Showing posts with label Binondo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Binondo. Show all posts

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chio Sai Siong Hong Kong Temple 石狮城皇公廟 in Manila Chinatown

Chinese New Year celebrations in Manila Chinatown have become extremely crowded, commercial, and in a way, adulterated – with the unwelcome aswangs, drag queens and ati-atihan groups going around and asking for money (they are obviously out of place); sometimes, I lose motivation to experience the festivities. But I was pleasantly surprised that outside Chinese New Year, there are other colorful celebrations in Binondo, Manila, such as temple feasts, if you know when and where to look for them (dates change with the lunar calendar too).

One of them is at the Chio Sai Siong Hong Kong Temple 石狮城皇公廟 where they celebrate annually the "birthday" of the Taoist deity Siong Hong Kong 城皇公, whose devotion originates from Chio Sai or Shishi City in Fujian, China. I realized San Fernando, Pampanga also has its own Jeosay Shinhongkong Temple meaning the forebearers who brought the images to the Philippines may have come from the same hometown.

So on Araw ng Maynila (good thing it was a holiday, no traffic), we were in Binondo first thing in the morning to watch a colorful procession leave the temple, go through the streets of Binondo and Santa Cruz, and return to the temple on Tomas Pinpin Street. It had all the makings of a community celebration without any trace of commercial advertising. Rather than brave the crowds on Chinese New Year, fight for space to watch the lion and dragon dances, or jostle for limited seats in our favorite restaurants, this was perfect! No tourists taking selfies here!

Fireworks announced the start of the procession. It was led by the temple banners, followed by the first carroza (yes, a Catholic carroza borrowed from the Binondo Church) with several Taoist deities with sampaguita leis. The drum and lyre band of Philippine Sun Yat Sen High School came after. It was quite amusing hearing the band play "Happy Birthday" every now and then for Siong Hong Kong.

Performing in the middle of the procession were lion and dragon dances.

Devotees bearing on their shoulders the century-old image of Santo Siong Hong Kong 城皇公 on a small wooden platform then followed. Everyone was in red!

At the end of the procession was yet another Catholic carroza with two Taoist deities, one of them Hu Din Ma. You could definitely see the fusion between different cultures here in the Philippines.

Back at the temple, the images were brought inside one by one beginning with Siong Hong Kong. They seemed to follow a particular order of entrance into the temple. Candies and coins were thrown for good luck. And the community partook of cha mi sua or misua guisado once the ceremonies were over.

Thank you to Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks for letting me know about this! Since the celebration follows the lunar calendar, dates vary every year.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Manila: Chinatown food trip & staycation in Binondo

Who would have thought a staycation in Manila was a viable option? We got to experience one during Chinese New Year at Ramada Manila Central in Binondo where we spent the night before the Lunar New Year. It was a very convenient way of enjoying Manila Chinatown cuisine and the festivities the next day within walking distance from where we were staying.

In fact, as soon as we were done checking-in at the hotel, we went straight for dim sum at President Tea House. Restaurants were full that night since it was the bisperas and we had to queue. But it was well worth the wait as we enjoyed some really good Tsinoy food.

To get rid of the obvious weight gain from the sumptuous food, we walked around Binondo's interesting streets (which are very quiet on a normal night) and visited some of its hidden temples. I say hidden because most of them are located on the roof tops of buildings, such as the Te Ah Kong (Teyakong) Temple, a Taoist temple located near the corner of Ongpin and Kipuja Streets. Another interesting temple nearby is the Shi Ong Hu Temple along T. Alonzo Street, a Buddhist temple which occupies at least two floors of the building where it is located.

We were back at Ramada Manila Central before midnight and watched the fireworks from our hotel room window. The next day, we visited the roof deck bar of the hotel to see the view of Binondo from above. Ongpin was alive and crowded with so many visitors enjoying the festivities. Later in the morning, we got to watch the lion dance hired by the hotel before moving around.

Lunch was at Xiao Chun Yuan Restaurant near the corner of Ongpin and S. Padilla (Gandara) Streets. We tried out their Oyster Cake, Mapo Tofu, Polonchay and Pork Mushroom, another hearty Chinatown meal! For the afternoon, since it was a bit hot, we went back to the hotel to take a nap. Anyway, most of the dance troupes were resting as well.

