Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego reopens doors to visitors Monday–DOT

Published May 16, 2021, 12:11 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Fort Santiago and Baluarte de San Diego, two of the most popular sites to visit in Intramuros, Manila, is set to reopen Monday, May 17, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila. (Photo from Philippine News Agency)

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat bared Sunday, May 16 that the two sites will be opened on limited capacity and shortened operating hours. Minimum public health standards (MPHS) in connection with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will also be strictly observed.

Puyat made the announcement following the decision of the Inter-agency Task Force on the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to place the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal–collectively known as NCR-plus–under a general community quarantine (GCQ) “with heightened restrictions”.

Based on the IATF’s guidelines, tourist attractions can now operate at 30 percent of the venue capacity, subject to strict compliance with health and safety protocols.

“The re-opening of Fort Santiago and Baluarte San Diego will allow visitors to again experience the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction as recognized by the prestigious World Tourism Awards,” said Puyat.

The Intramuros Administration (IA), an attached agency of the DOT, manages the restoration and orderly development of the so-called “Walled City”, which was visited by 3.3 million people in 2019.

This time, however, Fort Santiago will accommodate only 200 visitors while the Baluarte de San Diego will allow a maximum of 100 persons at a time. Both figures are below the 30 percent threshold and will help ensure proper monitoring of the health and safety protocols.

Fort Santiago will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. On the other hand, the Baluarte de San Diego garden will be open to the general public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The entrance fee, which may be paid in cash or via Beep card or PayMaya, is P75. Senior citizens, students, and persons with disabilities are entitled to a discounted price of P50.

Visitors are limited to those aged 18 to 65 in compliance with the age restrictions set by the IATF. There will be a mandatory screening of temperature and symptoms, and implementation of sanitizing practices. All guests must register their visit via a QR (Quick Response) code system for contact tracing prior to entry.

Fort Santiago houses well-preserved legacies from the Spanish colonial period including memorabilia of José Rizal, its most famous prisoner, at the Rizal Shrine. There is also a replica of Rizal’s ancestral house in Laguna province.

Baluarte de San Diego also dates back to the end of the 16th century. The sturdy structure was constructed as part of the fortifications of the walled city and was primarily designed to repel invasions.

Meanwhile, the dungeons, Museo ni Rizal, ASEAN Gardens, and other sites are still off-limits to visitors.