Binondo - Manila Chinatown in Binondo
Across the Pasig River from Intramuros is the Binondo area, home of Chinatown. The district is filled with all things Chinese from Peking duck and Buddhist temples to gold watches, snake soup, and wonder herbs. The high chords of Chinese songs and the permeating smell of incense complete the uniquely Chinese ambiance. It is said that this quaint district was already a hub of Chinese commerce even before the Spaniards came in 1571.
In particular, Ongpin offers a lot of variety: restaurants, pet shops, bakeries, grocery stores, jewelers, traditional medicine shops, acupuncture clinics, kung-fu schools, and mahjong parlors. Ongpin leads to Plaza Santa Cruz, which is where Rizal Avenue curves to meet the MacArthur Bridge. Escolta, now a shadow of its former self, leads off from here. The plaza is dominated by Santa Cruz Church.
Adding to this atmosphere is the music you hear while walking along Chinatown, recordings that remind the old folks of their hometown in China, makes them long to go back home there. And looking around you, at the shop signs written in Chinese after being outlawed during the 1970's and 1980's, you'll realize that Chinatown is really a world of its own in the middle of Manila.
The assimilation of the immigrant Chinese into the fabric and lifeblood of Philippine history is now complete. It was said that the Filipino-Chinese (also called Chinoy/Tsinoy) are the most assimilated Chinese community in Southeast Asia. Out of these Binondo intermarriages came St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the First Filipino Saint – Binondo Church is officially named Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. A visit to Binondo is never complete without dropping by the church whose original façade survived the massive carpet bombing of Manila by the Americans during World War 2.