Friday, March 11, 2011

A Walk in Manila Chinatown

We got the chance to do a DIY Manila Walking Tour when stayed at Landbank Training Center in Intramuros after our 5-day seminar in U.P. Diliman. It was a Saturday morning and first on our itinerary is the Manila Chinatown in Binondo.

A short jeepney ride took us to the district of Sta. Cruz. Across the street is the Arch of Goodwill which marks the east side end of Ongpin Street. The Arch of Goodwill commemorates the friendship between the Filipino people and the immigrant Chinese.

Upon entering the Arch of Goodwill, this sight of Ongpin greeted our eyes.  

The street is named after Don Roman Ongpin, a Chinese businessman who supported the “katipunero” rebels during the successful uprising against Spain in 1896. 

Running in the center of Chinatown, Ongpin is a mishmash of businesses run by Chinese merchants. Various establishments stood in both sides of the street. I observed that the most prominent businesses here are jewelry stores, restaurants and Chinese drug stores.

 Chinese decors and good luck charms are also sold in the roadside.

We passed by this old woman reading a Chinese newspaper over Philippine tabloids on the side of the road:

 Then there's another arch marking the Ongpin North Bridge:

A river with water that looks stagnant. A not-so-pleasant sight to look at:

 Then another arch that says "Welcome to Manila Chinatown":

A little walk farther is the Eng Bee Tin store. Here we bought some hopia and other delicacies for pasalubong:

A few meters away from Eng Bee Tin is the Binondo Church. The purple-colored firetruck parked beside the church is donated by the owner of Eng Bee Tin to the community. There are plenty of volunteer fire trucks in Chinatown because arson-for-insurance fraud often happens here.

Portion of the Binondo Church facade

Binondo Church is also known as Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. It was built in 1569 but the original structure was damaged by earthquakes and other natural disasters over the centuries. Today, only the octagonal bell tower is all remains of the 16th century construction. St. Lorenzo Ruiz (c.1600 – Sept. 29, 1637), the First Filipino Saint once served at the convent of Binondo church as an altar boy.

Binondo Church also known as Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz

Our walking tour ended at the Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz fronting the church. We then took another jeepney ride back to Intramuros.  Though it was only Ongpin Street which we were able to explore that morning, we sure had a great time experiencing the sights and sounds of Manila Chinatown.


  1. I've always seen China Town in Binondo as a place to buy cheap stuff and never with the eyes of a tourist like I do when I visit other China Towns here in the Philippines and abroad. Maybe I should do a walking tour as well and check out the church at last. I'll look for a yum cha resto,(Pwera lang hablot ng camera ;))

  2. madalas ako sa Quiapo at DV pero na-tour ko lng ang Binondo last Nov dahil sa PTB. sarap ng food. :)

  3. @Claire:It didn't crossed my mind that there are camera-grabbers out there.Thanks for the comment, I should be more careful next time.

    @Gael: What places can you recommend? I should try eating there the next time I go back.

  4. Sometimes talaga,we don't have to go too far to travel. Manila and specifically Binondo is such a delight to travel to. Went here for a day just wandering around. I've talked to many people, ate delicious food and admired historical churches... and of course bought hopia! he he Cool trip!

  5. this is one of the busiest places in town. People should clean the river waters so it would be pleasing to look at, and many tourists will come.. :/

  6. i think i've been here. tamad lang ako lumingon sa paligid-ligid kapag nakita kong makalat at crowded. anyway those churches have beautiful architectural sytles.. i'm wondering kung meron bang distinct style ang Pinoy Churches?


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