fields; paired it with bread and something to drink. Nowadays, this special little treat is a favorite pub meal in Britain and in some other places around the world.

Love this special delicacy – Scotch Eggs 🙂

Since my son really loves hard-boiled egg, I made Scotch Eggs for breakfast last Thursday morning and they were absolutely tasty. I have also tried cooking it with minced chicken instead of sausage meat, and it was still delicious. While cooking it, I have realized that even though it looks very complicated, it is actually incredibly easy to make.

For those who are hard-boiled egg and sausage meat lover, here’s the recipe for you.

Ingredient for 5 Scotch eggs:

  • 250 grams sausage meat
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 spring onions
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • salt, according to taste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons cheese, grated
  • cooking oil


  1. Put the sausage meat into a mixing bowl. Add flour, salt, pepper, parsley, spring onion and cheese. Mix the meat mixture properly.
  2. Put the beaten egg in a dish and put the bread crumbs in a spate dish.
  3. Hold a hard-boiled egg, cover the egg with some meat mixture around it then roll between your hands to shape.
  4. Dip the balls (hard-boiled egg coated with meat mixture) into the egg. Roll it in in the bread crumbs until coated. Then shake it off to remove the excess.
  5. Put the cooking oil in a large frying pan. Heat it up. Put the balls carefully into the hot oil. Fry it for 5 minutes or until turn deep golden brown.
  6. Serve and enjoy!







Revisiting Philippines History in Intramuros, Manila

Last July, my family and I revisited the history of the Philippines in Intramuros, Manila – the oldest historic place in Manila that takes you back in time by hundreds of years. Intramuros is a Latin word which means “within the walls” because of the thick defensive walls built around the area to protect it from foreign invaders. In 1951, it was reconstructed after being heavily destroyed during the World War II. Even though Manila is fast changing and the old splendid colonial past is vanishing, Intramuros still has charm and history because of its beautifully preserved architecture and artefacts dating from the Spanish and American colonial era.

Welcome to Intramuros

A building in front of the gate in Fort Santiago

We spent about 4 hours there just walking and enjoying the past. Inside the Walled City, we saw many heritage structures – history, architecture, culture, and food. We were so interested in how it’s made; the stones looked very old and are cut precisely. Personally, I would certainly have loved to see the place a few hundred years ago.

Kalesa fun

We started our Intramuros walking-back-in-time tour in Plaza de Roma, a public square during the Spanish years and the center of Intramuros.  A long time ago, public events were held there, but in 1797 it was converted into a garden. We saw a statue of King Charles IV of Spain, which was built in his honor for sending the first batch of smallpox vaccine to the Philippines.

The Plaza de Roma and the Manila Cathedral

Then we walked to the south of Plaza de Roma to visit the Manila Cathedral, which was first built in 1581. I have learned that the cathedral has been damaged and rebuilt several times. Former prelates and former Archdiocese of Manila, Jaime L. Cardinal Sin were buried inside the cathedral.

Me and my family outside the Manila Cathedral

Inside Manila Cathedral

Few steps away from the Cathedral is the Palacio del Gobernador, a residence of the Governor-General during the Spanish Regime. At present, it is a government building that presently accommodates a number of offices of the Government of the Philippines such as the Intramuros Administration, the Commission on Elections and the NCR office of the Home Development Mutual Fund.

Palacio del Gobernador

Then, we headed to the Fort Santiago, a defense fortress built by Spaniards in 1851.  It is one of the oldest forts in the Philippines and it is where the Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned before his execution in 1896.

Inside Fort Santiago

with my sisters

From there, we took a trisikad (cycle rickshaw, powered by human pedaling) to visit the San Agustin Church. On our way, we passed by the Memorare Manila, a monument built in the memory of more than a hundred thousand innocents killed and of all those who died during the Battle for the Liberation of Manila (one of the most brutal episodes of World War II) between February 3 and March 3 of 1945.

Memorare – Manila 1945

The Baroque style San Agustin Church is one of the Philippine churches recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1976, it was named as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine Government.

San Agustin Church

Then we explored the Plaza San Luis Complex, which is composed of several houses such as Casa Manila, Casa Urdaneta, Casa Blanca, Los Hidalgos and El Hogar Filipino that represents different eras of Filipino-Spanish architecture and represents the lifestyle of the Illustrados (the privileged citizen) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Philippines. This cultural and commercial complex houses a hotel, museum, souvenir shops, cafe and restaurants.

Plaza San Luis Complex

One of the buildings in Plaza de San Luis Complex

And to complete our walk-back-in-time experience, we walked through the cobblestone streets in General Luna Street (in between San Agustin Church and Plaza San Luis).

Plaza San Luis Complex

One of the buildings in Intramuros

We ended our tour with a nice lunch at Ristorante delle Mitre. I love the ambiance of the restaurant – it’s unique and depicts how Filipinos were during the Spanish era. The food there is definitely good and the staff is friendly.

Ristorante delle Mitre

My parents were so pleased to visit the place as it was their first time there. Indeed, our family’s trip down memory lane in Intramuros was such a great one. If you are keen to know about the old Spanish Manila and its way of life, Intramuros is the place for you and is well worth all your time.

What did you like best in Intramuros? What other place could you recommend in Intramuros?





































Taste of Home: Baked chicken and potatoes with white béchamel sauce

In my country, The Philippines, Christmas season begins today (1st September). So to start the joyous celebration, I made a simple Turkish chicken dish – baked chicken and potatoes with white béchamel sauce.

baked chicken and potato with bechamel sauce

The combination of chicken, potatoes and béchamel sauce is just perfect – cheesy, buttery, satisfying and just simply delicious.

Plus, you can easily find the ingredients in the supermarket and it’s easy to make.

For those chicken, potato and béchamel sauce loving, this recipe might look right up your alley! And if you give it a try, I wish you enjoy the way we enjoy it. 🙂

baked chicken and potato with bechamel sauce

Ingredients for 6 persons:

  • 500 grams of chicken breast, sliced
  • 3 medium size potatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium size onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 medium size red pepper, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups Fresh milk
  • 40 grams butter, melted
  • 100 grams Emmental cheese, grated
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • salt

baked chicken and potato with bechamel sauce


Prepare the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in an oven dish. Add half teaspoon of salt, half teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Toss it properly. Sprinkle some water. Then put it in the preheated oven at 230⁰C for about 20 minutes.

Prepare the chicken mixture.

Put 2 tablespoons of olive in a pan. Put onion and garlic and sautee for about 3 minutes. Add chicken breast. Stir and let it cook until the chicken turns white. Add salt, black pepper; and stir. Then put in the red pepper and tomato paste. Stir. Let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Put the chicken mixture on top of the baked potatoes.

Prepare the white béchamel sauce.

In a cooking pot, put the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and keep stirring it. Then add the milk. Keep stirring the mixture until it thickens.

 Put the béchamel sauce on top of the chicken mixture.

Put the cheese on top of the sauce.

Put it in the oven at 230⁰C for 30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!