Within the Walls: An Exploration of the Philippines’ Intramuros

Article by: Joshua Tan

Photograph by: Trisha Pazcoguin

The International Baccalaureate, or the deathly IB, is one of the most prestigious and time-consuming curricula. With this, of course, comes a rigorous and highly regarded English discipline. Because of where ISM is based, the English department has been able to include some Filipino literature into the curriculum through the study of novels such as Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco and When Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe. Not only are the books written by Filipino authors, but they also absorb the emotions and themes inherent in Filipino history and culture.

To enhance student learning, the English department organized a field trip to Intramuros just last week. Intramuros translates to “within the walls” from Latin and is the oldest district and the historic core of the Philippines. Mr. Butcher, the head of the English department, planned this trip hoping that the students will develop a “greater understanding” together with a stronger “connection with the cultural contexts from which modern day Manila evolved.” He adds that another goal of the visit was to “enrich students’ understanding of the Filipino voices [that have been] added to the English curriculum.” Lastly, Mr. Butcher believes that an indication of the usefulness of the trip will be shown by the quality of written tasks, oral activities and IB paper 2 exams of the students.

Many of the students gave positive remarks about the trip, confident that it enables them to grasp a deeper understanding of their novel’s setting and context. Angelo Manaloto, a junior, relied on the trip to give him a “first hand experience [he] wouldn’t be able to get with just a book in hand.” Another junior, Isabela Gatmaytan, who is currently taking HL A Literature, was optimistic that the Intramuros visit would supply her with a “better understanding of the setting of the book and of [her] mother country and its culture.” Moreover, she states that venturing to the historic capital of the Philippines helped her achieve a “richer comprehension of the book and the significance of why certain events occur in the story.” Having faith in the objective of the visit, she agrees that this is able to “ease the experience” of taking HL Literature. Shedding a positive light upon the literature community, both the teachers and students are supportive regarding the benefits of this trip as it achieved its rightful purpose.