2019 Chinese New Year Special Tour in Manila’s Chinatown

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.

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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 !

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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dining area

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).

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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

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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.

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Salazar bakery different array of products

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Filipino-Chinese Friendship entrance arch along Quintin Paredes street

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fountain

Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila or Plaza Binondo is home to two magnificent fountain, These two dates back in the late 19th century.

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grill works

There are also some old ancestral houses remaining within the street. Their intricate iron grill works are amazing sight to behold.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We also went to Lucky Chinatown Mall for a quick snap shots.

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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).

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group photo ( photo courtesy of Mr. Edwin Galvez)

The name was derived from the proprietor and the business is doing quite well.

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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

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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.

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Hap Hong Hardware Co. building along Dasmariñas st. cor. Quintin Paredes street.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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few remaining ancestral houses within Lavezares street , Binondo, Manila

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285 Lara street corner Barcelona street

This ancestral house is getting a new paint job and minor renovation at the ground floor.

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Peñarubia street

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.

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Kim Yek Engineering and Foundry located along 529 to 533 Camba street

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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.

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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:

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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San Nicolas street

An ancestral house located within Binondo/ San Nicolas district with old street tiles still intact.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Coast and Geodetic Survey building

Coast and Geodetic Survey Building is located 421 Barraca Street,Binondo, Manila

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San Nicolas fire station located at 296 San Fernando corner Madrid street

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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.

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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.

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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.

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book which describes the historical value of the house and its architectural plan

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Ilang-Ilang restaurant group photo

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 participants

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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.

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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!

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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.

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(group photo- courtesy of Ms. Winne Ramos)

The simple ambiance, good food, personalities and historical figures who have dined-in at this place.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Binondo Food Wok Tour

dragon dance beside Binondo Basilica

The oldest and most important festival in China is the Spring Festival. Better known as the Chinese New Year, it is a time for celebration for millions of Chinese all over the world. The Spring Festival celebrates the Earth coming to life and the beginning of plowing and planting.

fruits strung in wire with  red ribbons and red envelope

The Chinese use a calendar which places the festival on the first lunar day of the first lunar month.

Thus, the date of the Spring Festival changes each year. The new year in the 12-year cycle Chinese calendar is the Year of the Metal Tiger, beginning February 14, 2010.

Chinese seller of various curio stuffs in Ongpin street

Last February 15, 2010 (monday)  a day after the Chinese New Year, the group composed of Mr. George Yao , Ms. Neptune Pittman, Ms. Marilois  Estrella  , Ms. Gloria Razon, Ms. Virgie Neo, Ms. Catherine King, Ms.Leslie Kennedy ,Ms. Lina Gueco , Mr. Ray Ong and myself braced ourselves into a day of food tripping , shopping , culture and history hopping in one of the oldest Chinatown in the world.

The group immediately went into a buying spree at the Carvajal    wet and dry street market .

The planned trip was a last minute preparation, initiated by PHS dynamic lakwatsa committee head Tita Glo Razon .

We met at the PHS office at the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation at around 10:00 a.m. and as time passed by. The group finally agreed to meet at Carvajal Street near the famed Binondo church (Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo Ruiz).

The group went to find fresh produce like seaweeds, fruits, fresh flowers, vegetables, Chinese dried goods, etc…

dried Hemerocallis sp. or Day lilies

The flowers of some species are edible and are used in  Chinese and Asian  cuisine. They are sold (fresh or dried). This particular dried flower is popularly sold as ” bulaklak ng saging ”  and is used in various cuisine from Pata Tim, soup , adobo.

To the right is a wide alley of mixed shops, drugstores, jewelery shops and restaurants, but by the end is a lowly hidden shop by the name of Diao Eng Chay. It has never transferred to another building since its establishment almost 50 years ago.

Then the group went to the famous Diao Eng Chay – Chinese Deli or popularly known as DEC , the store is located at 845 to 847 Salazar Street , Binondo , Manila among its top favorite are its hopia, huat ke, heart shaped tikoy among others.

tikoy in various shapes , sizes and prices

Before , going to another convenient store, some of the tour members saw Ms. Vangie Go wearing red dress and buying some pasalubong at the nearby Shin Ton Yon store.

Shin Ton Yon store located at 825 brgy .296 Salazar Street , Binondo – this store is known for its deep friend spring rolls, lumpiang shanghai, nori squid balls,  pork asado, pork, chicken and beef floss .

New Victory Trading Store , this store is located in 754 Ongpin street and is known for  Wedding or Ting Hun items,  lucky charms, Feng Shui items,  mahjong sets, vases, trophy, glass items etc..

Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant

We walked towards Sabino Padilla Street ( formerly known as Gandara) and went to Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant . The restaurant is located at 807 Sabino Padilla street in Binondo and with the help of our gracious host Mr. Ray Ong ordered about a dozen of the restaurant specialty .

group enjoying a hearty lunch

Some of the notable dishes served  were the steamed beef with garlic, potato salad,tofu with century egg,  oyster cake, mustard fried rice, fried tomato rice ,  pancit guisado ,pancit bihon , sweet and sour mushroom soup , sauteed chicken gizzard and their service tea .

After the sumptuous lunch, the tour pack went to nearby fried siopao store in Ongpin while some of the members bought several packs of dimsums as pasalubongs.

the group also went to a nearby tofu factory

Eng Ho Bakery is located 628 to 630 Teodora Alonzo Street , Sta. Cruz Binondo , Manila and is famous for its chiffon cake, steam cake, mocha star cake, huat que, hopia and its mango flavored tikoy. Most of the group went into buying  spree after some brief introduction on the specialty of this store.

heart- shaped mango flavored- tikoy

steam cake

huat que

Marland Cake and Pastries is located at the corner of Soler street and Teodora Alonzo street  sells other popular Filipino – Chinese delicacies such as hopia, ang pao. Compared to other bakeries around Chinatown, This bakery is still not that popular compared to nearby Eng Ho bakery, however this store had some loyal clientele tucked into its name.

