Days before classes will start and before the streets of Binondo/Chinatown shall become super-hyper-mega-ultra congested, I had the pleasure of conquering it by foot in a 4-hour power walk tour through “Old Manila Walks.” Thanks to our tour guide, Ivan Mandy who was very Chinese from head to foot…
The tour was not much feast for the eyes but more for the tummy. This is a classic example of learning through your tongue! Opps, “palate” for more finesse. We got 6 food stops in 4 hours, so that’s about eating every 40 minutes.
The food are, as expected, very Chinese, but there were some which I found interesting like the (chicken) eggs boiled in tea, the fried siopao, the Chinese lumpia or spring roll which tasted so good, and the “kiampeng”- fried rice that has the reputation of being a “peasant food” in China. Below is an image of a Chinese delicacy described as the “pineapple cake” which is as important as the “tikoy” on Chinese New Year.
In our visit to a Buddhist temple, I noticed red plastic plates with writings in yellow hanging on the walls of the temple.Our tour guide explained that these are donations made by devotees with their names and the amount of their respective donations in Chinese (there were also some done in English). It shall hang on the walls of the temple for a year before they are replaced (hopefully, higher than the previous plates :>).
(Donation wall in a Hindu Temple)
The tour was also part historical. I know not much of my (Filipino) history but I realized I should have listened more in my history class to fully appreciate what I have seen in the tour. Even then, when I saw structures which serve as living testatment of history, I valued my history more. Example is the building of the first bank in the Philippines which is the Monte de Piedad Savings Bank of Spain.
(Building of the first bank of the Philippines)
Another is the Plaza Carriedo named after the person who was responsible for the first water system in Manila.
(Plaza Carriedo, Sta. Cruz, Mla.)
Escolta was likewise interesting because of its old, art-deco buildings. Our generation may not know much of Escolta now except being familiar on how it sounds but generations before us have so much stories to tell because it was during their time that Escolta was very popular. Our tour guide described Escolta as the “Greenbelt” several decades back. The edifice below may not be the most breathtaking, but I found interest in it because as our tour guide described it, the architect is Andres Luna, the son of Juan Luna, the great Filipino painter of the “Spolarium” who is a native of Badoc, Ilocos Norte.
It is only during this tour that I have appreciated the Manila Post Office building. I pass by it everynow and then, I go get my registered mails from this building sometimes, I know that it is a landmark in Manila, but I never knew how beautiful and majestic it was until I saw it in its full glory. I don’t know much about architecture but from the eyes of an ordinary person like me, I have appreciated it as a piece of art, more than a landmark of historical. significance.
Manila Post Office Building:
To close, the tour was not only heavy on the walk and the tummy, but also heavy on the information of Chinese-Filipino culture in the Philippines.