Thursday, January 17, 2008


In front of Binondo Church on an island in the middle of Juan Luna Street is Plaza Calderon de Barca; also known as Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz (the first Filipino saint). And between Oriente and Veronica Streets, in front of this plaza, once stood Hotel de Oriente, a ritzy hotel that Jose Rizal patronized.

According to Anson T Yu's The Founding of Binondo, the name Binondo was derived from the word Binunduc (or Minundok), which means a hilly place. Originally, Binondo was an hacienda owned by Don Antonio Velada. It was purchased from him in March 24, 1594 by the then governor general, Don Luis Perea Dasmarinas. The adjoining village of Baybay was also acquired and was merged with it, creating the sub-district of San Nicolas.

The idea was to create an enclave outside the walled city of Intramuros wherein the Chinese migrant workers who opted to convert to Catholicism could settle.
Hence Binondo was given to the Catholic Chinese people in perpetuity, tax-free, but with limited self-governing privileges. The Spanish government believed that such measures would encourage loyalty from the growing Chinese population and prevent another revolt.

Manila was just basically the area within the confines of Intramuros; however, by the end of the 18th century, along with Binondo and San Nicolas, the suburban towns of Trozo (Sta. Cruz) and Quiapo were eventually merged to become districts comprising Manila.

Nowadays, Binondo commands the highest real estate prices in the entire City of Manila.

Related links:
Ysla Binondo and the Chinese Revolt
Manila Daily Photo: Binondo Church's The Founding of Binondo by Anson T. Yu


posted by Señor Enrique at 7:41 AM


Anonymous Paolo said...

Last November when I was in Manila, I told my brother to give me a walking tour of Rizal Avenue, Quiapo, Binondo and Escolta but he refused. His car got stocked at Claro M. Recto near UE, where the "mother" of all heavy traffic was.

Your photos make me reminisce the glory days of youth, even though I am having a hard time framing them with my memories.

January 17, 2008 8:36 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I, too, had a tough time getting reacquainted with Manila's landscape. What made it worse was that some of the names of the streets and plazas had changed. It took me quite a bit of time to get reoriented.

Some family members also weren't too keen on taking me along to where I wanted to visit; much preferring the comfortable and controlled environment offered by our glitzy malls. Thanks to a couple of nephews whoe are easily bribed with a meal at Jolibee's, they accompanied me. :)

There were many moments of trepidation because of warnings received from family and friends, but eventually, I acclimated well enough to comfortably gallivant on my own. But then again, as in the streets of New York, one must always use his/her common sense.

I highly recommend taking a tour with Carlos Celdran and Ivan Mandy, and take along some of your femily members, too. I did with mine, and after the walking tour, they realized how little they know of the city where they live in. :)

January 17, 2008 9:40 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

I sure hope that Tomas Pinpin still has that street named after him in Binondo.

Trivia. Metrobank, aside from BankPI, also had its inauspicious start in Binondo. Thus that Binondo main branch of Metrobank must continue to be an important hub in its overall operations. Now, both banks are the largest in the country. I had the golden opportunity to work in both.

January 17, 2008 11:06 AM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

I’m not personally familiar with the old and new Manila, being a probinsyana who is still afraid of going to Binondo, Quiapo or Divisoria alone. But reading Filipino authors like Nick Joaquin and F. Sionel Jose have taught me to appreciate the old and romantic, pre-war Manila. Thanks for posting these places in Manila, Eric---very informative.

January 17, 2008 1:56 PM  

Anonymous pusa said...

wow so its like with the cemetery where they give chinese a land of their own to do their business and now has become an integral part of manila. i still have to join ivan mandy and carlos celdran tours!!! :)

thanks for the links senor, you and sidney are giving me visitors :)

January 17, 2008 3:09 PM  

Blogger jon go said...

hi eric, you know what? i read your blog everyday and i never realized that there are sooo many places to see in just manila alone! from the historic to the modern.. wow! thanks for sharing!

January 17, 2008 4:56 PM  

Blogger ScroochChronicles said...

Interesting bits of history you have there. As far as I can remember, Binondo to me was the place to eat the best chinese food in Manila (President's and Carvajal). Also the best place to find cheap t-shirts.

January 17, 2008 6:35 PM  

Blogger mitch said...


Thanks for this pics. This is exactly the area i live in when i was i manila. It's nice to know that it didn't change too much although pancake house wasn't there when i left last year.

January 17, 2008 6:54 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

Given a chance, I'd like to explore Manila again but this time it has to be different because I'd like to visit all the nooks and crannies. I believe that it will be fun!


January 18, 2008 12:22 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time, Kyels! There's so much to see and explore around town :)

January 18, 2008 7:21 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Much like Manhattan, Mitch, Manila is constantly going through a renaissance. So many new structures and establishments sprouting up.

January 18, 2008 7:23 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Best t-shirts? Like where? Hmmmm.

Yes, Scrooch, I love the dimsun at President's Tea House but for fine cuisine its branch nearby in the old Chinese theater has excellent offerings.

Finally able to check out some food at Stone Lion Restaurant on Carvajal. Interesting!

January 18, 2008 7:26 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks much, Jon!

Since you're becoming quite adept in your food photography, not to mention that you eat out often with your friends, I suggest that you guys start checking out the various eateries in Chinatown. I've a feeling you'll all love the food, as well as your taking pics of them :)

January 18, 2008 7:28 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And I assure you, Pusa, that you'll enjoy those walking tours! That was how I basically got to once again know the streets of Binondo, by having taken Ivan Mandy's walking tour of Chinatown :)

January 18, 2008 7:30 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Exploring the city with friends is the smartest and safest, Luna. However, taking one of those walking tours can be fun.

