Skip to main content

A Visit to Chinatown in the City of Manila

Chinatown, Manila, the Philippines - January 29, 2012

We missed the opportunity to see Chinese New Year celebration in Manila last Janaury 23, 2012 so I and my wife decided to go here in Chinatown 6 days after. Actually, we have no any plan of going here and go buy jewelries at the popular Ongpin Street where Chinatown is also popular about. It was just a what-you-see-is-what-you-get tour and my main intention is to actually capture different angles of the town as well as of the scattered items with Chinese traceability. Take a look on these first few photos that I took.

On the Photos: The China Town "Welcome" Street Structure




We walked straight from Quiapo Church going to Binondo Church via the famous Ongpin Street. This could really be the highlight of Chinatown primarily because on everywhere you look, there is something about Chinese that can be seen. Even the posts, the establishment names and the advertisement banners are in Chinese language. It was our first time to reach the place and so we happened to realize that we were already at Chinatown when this "Welcome" sign appears in front of us.

On the Photos: Chinese Signs, Items and Symbols Seen from Everywhere










And so we continued walking after passing the Chinatown Welcome point. All I wanted to do by that time is to take photos while my wife keeps on looking for something that is Chinese. Our necks are about to break looking from side to side, corner to corner, here and there, until we saw something attractive. After a few minutes, we found ourselves sitting inside the popular Four Season Cuisine restaurant. Looking from the outside, this restaurant seems to be just like the ordinary street restaurants here in the Philippines. But when our orders were served inside, it was like eating in Beijing. Since we do not want to eat exotic and unusual Chinese foods, we decided to eat common-to-see cuisines in the Chinese fast food chains in the country. The special wanton noodles with lots of toppings, the canton noodles with authentic sweet Chinese oil, the so-called "lumpia" in the Philippines and the fried rice called "kiampong" boosts our appetite. I used chopsticks of course. It was the highlight of our being in the Chinatown that day. Fabulous foods!

On the Photos: Chinese Foods at Four Season Cuisine Restaurant








After that excellent food trip, we moved out and go look for something more amazing. And yes, we were amazed by these colorful fire trucks. White, black, violet and red and some other colors at the sides, corners and accessories obviously made these trucks very eye-catching. These are the Binondo fire trucks that are rescuing lives every year. Binondo community is very active when it comes to fire prevention campaigns. After these trucks is the Binondo Church, one of the oldest Church in the Philippines. The architecture is completely Gothic and western.

On the Photos: Binondo Fire Trucks on their Assorted Colors


On the Photos: The Binondo Church in China Town






Beside the Binondo Church are the huge street signs, the old Manila's trademark horse carriages, and the busy people and cars passing back and forth. The blending of Chinese and Filipino cultures can be seen at this portion of the Ongpin street. Filipinos are visibly working while Chinese are on their feet going here and there. Inside the Binondo Church are people expressing their faith.

On the Photos: Different Views of the Ongpin Street






We then decided to return back and get inside the stores that caught our attention earlier. It was the Eng BeeTin - Home of the Best Hopia and Tikoy, that gave my wife a very brilliant idea. That idea is, of course, to buy these delicious hopia and tikoy inside that store. Right at the very entrance of this store is the ube pao stand. We didn't buy ube pao but we were able to see the different colors and it was impressive. And there was so many more Chinese delicacies inside. Every customer seems to be in a hurry getting the items they want. It was after our shopping when we heard people talking about Eng BeeTin's 100 years anniversary. We looked around and yes, promo ads are posted everywhere. We were happy upon knowing that what we bought are on their discounted prices.

On the Photos: The Famous Eng BeeTin Store in China Town






In that short period of time, I was able to observe how Chinese move inside this town. It was an ordinary day but I realized that it was really a way of life for Chinese people here to walk and do their business just like the normal Filipinos. Some are buying stuffs, some are in groups and taking photos, some are in the street mini-temple offering prayers to their god, and some are there to live simply like the ordinary Filipino people. I saw this high tower where Chinese are coming in and out. I was able to capture three cute Chinese girls with an old lady as their guide. I was also able to take photos of the Binondo Chinese Mission Parish, the Binondo Suites Manila and the President Grand Palace Restaurant.

On the Photos: People and Landmarks in China Town
















As we leave Chinatown, I was able to witness how some Filipinos are spending their everyday in this community. An old lady asking for alms, some young boys in the Manila-Beijing Friendship Bridge asking for coins from the by-passers, vendors with their carts parked at the street-side, polluted river seen on the bridges, and pedicab boys waiting for passengers; all of these can be seen at this long stretch of the Ongpin street. Since this is my first time to be here, I realized I was wrong with what I'm thinking before. I thought Chinatown is like the Makati Business District and the Ortigas Center in Pasig City. I just thought that this town is well-organized and generally luxurious and beautiful. I was wrong base on what I had just witnessed.

