Posted by Ed 5 mths ago
 A walk through Manila’s Chinatown reveals its blended cultural identity and the legacies—places of worship, dishes to worship—of the Chinese Filipinos.
 With its lofty dome and high renaissance lines, the four-centuries-old church of Binondo, the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, seems no different from other Spanish colonial-era churches in Manila. However, look closely and its ethnic character becomes apparent.
“The façade is that of an old church, and it’s got everything you’d expect from such a structure,” my guide Ivan Man Dy points out. “But notice the bell tower’s octagonal shape and red color—it’s like a Chinese temple. Spend some time in Binondo and you’ll realize it’s a melting pot of Filipino, Chinese and Spanish cultures.”

You can credit this fusion to a long history of peaceful coexistence with the natives. When the Spanish first came to the Philippine islands in 1521, they found that xiang lei— Fujianese merchants from the southern Chinese coast—had been living and trading here for centuries. After Manila was made the capital of the Spanish East Indies in 1571, the sangleyes (as the Spaniards called them) were Christianized and relocated to the area of Binondo— thus starting what could arguably be the world’s oldest Chinatown.
I am spending the day exploring this locale with Ivan, a prominent cultural and historical guide who has taken academics, Nobel laureates and celebrities (among them the late Anthony Bourdain) around his hometown in order to showcase its mixed heritage.


Ed 5 mths ago

Ed 5 mths ago

Ed 5 mths ago

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