Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Guide To Manila Chinatown

January 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Manila 马尼拉

The Chinatown in Manila, which Filipinos call Binondo, and local Chinese refer as Chai Lai, is located just across the Pasig River opposite the Spanish walled city called Intramuros. This area originally was only for Catholic Chinese, however, non-Christian Chinese were later settled in Chinatown. While Manila and Philippines as a whole are closely associated with Catholicism, in Manila Chinatown, you will find a lot of evidence of Chinese heritage and traditional Chinese religion and institutions. Here, Spanish-influenced architecture stand with Chinese monuments and residential highrises.

Check out the Chinese Goodwill Arch, customary of Chinatowns around the world, but also note the multiple arches which act as spatial markers welcoming visitors into the Chinese cultural sphere. After passing the arches, you can find various icons, buildings, businesses and features which bring the district to life, and the street signs are mostly bilingual and some are even trilingual (Filipino, English and of course the Traditional Chinese script). Many are decorated with dragon sculptures.

The Chinese Cultural Heart
Chinatown Manila has a lot of the standard Chinatown businesses which relate to the dietary, cultural and religious customs and needs of the Chinese population of Manila. The restaurants which line the streets offer a wide range of Chinese food. Almost all kinds of fruits are sold in the streets of and if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you could try out some of the exotic fruits being offered by street vendors such as the mangosteen or the huge apple-mango. Highly popular with the Filipino Chinese residents are rambutan, longgans, lanzones and chicos.

Around the area, you will see the various traditional Chinese establishments such as the Clan associations, Taoist temples as well as Buddhist monasteries. Some of these institutions are housed in modern looking buildings while others have traditional Chinese architecture elements to them. One such temple, which is built in the Chinese architectural style, is the Philippines Chinese Buddhist Temple.

As you wander through the streets of Chinatown Manila and enjoy the sights and signs, you know you have reached the boundaries when you come across another Chinese Arch.  If you want to taste good food, purchase Chinese products, or just spend some time wandering around taking in Chinese culture, you should visit Chinatown Manila.

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