Tag Archive: chinatown

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.

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)