Tag Archive: Binondo

How often do we entertain foreign guests and balikbayan (returning Filipinos) family and friends?



I’ve done quite a few — from long weekend trips in mountain villages up North or to some beach destinations down South to whole day together-ness via roadtrips north or south of Manila. And for the briefest encounters……. There’s THE DRILL. A glimpse into over 300 years under Spanish rule (Fort Santiago y Intramuros) + the heart and core of Chinatown (a.k.a. Binondo Walk cum Foodtrip) + end-of-day relaxation along Manila Bay interspersed with brief food tripping episodes.




Rizal Park


Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila



By itself, the Rizal Park-Intramuros-National Museum can take a whole day already. But who wants to do long walks at 39 Celsius in humid April? I say the Museum can wait and the Park can easily be a “drive-thru”. We were first driven to Fort Santiago (entrance: 75 pesos, 50 pesos for students) passing Rizal Park (Dr. Rizal is the national hero), and then walked from Fort Santiago towards San Agustin Church, the oldest surviving church in this predominantly Catholic country. If there’s time, you can visit the Museum housed in the Convent adjoining the Church or visit Casa Manila (showcasing Filipino-Spanish lifestyle) just off the church corner. Or you can choose to sit on a horse-drawn carriage (the cheaper calesa or the pricey caruaje) sightseeing for the next hour or two. The choices depend on how much time you have. In some instances, I totally skipped Fort Santiago and instead visited Baluarte de San Diego. More trees there. Ergo, more shade!




The National Art Gallery which used to be Legislative Building


Baluarte de San Diego in Intramuros, Manila



From Intramuros, you can either take a cab or a jeepney or drive past the Museum and City Hall across Jones Bridge overlooking the lovely Postal Office to reach Binondo. Hungry or not, a Binondo Walk is never complete without dropping in on those “hole in the wall” spots. My personal favorites are Po Heng Lumpia House and Dong Bei Dumpling House. Need I tell you what they serve?




Chinese Lumpia (Vegetable Roll) from the best : Po Heng Lumpia House in Binondo, Manila.


Dumplings or Sio-Mai. Freshly Made!


Kutchay Siomai or Dumplings with Chives Fillings. Only from that hole-in-the-wall, Dong Bei Dumpling House in Binondo, Manila.



Finally done with Hispanic Philippines (Intramuros) and Chinoy Philippines (Binondo Chinatown)? Maybe it’s time for a cup of Cappuccino in Harbour Square within the reclaimed area housing the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theatre and Philippine International Convention Center. It’s your modern Philippines complete with junk food outlets lining the Bay. Grab a bite here, if you like. Many choices across a wide price range. This is also a superb place to unwind or chill while waiting for the famous Manila Bay Sunset.




Manila Bay, viewed from Harbour Square in the CCP Complex near Cultural Center of the Philippines.


Roxas Boulevard near Manila Bay. At Twilight.

WHO IS JONES? Why was this oldest bridge in the Philippines named Jones Bridge?




Puente de Espana, then Jones Bridge, to honor the man behind the Jones Act granting independence to the Philippine Islands.



WILLIAM ATKINSON JONES. Member of US House of Representatives from 1891 to 1918. Right about the same period when the US bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 million. Imagine that. US$20Million for 7,107 islands.




The Post Office Building and the Jones Bridge. Two landmarks rich in history.



Back to the question — why was the bridge named after Rep. William Atkinson Jones? Used to be called Puente de España since it was built in 1701 spanning over Pasig River and connecting Binondo to the core of the capital city of Manila. Originally done by Juan Arellano in the Neo-Classical design but destroyed and renamed Jones Bridge by the US Colonial Government in 1916 to honor the man who sponsored the bill, later enacted into law, granting independence to the Philippines. Bombed out in World War II, this formerly ornate arch bridge was yet again rebuilt but in simpler design after 1945. The oldest bridge in the country.




Not my copy. Credits to Old Manila Nostalgia.



