Secrets From Old Manila
Getting around old Manila is never a problem despite the perennial traffic. Just hail a padyak (also known as kuliglig or pedicab), tell the driver what you want to see or where you want to go and you’ll soon be on your way to the next interesting destination.
Hungry after all that walking? One of the best places you can go to for a quick bite or a full meal is Chinatown.
It’s about a couple of blocks away from Quiapo Church, but you can also take a jeepney or a padyak or even a kalesa to get there.
Again, this part of the metro is not the cleanest or the most pleasant place to be in, but it certainly offers up great adventures for those brave enough to wander through its myriad streets.
One sight that you shouldn’t miss is the historical Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, also known as Binondo Church (after the area where it is located). San Lorenzo Ruiz is the only Filipino saint who was canonized for its devotion to the Christian faith. He lived in the general vicinity of the Binondo Church in the 1600s, serving as an altar boy and later on as a clerk-sacristan.
The church is a breathtaking structure made of rough weathered stones. It stands right at the corner of Ongpin Street, one of the most common gateways to the heart of Chinatown. Right in front is the Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz where a medium-sized fountain gushes all day long.
Food Stop – Chinese or Filipino?
From this point forward, it would seem as if you have been transported to a different country altogether because the entire neighbourhood is done up in colourful Chinese reds and golds, and most of the shop names are written in both Chinese and English.
Lots and lots of authentic Chinese restaurants as well as Filipino restaurants line both sides of Ongpin Street and the streets branching off of it.
You can eat at Estero (meaning creek-side), a small series of eateries right on the bank of the creek that traverses parts of Chinatown. The food is good, affordable and prepared in sanitary fashion, despite the location. There’s a wide selection of dishes to choose from so you’re sure to find something you’ll like.
There’s also the ever-famous Eng Bee Tin Hopia House, where you can load up on mooncakes, hopia and other Chinese goodies to satisfy your palate. Almost everything comes in different flavours like cheese, ube, nangka and pandan.
Shop Till You Drop In ChinaTown
Of course, food isn’t the only thing you can purchase in Chinatown. There are furniture shops, jewelry stores, mini-grocery stores and electrical supply shops—a one-stop kind of place for anyone who needs just about anything.
Ongpin is just a few blocks away from the central shopping district of Old Manila—168 Mall, Divisoria, 999 Mall and others.
You’d certainly come home from your holiday laden with all sorts of great buys.