On the Photos: Filipinos' Way of Life at the Ongpin Street in Chinatown










It was a memorable day, indeed. We tour the streets of Quiapo and then we commuted going back to Pasay via the Light Railway Transit or LRT. Chinatown in Manila is just one of the many Chinese communities in the Philippines and in the world. I have no enough idea about the history of the Chinese occupation of Manila during the past centuries. I am just aware that there are thousands of Chinese in the Philippines and most of them are operating their own businesses. Somehow, I really feel the Chinese presence that day mainly because of the lucky charms, symbolic street decors, Chinese characters seen from every corner and red arts and symbols of the Chinese New Year. But I was also deeply concerned about these Filipinos living in this community who are still seeking for lucks but there seems to be none.

Got the ideas about Chinatown in the Philippines? What about the Chinese things, got curious about them? Find a time to visit this place and it's up to you to discover more about Chinese.

Comments

Most-Read Posts of the Month

“I Love Baguio City” - My Travel Story in the Summer Capital of the Philippines

The Strawberry Farm, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, the Mansion, Wright Park, Lourdes Grotto, and Session Road; these are among of the popular landmarks in the more commonly known “Summer Capital of the Philippines” – Baguio City. Why so? Well, the temperature here seldom exceeds 26 degree centigrade. During the cold season of December to February, the temperature falls down to even below 10 degree centigrade. The record low temperature was 6.3 degree and that was on January 18, 1961.

How to Travel to Baguio City?
Going to this cold city in the mountainous province of Benguet, Philippines is a six to seven hours travel by passenger utility bus from Manila. Starting from EDSA, traversing the NLEX, entering SCTEX, exiting the province of Tarlac and going through the neighbouring provinces of Pangasinan and La Union, and then exploring the zigzag road of either the Marcos Highway, the Kennon Road or the Naguilian Road, the coldest place in the Philippines will be reached. Baguio is about 2…

The Crisis We Need to Face as One Filipinos

The price of rice, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, among other Filipinos daily basic needs, keeps on rising. What is going on in the Philippines today?


I think that same question is your question too.

During my elementary days, I used to sing a song about rice and a part of the song goes like this...

Bawat butil ng bigas na mailigpit... Ligaya rin natin kapag nagigigpit... Kumain ka ng husto at magtipid...
(Every grain of rice that is consumed... Our happiness when we are on crisis... Eat well and be thrifty...)
I can feel it and I am not numb to not see how the Filipinos are perishing to this crisis of the time. Rice, which our very own country produced, is so expensive that the lower class Filipino citizens can no longer afford to buy them. But if one cannot understand how rising global oil prices affects the inflation rate in the country, then to the simplest way, this blog will attempt to explain why importation of NFA rice is not enough to feed our hungry stomach, comfort our achi…

That “Smaller But Stronger Bonsai” Within Us

The average Filipino height, of ages 18 and above, for male is 5 feet 4 inches while for female it is 5 feet flat.

One weekend, I happened to be in this exhibit of bonsai trees in the nearby shopping mall in my place. The event was titled “The Living Art of Bonsai”. The art of bonsai making is truly marvelous. Seeing these alive small trees is an amazing wonder, and so I can’t keep myself but take photos of them in every angle possible. From these experience is where I’ve seen a strong resemblance of a bonsai tree’s life to the life of the common Filipinos, hence this post.

First, have a look on some of the wonderful photos of bonsai I captured.






Filipinos Features that Matters
This blog is about the story of the Filipino people, about us being smaller in terms of height and size compared to our neighboring countries and the rest of the world, and our resilience to adversities despite of that. If you’re not a Filipino, you may have a friend, colleague or neighbor who’s a Filipino and it co…

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Vulcanizing Shop, Sari-Sari Store, Bakery) – Part 1

I asked the shop owner about these old unused tires on what are they doing with it. The Vulcanizing shop owners says, “Oh, someone will pick up those tires and pay us 5 or 10 pesos each. Sometimes they just take it for free”.


Vulcanizing Shop - A Classic Example of Filipino Business
You’ve most probably seen and been into a local, typical vulcanizing shop like this one in the photo. The business concept is very simple. Here’s a customer with his flat or deflated tire and the vulcanizing boy will repair it using a rubber compound patch, a heating tool, and an air pump. If it’s a regular car or van tire, repairing one may only take 10 minutes the cost of which is around 30 to 60 pesos. If it’s a tire from a truck or bus, it could be around 30 minutes and the repair would cost the vehicle owner around 100 to 150 pesos.

Here’s the thing. A shop like this one could potentially earn a revenue of 1000 up to 2000 per day just by repairing a flat tire. Why? Well, with thousands of vehicles like j…

How Filipinos are Loosing their True Identity

What happens to the Filipinos foods?

Haven’t you noticed, foreign foods are invading the Philippines by storm? International restaurants serving foreign cuisines are everywhere. Culinary arts, the way Filipinos look at it, is just becoming a trendy topic. Chefs, food blogger, culinary experts, food architect - goodness, are they soon to replace the simple “kusinero” and “kusinera” words that best describes our real identity as Filipinos in terms of cooking?