Marland Cakes & Pastries

a short tour in the nearby Arranque market , some members of the tour group went into panic buying  of different array of dried Chinese foods, fruits, vegetables, lotus leaves, Chinese chorizo, Taiwan squash seeds , Ho ti etc…

members of the tour group went inside a Filipino- Chinese convenient store

dried jelly fish on sale at the Arranque market

various array of meat balls, fish balls, crab sticks, kikiam, squid balls

Mr. Ray Ong holding a meat ball made to resemble a cartoon character

pet shop tour

The group went to various stores and bought several items, which included a visit to the nearby pet stalls at the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue and Teodora Alonzo street.

Lion dance marked the first working day of the Chinese lunar New Year

New Eastern Garden Restaurant located along Ongpin street is famous of their fresh lumpia and other home cooked Filipino- Chinese cuisine. This restaurant was established in 1950. The restaurant is near the Maxim Tea House  & Restaurant

signage of New Eastern Garden Restaurant

Salazar Bakeshop– the  shop smells Chinese food all over, with it offering a variant of Chinese delicacies; from hopia, chiffon cake , tikoy , pastries and  botchi.

mungbean  with salted egg another specialty of the bakeshop

The wide range of choices for the different Hopia flavours made the decision a little difficult: Which to buy? Even Hopia Mungo are classified into Black Mongo, Black Mongo Bean, Mongo with cheese,Lotus Cream Hopia ,  Mongo with salted egg, Hopia pineapple, White Lotus ( Lao Po Pia)  and pure Mongo. But the simpler the better right?

Tikoy rolls – one of the specialties of Salazar Bakery

This bakeshop is known for its various tikoy rolls and moon cake. This bakery had a tradition of over 60 years and rivals that of Eng Bee Tin, Holland, Diao Eng Chay , Eng Ho , Chuan Kee , Monte Land etc…

different types of hopia – Holland bakery

Two blocks away from Salazar Street is the E.T. Yuchengco Street ( formerly known as Calle Nueva ) an empty alley which bans all transportation from entering. Situated along the street are towering condominiums and offices, far from the old two-storey stores that dominate Chinatown. Peeping through the modern buildings is an old big sign which says: Holland Hopia. It would probably take a while to figure out which store the sign is referring to, it being a tiny almost unrecognizable bakeshop.

This bakery is known for its hopia baboy, diced hopia , hopia buko pandan- macapuno  , hopia pu tao ko and is one of the main rival of the famous Eng Bee Tin bakery .

Group photo : L- R Tita Gloria Razon, Ms. Neptune Pittman, Ms. Lina Gueco, Ms. Marilois Estrella and Ms. Virgie Neo

Eng Bee Tin Bakery

The store is located at 628 Ongpin street coner E.T. Yuchengco street , Binondo , Manila and had 4 branches in Metro Manila. Eng Bee Tin products are also exported in a number of countries around the world.

Born in 1912, Mr. Chua Chiu Hong established Eng Bee Tin in a simple stall in the heart of Ongpin, Manila. The stall became well known for its traditional Chinese delicacies, such as hopia, tikoy and glutinous balls.

During the 1970s, Eng Bee Tin stood cloistered in a sea of similar businesses. Its popularity began to wane and its products were getting harder to sell in a competitive environment.

More than a decade passed, and there appeared to be no end to the downtrend. The stall’s hopia proved unpopular due to its consistency. Creditors, suppliers and friends were turning a cold shoulder, wary of doing business with a seemingly doomed enterprise. The business needed a miracle to survive the 1980s.

It came in the form of Mr. Gerry Chua.As the eldest among the current generation of Chua siblings at the time, it fell upon Gerry to take the reins of the business at the young age of 21. He was armed only with a sincere wish to help his father by affecting a turnaround on the family business.

The store currently have 8 branches .

La Ressureccion Chocolate- located 618 Ongpin street , Binondo , Manila

This chocolate factory is considered as one of the oldest existing chocolate factory in the country .  The store is located near the Eng Bee Tin Bakery store while the original Hispanic style building in which the store once stood in place is now a vacant lot waiting for the next building !

Chocolate  tablea products

Manila’s Chinatown, like China-towns elsewhere in the world, has colorful parades that wind around the district, capped with the Lantern Festival on the night of the first full moon which marks the end of the Chinese New Year holiday period. Good-luck items for sale abound, together with other items that have become synonymous with Chinese New Year celebration. Eating noodles is traditional and is believed to ensure long life.

People born in the Year of the Tiger are said to be intelligent, alert, courageous, honest, lucky, intense, lively, and engaging. Colorful and unpredictable, their energy and love for life are stimulating.

They are optimists who always bounce back for new and fresh challenges. Known for their ability in influencing others and swaying crowds, those born in the Year of the Tiger love life and want to live it to the fullest.

It would be a great year if people could take in the good characteristics of the Tiger who pursues life with unyielding energy. With a tiger mind for this Year of the Metal Tiger, our actions could bear fruit and make it easier for us to achieve our goals for the year 2010.

Happy Chinese New Year to one and all!

Kung Hei Fat Choi, Gong Xi Fa Chai , Kiong Hee Huat Chay !!!!!

2010 is the Year of the Tiger,
which is also known by its formal name of Geng Yin. 2010 is Year 4707 in the Chinese Calendar.

Note: The author occasionally on special request may do a Binondo Food Wok Tour