Binondo, comes a close second when talking about my favorite places here in Metro Manila. Food, shopping, great architecture and urban scenery, you can all find those here. I’ve been going to this quaint Chinatown since I was a kid. I remembered taking a summer job here when I was in my early college years, too, back when there were air-conditioned ferries that would take you from Guadalupe to Escolta.
I love the grit and rawness of Binondo. Both of the preserved and condemned old buildings would make you imagine how living here would be like in the past. I am a little sad that some of the buildings were not maintained and are currently in queue for demolition, though.
I always make sure to drop by the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, also known as Binondo Church. It may look a little bland with its slate gray stones painted with reddish brown tones, but the interior is breathtaking. You can’t almost notice the fact that it’s in Chinatown because the influence is evidently European.
I have always adored this fountain. Its location and elaborate decor take my breath away every single time. Too bad it now serves as a home for some homeless people. Hope they’d get shelters the soonest. We need to preserve spots like this, people.
Afterwards, we went to Lucky Chinatown Mall. The architecture of the buildings are divine. I felt like I was in Macau with the art deco purely influenced by the Portuguese . The cream walls and teal windows look so lovely when put together.
Famished from all the activities we partook that morning, we decided to fill our stomachs with the signature dishes of Binondo in Estero. It’s a small foodies nook near some creek that sells a variety of delicious Chinese cuisine, hence its name. I ordered frog legs dipped in sweet sauce and braised beef. You will never know that you’re eating frog legs unless you’re being told so. It tasted like chicken, actually. Other than being a little bony, I don’t have any problems eating it. I say that it’s a must-eat when in Binondo.
With filled tummies, we decided to continue touring around Chinatown. What I love about this place is that it has maintained its cultural authenticity despite of all the modernization that’s happening. We saw these two ladies offering incenses on the shrine located in the corner of some street.
Before we bid goodbye to this chaotic yet still charming little town, we took a quick stroll around so we can snap a few candid shots.
Here’s one more thing I love about Binondo, a horse-drawn carriage or kalesa. You can tour around the town by riding kalesas like this to make you feel more like a tourist.
ENG BEE TIN
Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila, Metro Manila