Royal Postal Heritage Walking Tour in partnership with WalkwithChan, Binondo Firecrackers and Fire Lovers Association, Philippine Philatelists and Collectibles FB, Heritage Advocates and other non-government organizations conducted a guided tour within the heart of the world’s oldest Chinatown last February 5, 2019.
Santa Cruz Church also known as Archdiocesan Shrine of The Blessed Sacrament
The participants came from all walks of life, students, professionals, bloggers, journalists, travel operators, academe, people that are involve in heritage, culture, collecting clubs and even a Japanese expat !
Carriedo fountain replica ( photo courtesy of Mr. Philip Reyes)
We started the tour at around past 7:00 am. Some participants were already there at around 6:30 am. We also have two participants who came from Biñan, Laguna province.
Mr. Philip Reyes– is the earliest bird among the group. He got 1 box special Delite Herbal tea as a prize. He came around 6:20 am ahead of the other participants.
Delite Herbal tea are available in major supermarket chain and a daily sip of this would boost one’s immune system. Perfect for everyone, especially for those walking for whole day. It had three flavors turmeric -ginger with tamarind calamansi, salabat and ampalaya ( bitter gourd).
Chinatown Lailai Hotel reception area
Chinatown LaiLai Hotel began offering an affordable breakfast and lunch buffet meals to the general public about 5 years ago. They include them as package ( usually breakfast buffet) for their guests staying at their premises.
breakfast buffet dishes
The hotel restaurant used to have a wider selection of dishes at a more cheaper promo rate of Php 148 from 2015- 2016. Then they increased to Php 168 in the later part of 2016 with about 12 to 16 dishes with bottomless coffee and powdered juices ( orange or grape).
The slight change in their promo price was posted early December 2018, which also in effect increase their price to Php 199. (Php 300 regular price).
Chinatown LaiLai Hotel facade
However for regular patrons, the change in their prices also affected the selection and varieties of their dishes. We notice that they remove the popular fried boneless bangus, tocino, longganisa, sauteed radish and even their fried lumpiang shanghai off their menu list.
In general, their dishes are more varied compared to the regular fast food restaurants within the vicinity. Who could not resist the value for their hard earned money by having a breakfast buffet? However, some commented that they must try to improve the set-up by offering some senior citizen and pwd discounts.
Our group tried our best to reach out to the marketing and management of the hotel. It seems that they are too busy for the Chinese New Year celebration that sparing us some time seems useless. Personally, It would be a big marketing opportunity on their side since there are some participants from Daily Tribune, Manila Times and bloggers within the group.
Address: 801 Ongpin St. corner Sabino Padilla Street, Binondo, Manila
Lao Po Pia at Php 47.00 per pack
Salazar Bakery is one of the oldest and well-known bakeshop within the Chinatown district. Some were able to buy their hopias, sweetheart pastry and tikoy.
Salazar bakery different array of products
Ongpin estero restaurant stalls
The group decided to visit the popular estero. There are about a dozen or so stalls offering cheap Filipino-Chinese and regional Chinese cuisines.
fresh squids, clams and fish fillet
The only drawback are the stench coming from the estero, flies and children begging for alms. One must be careful with their belongings and have a watchful eyes. Some unsuspecting people and children can easily snatch an opportunity to get one’s item.
Uy Suy Bin Building along Quintin Paredes street is endangered of getting demolish. This is one of the few art deco building along the street. New Po Heng lumpia ( vegetable spring rolls) and home- cooked meals used to be located at the ground floor area of this building along with a well-known banking institution and hundreds of tenants.
Filipino-Chinese Friendship entrance arch along Quintin Paredes street
Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila or Plaza Binondo is home to two magnificent fountain, These two dates back in the late 19th century.
There are also some old ancestral houses remaining within the street. Their intricate iron grill works are amazing sight to behold.
Seng Guan temple with festive buntings
Seng Guan Temple is located along Narra street within Tondo district. The temple compound is just one block away from Tutuban Mall. Seng Guan Si was established by Wu Jianglu, Wang Zhenwen, and members of their Chinese Buddhist Society in the Philippines. Mahayana Buddhist is practice in this temple.
The facade has well detailed intricate carvings in bas relief made from granite stones imported from China or Taiwan. It is also a common practice among Filipino-Chinese and Chinese to place their offerings, sampaguita garlands and light incense in the large bronze incense burner placed at the altar of Guan Yi during the first day of the new year.