Divisoria is one place I am yet to fully explore. Matindi kasi ang crowd diyan, eh :)

January 18, 2008 7:32 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Amadeo, they haven't changed the name of T. Pinpin Street, yet ... thank God!

The building on the third pic from the bottom with the statue of Balagtas (I think since they took off the marker for repairs) is the huge Metrobank building.

And from what I was told, Metobank is now the largest banking concern in the Philippines.

January 18, 2008 7:35 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

The 2 big banks used to alternate at No. 1 position, but I guess Metrobank now has the unrivaled lead.

Trained a bit at their Binondo office before being assigned to our home province. As I recall my favorite lunch menu was machang, pickled meat with hardboiled egg and rice wrapped together in banana leaves. Delivered from a nearby Chinese store. Are you familiar with this? If not, ask around during your next visit.

Another Trivia. Metrobank owner, George Ty, also had his business start at Binondo, but that did not do so well in the end. Remember the old Freeman shirt brand? Trubenized shirts?

January 18, 2008 8:10 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Well, guess what, Amadeo? Machang was the very first I had the very first time ate at an eatery on Carvajal. And if you remember, you were the one who first made me aware of this street :)

I've been to Carvajal a few times (and regularly at that) since then and have also been buying my fruits from the vendors of that street. So, many thanks for the wonderful tip!

Yes, now I remember Trubenized shirts. If I remember it correctly, it became a generic term to described long-sleeved button down dress shirts for men, no?

It's really astonishing how Metrobank just grew to become a banking giant. Incredible sucess.

January 18, 2008 8:23 AM  

Anonymous bw said...

great piece of historical information on the history of Binondo. No wonder why the Chinese ruled this part of the city for centuries :)

January 18, 2008 11:29 PM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Eric, it must be the perennial menu of the day. Anyway, one could also order that dish in the local Chinatown here.

Yes, trubenized became generic to suggest a certain kind of shirt, especially with reference to the stiff collar.

In my personal analysis given that I worked at both institutions, Metrobank's rise is testimony to the collective sway and power of Chinese businessmen, both local and around the region. Metrobank is still their main bank, and I'm confident Binondo still serves as a main hub.

January 19, 2008 2:44 AM  

Blogger Ebb Tide said...

Love the first photo w/ the kalesa and kabayo. I enjoyed touring Manila, Binondo, Plaza Moraga, Escolata, etc. Once again, I imagined myself like a tourist riding on a kalesa and touring the old Manila that I don't remember anymore. I had been away for 40 yrs. I am glad I can view Manila through your blog. You have a good eyes for those wonderful sceneries.

January 19, 2008 2:54 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Certain areas of Manila had definitely gone through various levels of transformations, Ebb Tide; hence, like me, you'd most probably find most of the city unlike what you remember it to be.

As for the neighboring Quezon City, what astonished me the most is the entire stretch of Quezon Boulevard. Nowadays, both sides are completely occupied by various buildings; same as in Makati.

Thanks for your kind words. I guess, my pictures reveal how much I love Manila despite its ills and the the fact that I had spent more of life in New York City.

January 19, 2008 7:32 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

If you have machang in Daly City, I wouldn't be surprised if Chinatown in New York City also offers it. I probably was just not familiar to this dish back then. Hmmm ... Now I'm thinking of having one for lunch today ... hehehe.

Yes, I agree with you, Amadeo, and I'm merely basing my opinion on the incredible amount of banks in Binondo, especially along Dasmarinas Street. Goes to prove the amount of money that flows in the area due to the immense businesses of our Chinese traders.

January 19, 2008 7:38 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And I wouldn't be surprised at all, BW, that if the Spanish and Americans did not colonize the country, the Philippines would have been ruled by the Chinese much like Singapore. After all, the Chinese has been trading with the early Filipinos long before the arrival of the Europeans.

And check out how incredibly successful Singapore is now.

January 19, 2008 7:42 AM  

Anonymous J.Antonio Mendoza y González said...

The Philippines or Las Filipinas is so different from the rest of Asia. In fact, I believe that in terms of race, we should be referred to as "Pacific Islanders" and not "asian" even if we are located in Asia.

We are not connected to the mainland. We do not look like the mainland asians. We are more like Guam, Micronesia, Indonesia, etc.

It is deplorable that during American rule, they tried to remove Spanish as a local language. We are the Latins of Asia. So unique from the rest of our neighbors. The fiestas, the food, the temperament of the people makes us so unlike our asian neighbors.

Singapore may be rich, but the have no character. They destroyed all their colonial buildings and now that they are rich, they want to rebuild the no longer existent structures. We should only be so lucky to still have a lot of our heritage sites. The beautiful sites in Binondo are artistically created by the Spanish and Filipinos and we must work with passion to preserve whatever is left of it.

To quote a 19th century traveller - "Las Islas Filipinas is a latin american country swept to Asia by a giant tidal wave".

July 06, 2008 8:43 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Love that quote! Thanks for sharing :)

It's sad that our high school students no longer study Spanish as we had done years ago. Yet, the United States is fast becoming a bilingual country -- English and Spanish, that is.

As beautifully modern as Singapore is, it does seem to lack a deeply-rooted sense of spirituality to it common among olden culture and architecture.

July 06, 2008 5:30 PM  

Blogger anton said...

¡Viva la hispanidad! ¡Viva Filipinas y Viva España!

July 11, 2008 10:19 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...


July 12, 2008 7:06 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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