When Jones died in 1918, the Philippines paid for the marker on his grave in gratitude for the Jones Act which granted Philippine Independence. So much history behind this bridge across Pasig River with a bonus grand view of yet another landmark, the Postal Office of Manila. Next time you head for Binondo or Chinatown and cross this bridge from Plaza Lawton, think Philippine Independence. 😉

Thought I’d line up my blogs on “walks and drives” around Manila for those who are interested. In many of these walks and drives, a good 4 hours may be enough. Likely less if you just want to concentrate on a certain area. You can walk around, hop on and off your car or some public transport, combine 2 trips and plan a good lunch in-between, or simply visit a Museum to linger for the next couple of hours. If you’re with children, I’d most certainly advise planning a good meal after 2 hours or so. Attention span and all, you know. A good meal never fails, and I’d usually have the first leg as the “more serious walk through history” and make sure the 2nd post-meal leg involves some window shopping (a.k.a. “Street desserts” and other sweet munchies) or less serious history stuff or simply more open spaces.








Say Hello to “Mi Ultimo Adios”

San Agustin Church in Intramuros

Four Hours To Waste in Manila

Some Photographs From Manila

Universidad de Santo Tomas (UST)

Baluarte De San Diego in Intramuros

Paco Park



Dummy Goes To The National Museum

National Art Gallery: Searching For More Lunas

Up Close: Luna and Hidalgo

Hidalgo and Luna: Genius Has No Country



A Preview of the Cemetery Tour: Wait Till The Shoe Lady Dies

The Old (and Dead) Rich of La Loma

A Nearly-Forgotten Panchong in North Cemetery



Angono: Art Capital of thePhilippines

Silangan Gardens and Pinto Art Gallery

Antipolo’s Suman, Kasuy and Pan Lechon?



CHINATOWN & Other sites

A Walking Tour of Binondo

Binondo Walk With Kids

The Street Vendors Of Manila

Harbour Square in CCP Complex



Urban Escapades

Weekend At The Pen

HOTEL CELESTE: A Pleasant Staycation




Just How Do You Eat Alagao?

What To Feed Your Guests (Part 1)

What To Feed Your Guests (Part 2)

Vieux Chalet in Antipolo

Pinoy Ice Cream? Check This Out!


Siomai. Fried Siopao. Tea Eggs. Champoy. Lumpia. Hao Flakes. Hopia. Adults can easily be swayed to join you in this trip with the prospect of eating all these stuff, but how about the kids? Does Chinatown have the same appeal to them?

I started off with Chinatown being the oldest Chinatown in the whole world. Like the “Sangleys” or Chinoys of pre-Hispanic era living in the area now known as Intramuros. Then the Spaniards came, and the Sangleys were driven out of the Walled City to live across the Pasig River. Or how about the Binondo Church being where our very first Saint Lorenzo Ruiz served as altar boy? We started off with a visit to this Church and Mamu just had to have this trivia drilled into their heads. 😉

Inside Binondo Church Where San Lorenzo Ruiz Served As Altar Boy

From Binondo Church, we stepped out and got ready for our walk. But not without pointing out the area (Masangkay) towards all those dilapidated ancestral houses where Rizal’s parents lived after having been evicted from their home in Calamba, Laguna. With that, I promised to stop with my history lessons. Three historical tidbits enough for this morning. Enough.

Dumplings from Dong Bei @Yuchengco Street off Ongpin

This is a food trip. And that’s a promise. First order of the day is to show the ‘elves’ that there are dumplings other than the ones from Hen Lin. 🙂

Siomai at P80 for 10 pieces?

We were a few minutes too early, and had to wait for Dong Bei @Yunchengco Street off Ongpin St. to open at 10am. Hungry for our taste of Chinese food, we watched and waited. Those dumplings didn’t let us down 🙂

Tried this myself, good buy for P35!

From Yuchengco Street, we trooped back to Ongpin Street where we passed this grocery store with frozen delights upfront for the elves not to miss. Korean ice cream, woo hoo! It wasn’t so hot this morning, but those ice cream sandwiches must have “cooled” them enough for the “wok”. The elves are happy.

Fried Siopao

Tea Eggs & Siopao

Turning left from Ongpin Street towards Benavidez, we found this corner restaurant selling fried siopao and more! No tea eggs for the little ones, but we went inside to check out what’s on offer for the P150-P200 lunch sets. 3-for-one means choosing 3 viands from the “turo-turo” spread, and your cuppa of rice. Not bad.