Globalization shapes the future of the country, particularly the food landscape. There is nothing wrong with innovation. I’d been a waiter for quite some time in a popular catering business and if its about food preparation, I’m really impressed with the way our cooks and kitchen staffs do it. Those garnishing, decorative artwork, and plating styles, they really add beauty to the foods we serve. Even an authentic Filipino food, they make a twist making it lovely and attractive to the hungry eyes.

Those terms like “buffet”, “a la ca…

Who are These OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and Why are They the Modern Heroes of the Philippines

At the turn of the millennium, the Philippine government launches this campaign program calling the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs as “Mga Bagong Bayani ng Bayan” (Modern Heroes of the Nation). From then onwards, different organizations established programs giving awards and recognitions to selected OFWs who did a remarkable contribution or action to their family, friends, work or in general, to the country.


OFW ka ba?Bakit?Eh kasi dating mo pa lang, mayaman ka na. Boom! 
(Are you an OFW? Why? Because with just the way look, it seems that you’re rich. Boom!)

My Cousin Dado as an OFW in South Korea 

At present, OFWs around the world are estimated to be around 12 – 14 million. This is approximately 10 – 12 percent of the Philippines total population. These OFWs are distributed on many countries all over the globe majority of whom are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Italy. Immigrant workers in the United States, Australia and Eu…

The Divisoria Malls - Defining Shopping in the Philippines

They call it the 168 Mall. It is one of the busiest places in the Philippines during shopping days like Christmas season when longing for enjoyment and relaxation is on the air once again. From Cavite, my home place, going to Divisoria, it will take you about an hour travel under normal traffic flow.

What is in this place? Well, Divisoria is the Bargain Shopping Capital of the Philippines. This is where wholesale and retail prices make shoppers say “WOW!” on delight. Visiting this place will definitely give you a realization about shopping on a different dimension. Find out why on the next paragraphs.

On the Photo: The Popular 168 Mall in Divisoria, Manila, Philippines


Divisoria is located in Binondo, Manila. It is accessible via Quiapo(where the famous Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church is) thru Recto Avenue and via Lawton near Manila City Hall. Divisoria has been there since the early 90’s. As it is near the North Harbour, Manila’s main seaport, the freshest and cheapest products usuall…

Junk Collectors

Several months ago, when I was about to enter the public market near my place, I saw this old woman more or less in her early 60’s checking something on the garbage cans. That was really my first impression. I tried to observe what she’s doing for a few seconds more and I then realized she was after these empty and used plastic bottles. At first, I thought she was just looking for something she might have lost or maybe she’s looking for scrapped foods. But she’s not. The old lady looks clean and not like a scavenger. She’s just a typical person we’re seeing around. After a few moments, I approached the lady and told her,

“Nay, heto po ang konti (pera), pandagdag sa kita ninyo”.
(Auntie, here’s something (small amount), you can add to your income.)

And the old lady replied with a smile,

“Naku, salamat anak.”
(Oh, thank you son.)
Then, I proceeded with my market activity that day. From that time on, whenever I go to the market, I always hope that I will still see her, and give her a small am…

What We Filipinos Believe In

Weeks before I arrive on writing this post, I came across this person popularly known as “The Son of Hamas”. Hamas is an Islamist Group in the Middle East. Many regards them as terrorists but on their own rights and beliefs, they exists to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation. Before he’s a leader of Hamas. He quitted and now he’s into writing and public speaking taking his personal stand against the extremism done by his former organization Hamas and his campaign for better peace in the region in light of political correctness. You can search about him online - Mosab Hassan Yousef. Hamas’ beliefs, in Mosab’s point of view, is wrong.
The connection I want to imply in this piece of writing is this:

A belief, once it has been engraved in the people’s mind, is difficult to change, that it sometimes takes force (and time) for someone in authority to change it.



In the Filipino people’s mind, for example, that belief that Catholicism is the religion that wou…

“Pasalubong” – What Makes this Filipino Word Very Special?

Probably next to the beauty of a tourism spot, if it’s about the real reasons for traveling there, is our search for the best “pasalubong”. It’s the tagalog word for “gift” or “souvenir” and it can be anything from foods, toys, clothes, handicraft, furniture, soaps, wearables, or household items. It’s practically anything, big or small, cheap or expensive, edible or not. And for as long as that special item was bought somewhere else and then given to someone as an act of love and kindness – the true purpose has been served.


A simple gesture of “Salamat po” (Thank you) for sharing that pasalubong is enough to make you feel the love and kindness back. There is the best pasalubong for kids, for grandmas and grandpas, for a favorite grandson, for a close neighbor or friend, for the workmates, for the boss, for a former enemy, for a religious brother, and even for a complete stranger. Yes, indeed!

Well, “pasalubong” is actually different from a gift for birthday, wedding, or special gatherin…