Thursday, September 28, 2006


Located at Plaza Calderon de la Barca, Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo, was founded by the Dominican Friars in 1596. It has sustained considerable damage over the centuries from earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as from fierce bombings during World War II. It wasn’t until 1972 that it was restored, but the octagonal bell tower and some foundations remain of the original 16th century structure, which is typical of colonial Spanish architecture. Today, its maintenance is largely funded by the members of the Catholic Chinese community; most reside and operate business establishments in the area.

Binondo, an hacienda once like Makati, is an island between two estuaries or esteros Estero de la Reina and Estero de Binondo. The village of Binondo sprang in the banks of the Pasig River, and was once called Ysla de Binondo. It was already a hub of Chinese commerce even before Martin de Goiti and his men forcibly took over Manila in 1570 from its Muslim kings.

Two years before this church was built, in 1594, the Spaniards gave the land to the Catholic Chinese tax-free and Binondo was established with limited self-governing privileges. This was to encourage their loyalty to Spain while keeping them culturally at a distance. Nonetheless, just across the Pasig River, from the gated walls of Intramuros, the Spaniards aimed the range of their
cannons at this Chinese enclave in case of an uprising.

Galleon Trade ensued thereafter which sailed between Manila and Acapulco and linked the Chinese junk trading system to Mexico and to the rest of Europe. For 250 years, galleons sailed 9000 nautical miles. When the Spaniards settled in the country, more Chinese came. And as the population of the Chinese grew in Manila, the mutual feeling of fear and distrust between them and the Spaniards rose as well. Consequently, such mutual suspicions manifested persecution and harassment including large-scale massacres.

In 1581, Governor General Gonzalo Ronquillo Peñalosa's heightened fear of the Chinese led him to issue a directive to round up the scattered communities of early Chinese migrants and forced them to settle at the Settlement of San Gabriel. They were also subjected to forced labor in building the Walls of Intramuros. Travel to the island was through the Duente de Spaña Bridge built by the Spanish authorities in 1632 (where it was replaced by Jones Bridge). At that time, by law, all Chinese were forced to reside in the areas of Ysla de Binondo, San Nicolas and Sta. Cruz.

The Spaniards separated the Chinese in quarters called
Parian. By 1596, led by their padrinos, most citizens of Parian, were baptized as Catholics, thus creating the Chino cristianos. By virtue of their new faith, they were granted more freedom than the unconverted Chinese and could marry the natives. In 1790, when the last Parian was destroyed, the Chinese were allowed to join the baptized Chinese in Binondo and Santa Cruz. Sangley, the term used by the Spaniards for the Chinese, comes from the word siong-tay, literally "often comes" in Hokkien. The Sangleys came as merchants, laborers, and artisans. Due to massacres or fires, the Spaniards changed the location of the Parian nine times.

The first major
Chinese revolt against the Spaniards occurred on October 25, 1593. It was led by Pua Ho Go (P’an Ho Wu in Mandarin) who, along with 250 Chinese, was enlisted compulsorily as boat rower for a military expedition to Moluc¬ca Islands in Indonesia, led by Governor-General Gomez Perez Dasmariñas.

It was a series of failed expeditions — in 1582, he had to go home after two-thirds of the expedition were downed by epidemic; 1584, no luck, either. Finally, in 1593, Dasmariñas had with him in his galley 80 Spaniards and 250 Chinese galley slaves. The vessel was put into port near Batangas for shelter due to contrary winds. In the silence of the night, when the Spaniards were asleep, the galley slaves led by Pua Ho Go killed them all, except for a Franciscan friar and secretary. Dasmariñas was the only Spanish governor-general and the highest ranking Spanish official in the Philippines ever killed by the insurgents.

On October 3, 1603, the Spanish colonial regime carried out the first massacre of the Chinese in the Philippines, in which more than 23,000 died. It was also the first Chinese pogrom that occurred in Southeast Asia. There was a total of six Chinese massacres in the Philippines in which approximately 100,000 lives were sacrificed. The Chinese, along with the Filipinos, experienced untold sufferings from the brutality of the Spanish rule.

There are now about
1 million ethnic Chinese in the Philippines; a large concentration live in the cities of Manila and Cebu. HIstorically, the relationship between the Chinese and Filipinos has alternated between alienation and acceptance from the pre-Spanish era. However, through intermarriages and the more common use of Tagalog, many Chinese (or Tsinoys) are now active participants in all aspects of Philippine society.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:40 AM


Anonymous Major Tom said...

I've learned out Pa Hau Go somehow from history classes at school. With this feat I thought he should have been more famous by now. The chinese community should parade his heroic stature since this is one thing that should boost their stature as truly Filipio despite their being of foreign origin.

September 28, 2006 10:46 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Since you're in binondo anyways... FOOD TRIP!!! Ikain mo ako ng fresh lumpia :P~~~~

I wonder if Ivan can provide you a food trip itinerary ? Sana people would share their 'gem of a resto' finds in Binondo. Para pag bisita ko dyan eh masubukan ko rin.

