Binondo, one of the districts located in the Philippine’s capital city of Manila, covers a landmass of 66 hectares (0.66 square kilometers). The district is also considered as the world’s oldest Chinatown.
There are many routes to take if you want to enter Manila’s Chinatown, and one of them is the Goodwill arch.
It’s located next to the China Town Gold Center along Ronquillo Street in Carriedo; the arch itself is adjacent to Santa Cruz Church and Carriedo Fountain.
Spending Chinese New Year in the world’s oldest Chinatown in the world was definitely an unforgettable experience.
Upon entering Ongpin Street, which is the main street of Binondo, at about 2 p.m. on February 16, we were immediately greeted by this huge crowd of spectators watching the street performers do what they do best.
Moving forward was tough, as Ongpin Street was packed with so many people. Some of them were just there to shop for fruits or Chinese delicacies, while others attended the festival to soak in the Chinese-Filipino culture and experience.
Aside from its very rich culture, Binondo is also famous for other things, from vendors of lucky charms to large shopping centers dedicated to jewelry and gold.
Further down the road are many other establishments, including a hotel, commercial centers, and the district’s ever-so popular restaurants. There was also a shrine on the corner of Tomas Pinpin Street dedicated to Sto Cristo De Longos De Binondo.
Of course, Chinese New Year in the Philippines wouldn’t be complete without the popular delicacy for Chinese-Filipinos in the country: tikoy.
Tikoy (Hokkien), which is also known in Cantonese as Nian Gao, is a widely popular dish in the Philippines at this time of the year. This delicacy is usually given out as gifts before Chinese New Year and it is often part of any Chinese-Filipino household feast.
There are also parades that roam the narrow streets of Binondo – but they are mostly on Ongpin.
It was unfortunate that we didn’t get to watch the famous lion dragon dance in Binondo. We did, however, get to see a lion dragon parade.
There were those who did not venture the streets of Ongpin during 2018 Chinese New Year. Some just enjoyed the spectacle through their house’ window.
Surprisingly, cosplayers also went to Binondo to showcase their amazing costumes. There was Bumblebee from the “Transformers” film series and also Sun Wukong, also known as Monkey King – at least, a version of him.
Chinese New Year in Binondo is definitely an unforgettable experience. Was it tiring? Heck yeah! But it was so worth it, especially for a Chinese-Filipino like me who wanted to fully embrace my second culture and rediscover my Chinese roots.
There’s something about the place that somehow makes me feel like I’m at home. Maybe it’s the smell of dumplings and roasted chicken and duck in the air, the sound of customers and shop owners bartering and people chatting, and the sound of cars, jeepneys and motorcycles in the distance that makes Chinatown so appealing.
Happy New Year everyone and best wishes to you all! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
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