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Binondo–world’s oldest Chinatown–turns 430

(Photo courtesy: Manila PIO)

Binondo in Manila celebrated on February 1 its 430th year making it as the oldest Chinatown in the world. 

Established in 1594, Binondo has served as the center of Chinese commerce and migration in the Philippines for over four centuries. 

To mark the occasion, the Manila City government organized a Prosperity Tree Lighting ceremony at Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo. It also signified the start of the Chinese New Year celebration on February 10.

(Photo courtesy: Manila PIO)

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan was joined  in the cultural event by City Administrator Bernardito Ang, Manila 3rd District Representative Atty. Joel Chua, councilors from the third district, and Manila Chinatown Development Council Executive Director Willord Chua. Different Filipino-Chinese organizations also joined the celebration.

Binondo stands not only as a testament to resilience but also as a living testament to the rich interweaving of Chinese and Filipino cultures. Here’s why:

A tapestry of history

(Photo courtesy: Megaworld)

Founded in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Chinese immigrants, Binondo has since evolved into a dynamic and pulsating neighborhood. Its narrow alleys and bustling markets whisper tales of centuries gone by, establishments preserving the footprints of generations.

Binondo has weathered storms, both literal and metaphorical, emerging as a symbol of endurance and adaptability. From colonial periods to revolutions, the streets of this Chinatown have witnessed history unfold, becoming a living archive of the Philippines' diverse cultural journey.

Cultural fusion

The Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch at Binondo at night time. (Contributed photo)

The essence of Binondo lies not only in its historical roots but also in its ability to fuse cultures seamlessly. Filipino-Chinese families have thrived here for generations, creating a unique cultural tapestry. The harmonious blend of traditional Chinese rituals with Filipino customs is evident in the vibrant celebrations, such as the Chinese New Year, where dragon dances entwine with local festivities.

Culinary haven

Binondo isn't just a repository of history; it's a gastronomic delight that tantalizes the taste buds with a blend of flavors. Home to iconic eateries serving authentic Chinese-Filipino dishes, such as dumplings, hopia, and pancit, Binondo is a haven for food enthusiasts seeking a savory journey through time.

Economic hub

(Photo courtesy: Megaworld)

Beyond its cultural significance, Binondo plays a crucial role in the economic lifeblood of Manila. Its streets are lined with shops, trading houses, and businesses that contribute to the city's economic vibrancy. The entrepreneurial spirit that first brought the Chinese to Binondo in the 16th century still echoes in the bustling markets and trading posts.

Its legacy lives on

(Photo courtesy: Manila PIO)

As it celebrates its 430th year, the significance of this historic enclave in the lives of Filipinos cannot be overstated. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of a community that has embraced change while preserving its identity. The people of Binondo, through their traditions, rituals, and daily lives, continue to shape the cultural landscape of the Philippines.

Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world, stands as a living testament to the harmonious coexistence of diverse cultures. As it marks its 430th year anniversary, the celebration goes beyond the passing of time; it is a salute to Filipino-Chinese resilience, adaptation, and the vibrant fusion of both heritage. Binondo's legacy is etched not only in the bricks of its historic buildings but also in the hearts of the people who call it home, ensuring that its rich tapestry continues to weave its story for generations to come. (SDL/PIA-NCR)

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Susan De Leon

Assistant Regional Head


IO 3

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