Funny how Ongpin/Divisoria is one of the places that I miss. :)

BTW, good blog and nice pix !

September 28, 2006 11:05 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I agree, Major Tom. He ought to have been placed up there along with Bonifacio and Rizal.

But then again, it's probably the early Chinese community's discreet or low key disposition within the Philippine society which prevented the acknowledgement of Pau Hau Go to be hailed nationally as a bondafide hero of our country. However, it's never too late to pursue such.

September 28, 2006 12:25 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Food trip is actually what I have up next, S.A.!

As I write this response to your comment, a typhoon is raging in the City of Manila -- signal #3 I heard. Its howling winds remind me of NY's hurricanes.

September 28, 2006 12:29 PM  

Anonymous aurea said...

Ah, I'm learning Philippine history from your posts! I didn't know the Chinese were so oppressed by the Spaniards. Forced labor, massacres... wow.

September 28, 2006 1:38 PM  

Blogger paetechie said...

nice post many things to learn and blog also of the places you mentioned.

blog on!

September 28, 2006 1:56 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

This is another nice post Eric. I get to learn new things every single day when I read your blog. Heehee. It's good to know the histories of the Philippines!


September 28, 2006 4:13 PM  

Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

I notice that from the time that Go managed to cut the throats of his Spanish masters to the first mass chinese slaughter was more than 20 years. The Spanish were great at exacting retribution very soon after colonial uprisings. Also, they were good at capturing, torturing and executing, usually very slowly and painfully, the leaders of the many uprisings over the centuries. I would guess that they eventually got Go as well. The Spaniards had LOOOOONG memories. It always surprises me how proud so many Filipinos are if they can claim some Spanish ethnicity. I always joke that I'm mostly Scottish and Irish with a bit of bloody English thrown in just to keep me pissed off at myself.

September 28, 2006 11:07 PM  

Anonymous carla said...

i'm betting that you took the picture of the plaza and church on our binondo tour. ^^

i've certainly learned more about binondo from your post. i just looooove Manila, it has a lot of history, doesn't it?

as for my entry on intamuros, i'm still in the middle of writing the one on escolta so maybe i might be able to post the one for intramuros sometime this weekend. :-)

September 29, 2006 9:56 AM  

Anonymous iskoo said...

i been to that place maybe 2 years ago (i'm referring to the Binondo Church), have not noticed the existance of a fountain, is that new, o baka tinggal lang yung bakod sa mini park. anyways, nice vantage poin na napili mo, you made the total composition very interesting!

September 29, 2006 10:20 AM  

Anonymous carla said...

senor, i just remembered your entry about the manila city hall and that ivan included a piece of trivia about it. i was just surfing through the corregidor scrapbook archive and came across this:

methinks it's creepy.

September 29, 2006 10:35 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

Nice shot from behind the fountain. I like it. :)

September 29, 2006 11:19 AM  

Blogger ladybug said...

Binondo Church is really beautiful, even from the inside. That's where my husband and I got married last year. Nice post! :-D

September 29, 2006 1:26 PM  

Blogger Analyse said...

interesting post. im learning about our country each time i visit your site. i actually thought of showing your site to my daughter when she's old enough to learn our culture and history.. but well, that's probably 10 yrs from now hehe..

i like the picture of binondo church, well taken.

September 29, 2006 8:31 PM  

Blogger sheilamarie said...

My 1st time to visit, but it sure will not be the last. Your articles are very interesting, especially about old manila, binondo. My mum would've enjoyed your stories. Her ancestors were some of the bellmakers for the churches in Binondo, and she was full of stories and anecdotes about life in their old home in binondo and their foundry shop, the family business at that time. Looking forward to your next post

September 30, 2006 12:07 AM  

Blogger g.knotee said...

hey, cool shot of the binondo church. very artistic, with the trickling water on the fountain.

September 30, 2006 2:01 PM  

Blogger cruise said...

very nice architecture, very nice shot highlighted by a fountain. its been quite a long time since the last time I visited that church.

September 30, 2006 2:15 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

First of all, I apologize for this late response to your comments. Other than the howling winds, the typhoon Milenyo also left us with many downed trees and a blackout that lasted from Thrusday until a few minutes ago. Whew!

September 30, 2006 9:36 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

To Aurea, Tito Basa and Kyels:

Thanks! I thought the best way to catch up on some local history is to share the finds so as to make the whole experience even more enjoyable :)

September 30, 2006 9:41 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Phil, you surely have a way with words; I could feel the slow pinch of the garote around my neck when I thought about Gomez, Burgos and Zamora who were executed in such manner as I read your comment ... lol!

Scottish, Irish an English? Wow! Not exactly a boring history you got there ... hahaha!

September 30, 2006 9:46 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Took the pic before Ivan's tour, Carla. Quite remarkable the history of Binondo, huh?

