After having an overdose of Pinoy arts, culture and heritage for less than an hour at the National Museum last Sunday, I decided to go to Binondo, Manila to have my late lunch in Chinatown. Another visit in that stretch of Manila populated mostly by Chinese and Chinese-Filipinos or Tsinoys who basically are merchants and businessmen, gave me added sense of appreciation to one of the earliest commercial districts in the country. Commerce, religion and culture are apparently rich in this part of Manila.
First stop: Binondo Church a.k.a MINOR BASILICA & NATIONAL SHRINE of SAN LORENZO RUIZ
As sourced from Wikipilinas :
Founded by the Dominican priests in 1596, Binondo Church is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in the Philippines. It was administered by the Secular Priests in 1768, returned to Dominican Administration in 1822 and back to Secular Priests in 1898.
The Binondo Church is located in front of a plaza and across Juan Luna Street which go through the busy Divisoria markets.
I LOVE FOUNTAINS. I like seeing and hearing drizzle of water. I like architecture.
Binondo’s fountain at the Plaza de San Lorenzo Ruiz, although far from the grandiose Fontana di Trevi in Rome that I long to visit one day, is a beauty on its own. I just hope that it will be well maintained and preserved by the local government coupled with observance of cleanliness from the by-standers and passers-by.
On the right side of Binondo Church is Ongpin Street, which takes you to Manila Chinatown. Taking a stroll from Binondo to Sta Cruz has been my once-in-a-while habit done whenever I feel like having enough of malls and a breather between work and home. Last time I went to Ongpin was during the Chinese New Year celebration. It felt good to revisit.
The sidewalks of Ongpin Street do not only offer Chinese restaurants and eateries but more colorful sights to behold.
But then again, I am bias to gastronomic treats from Chinatown… I go to Ongpin for authentic dimsums, noodles, and other Chinese dishes plus that ENG BEE TIN HOPIA or mung beans! Sarap! Even our relatives in Auckland,New Zealand now in Melbourne, Australia only wanted those as pasalubong last time we visited them.
I don’t have hyperuricemia or gouty arthritis yet, LOL, so there’s still time to enjoy those hopia. Do you like hopia ? What flavors do you crave ? There a lot now offered in Eng bee tin – ube, pork, pandan, etc… but my greatest favorite is the red mung beans! So I bought some for myself and as pasalubong to my wife Tina and son Gabby. My 4-year-old son loves it too.
Each 4 red mung beans / hopia packed in colored coded plastic is sold at PhP 32.
The sidestreets also have other good buys such as fruits, fancy chinese accessories and other oriental ornaments…
Other than Vigan in Ilocos Sur (a cobblestoned streets with colonial houses that were built long before Spanish period in the Philippines, a must-visit-UNESCO heritage city – province at the far north of the Philippines), it’s in Intramuros and Binondo areas where one can still see kalesas…
I only failed to ask the kucheros how much would it cost per ride within Chinatown and I haven’t tried it yet. Probably when I go back when my mood and Manila weather jive…
If God’s will years from now, since Tina and I already decided to build our dream home with contemporary Asian interiors and architecture, I wish to have a pair of Fu lions a.k.a. Chinese guardian lion statues believed to have mystic powers that have traditionally stood in front of Chinese temples, Imperial palaces, emperors’ tombs, and entrances of homes and offices since the rule of different dynasties until present times.
The Fu /Foo lions always come in pair – the male playing a ball and the female lion statue with her cub.
At the end of a 15-minute-walk from Binondo to Ongpin in Chinatown, it pays to visit Sta. Cruz Church. In front of the Sta Cruz Church is the Carriedo fountain. It should have been more pleasing if not for those electric cables that go haywire as a clear proof that Manila is a city in a third-world country and that begs for much improvement. The fountain too is gradually degraded by the moss or fungi that grow in its glory. Sayang! Mas matanda pa ata sa lola ko itong Carriedo Fountain…
The end of my lunch date with Manila’s sunshine was capped by a short visit to Sta. Cruz Church…
I always pass by this church on way home from work but seldom get to visit for the hurry to beat the rush hour traffic. What makes Sta. Cruz Church beautiful isn’t only its exterior but the main altar. It’s made of colorful mosaic of a lamb shedding its blood flowing to the Holy Host. It’s an artistic representation of Kordero ng Diyos (lamb of God) or God the Father’s Son who gave His life for our salvation. The altar is so poetic.
I am familiar with this since childhood whenever we’re brought by our parents here for our annual Visita Iglesia every Holy Week…
Even the doors of Sta Cruz Church have inclinations to chinese arts.
I enjoyed my three hours of being alone in Manila last Sunday. It was perfect to start a new work week.