Tuesday, February 05, 2008


This was a common sight in Chinatown earlier today: people lined up to purchase boxes of tikoy for their families and friends in the spirit of the Chinese New Year. Unarguably, Chinatown exudes a festive ambiance with everyone seemingly gearing up for another boisterous celebration beginning tomorrow afternoon.

And as part of the preparations for the Chinese New Year’s celebration in Chinatown on February 7, Mayor Lim had asked those residing or holding office along Paredes, Ongpin, Gandara streets, and its vicinity to repaint their buildings to make them look better.

But what most residents and business proprietors of Binondo may be more excited about on this lunar new year is the plan to restore Chinatown's former glory -- as recently announced by Mayor Lim and the officials of Chinatown Development Authority, including Philippine Ambassador for Trade and Investments to China Francis Chua.

Should these plans materialize, Manila's Chinatown could very well become the best Chinatown in the world.

A Manila Times article cited Francis Chua as saying, “We will restore old houses, make space for parking areas, and clean up and dredge the esteros or creeks that are lined with restaurants and shops.”

Although it may appear to be a daunting task, the Chinatown Development Authority (CDA) officials remain optimistic. They have plans to build four-storey buildings on top of the esteros -- with the first two floors to be devoted to commercial spaces such as restaurants and retail outlets, while the top two floors would be used for parking.

In addition, while Francis Chua's group is also eyeing to turn the Escolta area into a night market, Mayor Lim has intentions to help reinstate the status of Binondo as one of the country's major financial centers as it once was.

Makati and Ortigas have already achieved the status of being the financial hubs of the country today, a lot of trade and financial transactions are still being conducted in Manila's Binondo district. About 70 percent of the goods sold in the provinces are directly sourced from wholesalers of Binondo. Thus, this may explain why there are about 25 bank branches lined up the one kilometer-stretch of Quintin Paredes alone; not to mention that Chinatown has the largest concentration of bank branches with over 150 local and foreign banks, including Citibank, Chinatrust, Hong Kong, Shanghai Bank, Dao Heng Bank and Lippo Bank, among others.

What exciting plans, indeed. And although I'm not that knowledgeable when it comes to building over our esteros, will remain hopeful that Mayor Lim and the CDA officials will successfully manifest their plans for a gentrified Chinatown.


posted by Señor Enrique at 9:48 PM


Blogger Panaderos said...

Given all the wealth and economic power that's concentrated in the Binondo area, I do not see any reason why such a revitalization could not take place. The only stumbling block would be the lack of support from City Hall.

I, for one, would be very glad to see this happen. It can be done. The Chinese residents there have the financial resources to make it happen. All they need is encouragement and support from City Hall.

February 06, 2008 3:01 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I've been to Binondo only once in my life. Ay naku, I need to really take a tour of Manila.

It's the Year of the Rat. I wonder what's in store for us with this "abominable" character. hehehe.

But every creature on earth was supposed to have been created by God for a good purpose. And may the rat manifest that good purpose in all of us.

Happy Chinese New Year to you, Eric, and to your readers as well. Best of luck!

February 06, 2008 7:24 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Rhoda! Wishing you the same on this Year of the Rat :)

You have got to check out Chinatown. Again, the best way, I think, is by initialliy joining Ivan Mandy's Food Wok. Later on, you can explore the area on your own with friends and family members.

Speaking of Ivan, he was featured in today's "Umagang Kay Ganda."

February 06, 2008 8:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, I agree with you, Panaderos :)

The resident and business components of Binondo have the resources to actualize these development plans!

Personally, I wouldn't mind living in the area -- if I could afford it. Binondo's real estate is supposedly the priciest in Metro Manila.

February 06, 2008 8:23 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

Anything is possible! It only takes a very concentrated and enlightened group of people (whether economically rich or poor) with a common goal to do it! Lim etal are very Chinese and proud of their heritage---as Tsinoys.

That only thing I notice that makes a place look topsy-turvy are not just the dirty esteros, shanties and garbage but also the noodle-like electric wires scattered about urban areas. I immediately noticed it when i had my first trip abroad---when I came back I immediately saw that the electric wires in our metropolis are just helter-skelter! Of course, reading back on what makes inner Manila dingy...andaming aasikasuhin!

February 06, 2008 9:40 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The Ayala's Makati have underground facilities for cable, electric and telephone lines, Bernadette. And I think some other local modern developments tout the same.

Those spaghetti-like lines that hang on posts (resembling a NYC subway map) can be annoying, especially to photographers documenting Manila's architectural gems.

I love Chinatown, though I'm not of Chinese heritage at all. It's just that I have many fond memories of it. I spent many Saturdays there during my childhood. Also, attended MIT high school which was in Doroteo Jose.

February 06, 2008 9:53 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

eng bee tin, sarap ng hopiang ube nila dyan. that's what i ask from relatives back home, hehehe. now that you mentioned tikoy, i hope i'd get my annual ration this year. ngayon ko nga lang nalaman na it comes if different flavors na pala. hahahah :D

February 06, 2008 9:56 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Every new year seems to come with new flavors for tikoy, Nell. Like for this year, they now have strawberry flavor. Amazing, eh?

As for the hopia, they come in a variety of flavors, but the original hopia monggo, to date, is my favorite :)

February 07, 2008 6:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hoy senor you have the flair for
making us filos abroad hanker for
pinoy food like kalamay tikoy - now i
want some!!

February 07, 2008 8:11 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hehehe ... but there's got to be a Pinoy or Chinese store where you are wherein you can buy some tikoy, Tina :)

February 07, 2008 8:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

senor enrique, just browsing... but found myself interested in this kind of "unpaid work" that you have brought upon yourself... pretty interesting, really! didn't think chinatown could have plain, old surprises that could merit my interest.. but the way you present it here... might as well give it a try one time! seriously,i enjoyed reading your insights here.. good job!

February 07, 2008 2:36 PM  

Blogger reyd said...

I have second thoughts of Manila Chinatown's facelift or dressing up. But I agree on cleaning up the surroundings with everyone's help.
ewan ko, parang nasanay na ako sa magulo at maingay na lugar na kinalakihan ko. If the restoration would be in order and would retain the old glory of "Ongpin"(ayan ang nakasanayan na natin na tawag sa Manila Chinatown) - then who am I to argue.

February 07, 2008 5:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

but i have to drive 3 hrs to get to melbourne to get tikoy where there are many chinese & pinoys food outlets hehe ano ako naglilihi! g'day

February 08, 2008 7:18 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh, no! Ang layo pala! Kaya next time you drive over to Melbourne and stop by a Pinoy or Chinese store, might as well get a tikoy :)

February 08, 2008 7:23 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Know what I notice, Reyd? Except for Ongpin and the few other extremely popular yet narrow streets, the rest of Binondo has quite spacious roadways which enables traffic to flow, though not at a more ideal speed. The area where Escolta is definitely needs to be gentrified, and perhaps this way, people would tend to spread out on other sections instead of congregating on the same narrow streets.

What do you think?

February 08, 2008 7:28 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Moonbie! It's folks like you that inspire me to keep doing what I'm doing, and having much fun at it :)

Appreciate your visits, indeed.

February 08, 2008 7:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

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.


About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile


This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.