Last Saturday, I have fulfilled my dream of going to Binondo, aka Chinatown here in Manila (at long last). I saw my chance last August 20 when I saw this advert in Starweek for the Big Binondo Food Wok. For some reason i have been drawn to Binondo since time immemorial. Some of my friends said that it's because I want to "get in touch" with my heritage (my paternal lola
The tour started at the lobby of the Binondo church. We were a pretty big group with a lot of local tourists plus Mr. Sidney Snoeck, a Belgian who made the Philippines his home. There's also Eric, aka Señor Enrique who is quite the traveler. We started a bit late but everything was worth the wait.
As we walked along the streets of Binondo, we all had a bit of everything: Spanish chocolate, fried rice, soup, dumplings, pancakes, noodles, eggs... basically your typical Chinese fare (except for the chocolate), only it's in Binondo. Everything was oh, so delectable, appetizing, scrumptious, mouth-watering, all the good adjectives that you can think of about food. Chinese food is easily one of my favorites simply because... it's Chinese. No more, no less. And in between walking and food tasting, we also learned a bit of Binondo's history.
It was very, very interesting to know that Binondo was once a hacienda until it was developed for business. Even if it's not the main business hub in Manila anymore, it still retains its title as the wholesale capital of the Philippines. As for the Binondo church, it was bombed during World War 2 and all that was left at the time was the facade and the bell tower. The church was restored after the war but Ivan (the tour guide) said that even with the restoration, it just wasn't the same as before it was bombed. I think so too. Personally I think that original structures are better (unless they were destroyed in the war), that's why the government should RESTORE them instead of tearing them down and building shopping malls. No wonder not a lot of Filipinos appreciate their culture and history.
The tour is essentially a gastronomically, not to mention a historically-slash-culturally fulfilling one. I will definitely go on another tour of old manila next time.
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Click here to know more about the Binondo Food Wok plus some. Take a walk along the streets of Old Manila, where, i assure you, everything and i mean everything you see and learn is worth it.