Seng Guan temple with devotees and tourists
There are beliefs that this will brings prosperity and good luck for those who practice this ritual. The group had a hard time queuing among the throngs of people in red dress. It is regarded as the first Buddhist temple in the Philippines, being the first temple with a resident monk, Venerable Seng Guan (1889-1962).
2nd floor of the temple
This three-floor temple crowned with beautiful golden stupas is also known as “Temple of Thousand Buddhas”. The second floor of the temple had chandeliers, is famous for the carved murals that depict different scenes from Buddha’s life and the three silk-mache gold Buddhas.
Some historians would agree that this is one of the oldest and probably largest in Manila in terms of its building size, compound, devotees and family urns that are deposited within the temple grounds. On the top most portion of the temple, one can see concrete stupas painted in gold color.
large buddha images
There is not much old structures remaining at the current compound. Most of the temple structure was burned down in the late 1960’s and the present temple compound is was reconstructed in the early 1970’s to mid-1970’s. Some of the buildings within the compound are just barely few decades old. Relatives and family friends living within the Binondo and Tondo district are devotees of this shrine.
We also went to Lucky Chinatown Mall for a quick snap shots.
Chinese lauriat style ( Ying Ying restaurant)
Our next stop over was Ying-Ying restaurant at around past 11:00am. This is a Filipino-Cantonese restaurant along Dasmariñas street in Barangay 291 within Binondo district. We ordered a 12 course Chinese lauriat dishes with almond jelly as dessert and choice of soft drinks ( coke, sarsi or sprite).
group photo ( photo courtesy of Mr. Edwin Galvez)
The name was derived from the proprietor and the business is doing quite well.
long lines of people waiting to eat ( photo courtesy of Mr. Edwin Galvez)
Proof to the pudding were hundreds of people queuing in line just to eat at this restaurant whenever there are occasions and important gatherings.
Address: 233-235 Dasmariñas street corner Yuchengo street, Binondo, Manila
This is another building endangered getting demolish along Dasmariñas street. It is said to be one of the works of Andres Luna de San Pedro. In neo-classicial style architecture.
Hap Hong Hardware Co. building along Dasmariñas st. cor. Quintin Paredes street.
Panciteria Macanista de Buen Gusto located at 539 San Fernando Street, Binondo mentioned in Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel ( El Filibusterismo)
We walked towards the other side of Binondo district. This had one of the historic parts of the district. There are also some of the last remaining centuries-old ancestral houses.
Fundicion de Hilario Sunico
This used to be owned by the Sunico family clan. There is a foundry at the back of the ancestral house where 176 church bells , iron grills and cast iron were made. Some of the bells and iron grill works adorn some of the old churches and ancestral houses in the country were cast.
Unfortunately , the property was sold several decades ago and the current owner operates a junk shop.
old ancestral house with tile roof- now several commercial stalls are located
This is a few example of ancestral house located in 638 Elcano corner Lavezares street, Binondo with tile roof still intact. This could possibly dates back in the late 18th or early 19th century. ( Some architects, heritage advocates estimate that this house is between 200 to 250 years-old)
few remaining ancestral houses within Lavezares street , Binondo, Manila
285 Lara street corner Barcelona street
This ancestral house is getting a new paint job and minor renovation at the ground floor.
Ancestral house of Mr. Ralph Soriano along Peñarubia street. The old house was built in the late 19th century. This was repainted and minor repairs were made last year.
Kim Yek Engineering and Foundry located along 529 to 533 Camba street
ancestral house located on a corner street -painted in light pink
A few block away from this location along Calle Madrid was at a house numbered as 28-D. In this house were Gregoria de Jesus was kept by her parents from marrying his then fiancee’ Andres Bonifacio.
Madrid street signage made from tiles
The documents at the National Archives and National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) revealed that she managed to write hasty letter to the gobernadorcillo of Binondo dated 6 October 1893. Its contents roughly translate into:
Gregoria de Jesus ( Lakambini or Muse of Katipunan)
“I am Gregoria de Jesus from Caloocan, a Tagalog maiden, and a minor age. I wish to contract marriage with my novio (fiancee) Andres Bonifacio of 11E Sagunto Street, Tondo. When my parents found out of my good intentions, I was brought here to Binondo and placed in 28-D Madrid Street.