Happy to Find Happy, Delicious Kitchen!

3 viands for P150. 4 viands for P180. Simple enough.

Errr, which ones?

Walking some more, we found this bakery shop. You wouldn’t think this bakeshop is not somewhere in Makati.

Baked Goodies from Chinatown

Then the must-stop pasalubong shop: Eng Bee Tin. Found a 2-bite siopao here, which Martin proudly claims he can turn into a one-bite siopao. Cute-sy.

One bite or Two-Bite Siopao?

We also passed some structures which have historical significance. Sadly, a major repair job is in order.

Residence of Higino Francisco

And this was a place where Noli Me Tangere was safekept?

Isn’t it awful? The authorities should do something about this. Higino Francisco is a revolutionary patriot who even plotted to rescue Dr. Rizal in the Bagumbayan execution. He was dissuaded of course, but for his friendship and patriotism, Jose Rizal gifted him with the original manuscript of Noli Me Tangere. Our national hero then thought that the manuscript would fetch a price later, but Higino chose to return the manuscript to Teodora Alonzo, the mother of our hero. Admirable. He died in 1921. But between you and me, who has heard of Higino Francisco?


Now, that really gets me all mad!!!!

(Also check out an earlier blog on Chinatown. Just click on this link)


We get this all the time.  Foreigners in the workplace telling us that Filipinos tend to eat every so often.  Lunch is no sandwich and a fruit.  Neither is it a half hour break.  Naaaah.  That one hour lunch break can easily stretch to a couple of hours, often blaming the traffic for not getting back soon enough. These days,  there are many joints a walking distance from the offices. But lunch is lunch, and every Filipino observes it not just as a break from work but also as a chance to chat away the blues and break the monotony of working behind a desk. As for snacks or mid-day “mini-meals”?   That’s when it is more likely to find Filipinos eating that sandwich or fruit.  But the hardcore ones would still crave for their carbo fix:  a noodle dish, rice porridge or rice cakes.  In between lunch and that midday mini-meal, don’t be surprised to find them munching peanuts, pork cracklings, chips, or splitting pumpkin seeds.


Taho. Best for breakfast!

Sago at Gulaman


Luckily for us,  there is no shortage of food to be found and bought.  Stuck in a traffic jam?  No worries.   The street vendors plying the main roads sell anything from peanuts to pork cracklings to boiled eggs to mint candies to fruits to bottled water to “fish balls, squid balls and shrimp balls”. Boiled bananas, boiled peanuts, even corn on the cob! Walking the streets of Manila is an adventure.  Every tourist should try this.  Buying street food is very much a part of every Filipino’s way of life.  And there’s more to be found in urban centers like Manila, where folks are supposed to be “busier” than their counterparts in the provinces who may have the time and energy to cook their own meals and snacks.

Halo Halo!


As it is summer, try going to San Andres Market, a stone’s throw from Malate Church.   You can get your freshest fruits here to eat, or to be made into a fruit shake.   You can’t go wrong with a 10 peso fruit shake (less than US $0.25) or the local “halo-halo” (literally means “mix-mix”) for 20 pesos (less than US$0.50). I strongly suggest you try the halo-halo which is a mixture of  sweetened fruits, ice shavings and milk, topped with a local sweetened ube yam. You can’t be more Filipino than that!



Or you may want to head all the way to Chinatown for your dimsum fix and other foodstuff.  The street vendors here range from those selling fruits, vegetables and cooked food to those selling almost anything you need to get from an honest-to-goodness hardware and supermarket.  Around Quiapo Church,  you can buy your religious icons,  candles,  fans (strongly suggested on hot, humid days) , flower garlands, brooms (yes, brooms),  fruits, vegetables , squash flowers, and fish (live, dead, smoked or dried!).  From Quiapo Church through Santa Cruz Church to Binondo Church,  you will find street stalls selling footwear, garments and again,  more foodstuff.  There is an alley near the Binondo Church called Carvajal where I wanted to buy almost everything I laid my eyes on!  Forget the diet.  There is so much to buy here to take home as TV dinners.  Sushi?  Taho? Meat loaf?  Rice cakes?  


Barbequed Pork and Innards. Guess what!

Puto Bumbong

You may also want to check out more photos from my TravelBlog site