Binondo is Manila’s Chinatown. As you passby Jones bridge into the plaza leading to the Chinatown welcome archway, you get transported into a different world. Ever since I was a kid, my mom used to bring me to Escolta during her PNB days and I’ve never understood and get to appreciate what Chinatown really is. The history behind it, the culture, and the oddities have always been a mystery to me. I’ve always been fascinated by Binondo but at the same time scared because of the horror stories that can happen with you in this place.

Thank you to Ivan ManDy, the self proclaimed Street Walker in Old Manila, who passionately organized the Big Binondo Bowl walking tours to show people what Binondo really is. You would completely feel safe when you are with Ivan in Binondo. Who wouldn’t be, since Ivan seems to know half of the people in Chinatown. It is like going into a college campus where he would say hi to most of the people walking in the streets. I was always afraid to bring my huge camera with me in Binondo but during the tour, I really took the opportunity to shoot and shoot. The Big Binondo Bowl started as an architectural/ cultural tour of Old Manila but it got popularized into a culinary tour of Binondo.

Each of the Binondo scenes below have interesting stories to tell. I would not attempt to tell it since only Ivan can do justice to the stories. Check this out…

Lucky Charms. Ever wondered what are these for?

Buddhist Temple. Being a christian, you would always wonder what a buddhist temple would look like and why the temple is important to Chinese culture.

Post Office. Ever wondered why the post office is here and why chinatown is located across the bridge?

Binondo Church. This is the first time I noticed the paintings on top. Ivan gives you the story of those paintings.

Sandals and Slippers made in Binondo?

Altar/ Shrine on the street. This is the first time that I understood the what and why of this altar from Ivan.

Natural Medicines. Would you eat this even if this was the only medicine available to cure your sickness?

The Three Stooges in Chinese. Meet Shu (God of longevity), Lock (God of Virtue) and Hock (God of Luck).