I am truly a prisoner here. I have no liberty at all. I appeal to your power to mediate and give me justice. Take me from here, summon my fiancee, fulfill the necessary government requirements so that we can get married. I ask justice from you and hope that you listen because this appeal is addressed to anyone with a kind heart.”
Jaboneros street marker- This is one of the few remaining street markers made during the Spanish colonial era using tiles and hand-painted. Jaboneros was named after soap makers who sells them in bulk.
arch of solidarity -along Calle San Fernando
Arch of Solidarity serves as demarcation entrance between Binondo and San Nicolas district
San Nicolas was a barrio located within Binondo district, But was separated as an independent district towards the late 19th century. Unfortunately, some people would only refer San Nicolas because of the street which bear its name.
Iglesia ni Cristo chapel- lokal ng San Nicolas
Iglesia ni Cristo chapel located along 338 Jaboneros street had a unique architectural style. Curiously, this Iglesia ni Cristo -lokal ng San Nicolas also provide service in Chinese language. This was repainted to a light bluish hue compared to the light brown color few years back.
San Nicolas street
An ancestral house located within Binondo/ San Nicolas district with old street tiles still intact.
historical marker ( old house was numbered 476 to 478)
The current building is called Oceancell building located in 478 Calle San Fernando, Binondo. This used to be an old wooden house called Leyba house where Doña Teodora Alonzo y Realonda Rizal ( mother of Dr. Jose P. Rizal ) lived until she died on August 16, 1911. Along Estraude Street is the house which the Rizal family rented after the remains of Jose Rizal were exhumed from Paco cemetery. This is also the place where Dr. Jose Rizal bones were kept before they were finally interred at the monument.
General Antonio Luna ancestral house located at Urbiztondo street. He was born on 29 October 1866 in Binondo, Manila, the youngest of seven siblings. He studied at the Ateneo de Manila where he finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1881.
City Plaza condominium building located near Urbiztondo street near Plaza del Conde, Binondo, Manila
There are also rumors that there is another old ancestral house that was located near the fire station in which modern City Plaza condominium building now stand.
Coast and Geodetic Survey building
Coast and Geodetic Survey Building is located 421 Barraca Street,Binondo, Manila
San Nicolas fire station located at 296 San Fernando corner Madrid street
Antiqueño restaurant located along Madrid corner Lavezares street
Antiqueño restaurant which is located at the ground floor and a residential house at the second floor. The house is in neglected condition and possibly scheduled for demolition.
The house of Mason Faustino Villaruel at No. 8 Calle Asuncion served as meeting place for the members of the Walana Lodge.
a modern building along Calle Asuncion
It was in this house where an auxiliary lodge for women mason was founded. Doña Rosario Villaruel (Don Faustino’s daughter) became the first woman mason in the country. Asuncion street is popular among wholesalers of onions, garlic and cheap plastic wares. Most of the lower numbered houses and buildings are located in the Binondo area.
Casa Tribunal de Naturales
Calle Asuncion with some of the few old buildings which was used in the late 19th ( 1886) as a village court. Today very few people living within the area know the historical value and the building is under neglect and privately owned.
book which describes the historical value of the house and its architectural plan
Ilang-Ilang restaurant group photo
different specialties of Ilang-ilang restaurant ( photo courtesy of Ms. Winnie Ramos)
different dishes- chopseuy with quail eggs, buttered fried chicken, pata tim with winged pea, spinach with tofu soup, sweet and sour soup, fried rice, fried botchi with a choice of seven up and pepsi.
Chinese new year parade along Quintin Paredes street ( photo courtesy of Mr. Ralph Soriano)
The pink and blue colored t-shirts were also handed out by Mr. Ralph Soriano ( chairperson ) Binondo Firecrackers and Fire Lovers Association and tikoys to all the participants. Much to the delight of the participants, Some of them did not expect that there will be these kinds of freebies. Maraming Salamat po!
participants ( photo courtesy of Mr. Ralph Soriano)
We also visit New Toho restaurant aka ( Panciteria Antigua Toho ) This was established in 1888. A visit to the historical Chinatown district is incomplete without dining at this place.
(group photo- courtesy of Ms. Winne Ramos)
The simple ambiance, good food, personalities and historical figures who have dined-in at this place.
We again toured several places, watched dragon and lion dancers performed. The group also went to a Buddhist temple in Santa Cruz and capped the Chinese New Year with warm greeting and endless farewell.