Thanks for the URL; some pics it got! Wow!

Yes, let us know when you've posted your review.

September 30, 2006 9:51 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

To Niceheart, Iskoo and Cruise:

I think this plaza was recently renovated by Mayor Atienza as well. There are two fountains located at both ends of the plaza.

Thanks guys :)

To Analyse:

Hopefully, by the time she grows up we'll have several updated books about our rich history, Analyse.


September 30, 2006 10:02 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! That must have been some wedding, Ladybug, because the interior of this church is really wonderful, which, by the way, is undergoing renovation so it should become even more beautiful when done.

September 30, 2006 10:04 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Bellmakers of Binondo? Wow! I hope you share with us some of the family anecdotes, Sheila Marie. I bet they are exciting and historical!

September 30, 2006 10:06 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I originally took this photo as an entry to a photo contest among memebers of an online photo club, G. Knotee.


September 30, 2006 10:07 PM  

Blogger BW said...

That's a nice pic you got in there bro with the fountain droplets taking half of the pic. Calendar quality to me.

October 02, 2006 8:52 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Gee, thanks, BW!

October 02, 2006 3:44 PM  

Anonymous beth said...

hello Eric, you know one time i was passing through the plaza and i was thinking of the best way to take the shot of the church... funny the way i envisioned it was just like you took it...with the fountain on the side :-)

The Plaza San Lorenzo is just new. there used to be 2 places there but they demolished a street and extended the plaza and landscaped it and placed the fountains. I think Metrobank is helping maintain the plaza and I don't know when they are going to really finish it, you notice that NOT all structures are fixed, right?

The eating places around the plaza are also new with the latest being Mc'Donald's. Starbucks started it!

Did you know that September 28 was the feast of San Lorenzo de Manila? There was supposed to be wreath laying on his monument in that plaza but i'm pretty sure it did not push through because of the typhoon.

BTW, At the back of the Basilica is the Binondo Parish mission, they also celebrate mass there in Mandarin. The chaplain there is Father Sierra and has lots of stories on the parish including the kindness of Padre Benavidez (where they named one of the streets) who would carry sick chinese on his back to give them care, his acts actually led many chinese to convert. Fr Sierra says that the Dominicans (OP) used to be in charge of the big church before it was turned over to the diocesan priests (Monsignor Gerome is the parish priest now)

Ok this post was long, it has been a long time since i visited. Take care and i'll read more of your posts...

October 02, 2006 6:44 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Beth!

As always, many thanks for your input. These are all interesting information you mentioned, and very much appreciated, indeed!

They're still renovating the interior of the church last I was there; can't wait to see the result when done, I'm sure it'll be grand!

I haven't gone to the back chapel, but Father Siera seems to be a very interesting personality. I'll be interested to hear his other historical takes. Does he relate them in Mandarin only?

October 03, 2006 1:01 PM  

Anonymous DatuPanot said...

senor enrique,

thanks a lot for sharing your knowlegde in the filipino history.
some of the entries in this blog of yours are ceratainly an eye-opener for me.



October 17, 2006 8:56 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

My pleasure, DatuPanot!

October 22, 2006 4:51 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

My pleasure, DatuPanot :)

October 22, 2006 5:04 PM  

Anonymous Anti-Beast said...

Your article on Binondo omitted any mention of one very important group of people: mestizos de sangley. Also, the cannons were trained at the unconverted sangleys residing in the Parian not the converted sangleys living in Binondo, most of whom intermarried with indio women and sired a new race called mestizo de sangley.

January 28, 2008 10:43 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks for pointing them out Anti-Beast! I'll make sure they don't get omitted in my book ... hehehe.

January 29, 2008 4:59 AM  

OpenID equilibrium2008 said...

I simply love your blog. Reminds me of our rich history. And I am also proud to be Tsinoy. Hope it is okay if I will add you to my blogroll. :)

May 29, 2008 3:48 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you, Equilibrium2008!

This article is intended as a reminder of the abundant and diverse contributions of the early Chinese in our local history and culture. They were, in fact, OFWs who had done well, and in the process, enriched the country through their unwavering industry.

May 30, 2008 6:48 AM  

Blogger laon laan said...

Nice piece if work Sr. though its unfortunate that majority of today's Filipinos don't see Binondo like you do...Binondo is a major setting of events in Noli and old streets like Sacristia and San Jacinto was mentioned there...Kap. Tiago is from Binondo so as Don Rafael Ibarra...lately, I was wondering if these street names still exist or its been forgotten because of the ever changing names of many historical places in the Philippines like Anloague St....they should realize that old names of places must be retained

September 21, 2008 6:57 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you, Laon Laan!

Part of my mission as a blogger is to make our youths more cognizant of our rich and diverse history and heritage.

Yes, it is indeed saddening when they change the names of our streets. Here are two entries of mine you might want to read:

September 22, 2008 8:26 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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