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The Old: A Bustling Town Called Binondo

February 26, 2018

**Thank you, Google for all the photos and research done for this article.

We cannot move forward without knowing our history. Let us look back to where it all started.

To date, Manila is the Capital of the Philippines. It was established on June 24, 1571, and is known to be “The Pearl of the Orient.” Its population is around 1,876,194 and has a total area of 38.3 square meters or 14.94 square miles. Its ethnic composition is 94% Christian Malay and 6% Chinese. In this developing city, you can find Manila’s Chinatown. It is the melting pot of financial prosperity and cultural mixture of the heritage of Pinoys and Chinoys (Chinese-Filipino) here in Manila. One of the inhabitants that stayed and prospered in this nation is the Chinese.

They too like other transient race contributed a lot to the economic growth and success of this nation. They created companies that gave jobs to a lot of Filipinos thus, improving everyone’s life and making the country a better place to live in. With this, they started their own community and named it Binondo.

According to research—The Philippine National Artist Nick Joaquin said that the name might have been derived from an old Tagalog term “binondoc” which means mountainous terrain referring to its physical appearance during that time. The Chinese were allowed by the Spaniards to stay in the country because of their skills – painters, scribes, tailors, carpenters, masons, smiths, butchers, cooks, printers, and accountants. This is no doubt the start of a thriving civilization of skilled workers.

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Binondo is the heart of the modern community of the world’s first Chinatown. It was established in 1594 by Luis Dasmarinas. Some of the prominent residents of this heritage-rich town are – St. Lorenzo Ruiz. He is a Filipino-Chinese who became a protomartyr. Venerable Ignacia del Espiritu Santo who is known as Mother Ignacia is A Filipino Religious Sister of the Roman Catholic Church and the founder of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary is also a resident of Binondo.

Binondo is the home of the first Filipino painter Tomas Pinpin aka “The Prince of the Filipino Painters.” He is also named after one of the streets of Binondo. During the revolution of 1896, the Good Samaritan Roman Ongpin lived in this town and generously helped the revolutionaries. Now, he is remembered and is named after one of the famous streets of this culturally rich town.

In the old downtown district of Binondo, there is a street named Escolta. This was constructed in 1594 and was the premier business and commercial district (now undergoing urban renewal) during its glory days. Its hay day housed the 1st American Style Department Store (Beck’s) and has buildings of both Spanish and American Architecture. It is now being revived to its former glory as “The Queen of the Streets.”

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Binondo has gone thru war and the scenes have changed through the years. But surely, it did not change its prestige and its ability to serve the Filipino People and the Chinese Community. With this mix of culture and history, it is now the home to a lot of entrepreneurs, commercial and retail establishments, multinational companies, medical, educational and financial institutions.

Read our second part to know more about this crowd thronged community “The New: A Bustling Town Called Binondo.”

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