By late afternoon, all the troupes were out again. Aside from the lion dances, we also got to see colorful dragon dance troupes. Unfortunately, the out of place freak shows were making their appearances as well, trying to compete for attention with the genuine lion and dragon dance troupes that are an inherent part of the celebration. These outsiders should be reminded that it isn't Ati-Atihan, nor was it a Pride March, or even Halloween (poor business owners were trying to shoo away people dressed as aswangs dancing in front of their establishments since to them, they are malas or symbols of bad luck). These outsider groups, mostly drag queens, fire eaters and fiesta drummers, were obviously there for the money. So at the very least, they should have matched their acts with the occasion which was Chinese New Year. And visitors should stop giving them money so as not to encourage them to come back again next year. But at least I noticed more lion dance troupes this year which was a good sign.

The main reason we went out was to get some Fried Siopao from Ching Hong Foods along Benavidez Street.  We got there just in time since a new batch was about ready for serving and this sumptuous snack is sold out before you know it.

We actually so enjoyed our stay at the hotel so much because of the convenience that we decided to extend for another night to experience more of Chinatown. Dinner was at the Royale Sharksfin Seafood Restaurant (no we did not have sharks fin and I hope they don't serve it), which according to my tokayo, Mr. Old Manila Walks, is one of the best restaurants in Binondo. We were not disappointed.

Before calling it a night, the two Ivans got a foot massage at the spa located at the first floor of the hotel, a perfect way to end the night, especially for Ivan Man Dy, who had been touring people around Manila Chinatown the whole day. It may not be as festive on other days, but Binondo is worth a staycation any day of the year if only for the food!

Where to stay in Binondo, Manila
Ramada Manila Central, a Wyndham hotel, is conveniently located at the corner of Ongpin and Quintin Paredes Streets, beside Binondo Church. Rooms are cozy and comfortable. And its location makes exploring Binondo even easier.

Telephone: +63 (2) 5886688 / 3544151
Fax: +63 (2) 3544152

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Manila: Binondo food trip on Chinese New Year! Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Happy Lunar New Year! 新年快樂! And as our Tsinoy friends would greet people, Kiong Hee Huat Tsai! 恭喜發財! Of course, the best way to celebrate is to visit Binondo and go on a wild food trip! Too bad I'll miss the festivities this year since I'll be on the road. But I definitely had fun last year, especially after nibbling our way through Chinatown.

We visited Dong Bei Dumplings, President Tea House, New Po-Heng Lumpia House, several hole-in-the-wall establishments, and a new restaurant. We also took home some hopia and other delicacies from Ho-Land. Anyway, I'll let the photos do all the talking. Yummy!

If you want a guided food tour of Chinatown this weekend, book a slot (if there are still slots available) on the Big Binondo Food Wok (Chinese New Year Edition) of Old Manila Walks on January 21 (Saturday) 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; January 22 (Sunday) 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.; and January 23 (Monday) 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. E-mail for reservations.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Manila: Big Binondo Food Wok Map now available!

Finally! All the wonderful places to eat in Binondo, all those legendary Manila Chinatown restaurants are now in one map! I have to give it to my tokayo Ivan ManDy of Old Manila Walks for producing the Big Binondo Food Wok Map, a must-have map for any serious foodie.

In National Geographic's Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe, Manila's Chinatown is among the Top 10 Chinatowns of the World (6th to be exact). In fact, established in 1594, it is the oldest Chinatown in the world!

Now, you can explore and eat your way through Chinatown on your own two feet! It has restaurant (over 80 food establishments) and shop listings, various cultural attractions and a heritage trail among others. Not only that, the map contains coupons and various freebies you can claim at selected restaurants. And it's just Php100!

Purchase your map now from the Bahay Tsinoy Museum, Libros Filipinos Bookshop (Filipinas Heritage Library) or the La Monja Loca Store. Mail orders are also accepted (plus shipping charge). Just e-mail for inquiries.

Oh, did I mention they're given free if you join the Old Manila Walks tours?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Binondo: Carvajal Street is a food haven!

Carvajal Street in Binondo is another food haven for those looking for a different kind of culinary adventure. To any certified foodie, Carvajal can be a very intimate and charming street market. It's a really narrow street that has been closed to traffic. In fact, it looks more like an alley than it does a street!

Among the Binondo locals, Carvajal is still called Ho Sua Hang, which is Hokkien for umbrella alley. That's because the main product of the street used to be umbrellas rather than food. Well today, one can find seafood, fruits and vegetables, as well as ingredients for Chinese dishes. If you need a hard to find ingredients for a Chinese dish you've been wanting to cook at home, it must be in Carvajal!

But if you're too lazy to cook, stalls there also sell food that's ready to eat. Don't you just love Chinatown?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Binondo: Dong Bei Dumplings are the best dumplings in Chinatown!

I can't stop raving about Dong Bei Dumplings! It's along Nueva Street (well they call it Yuchengco Street now). There are times that I'd drive all the way to Binondo just to buy my stock of frozen dumplings and pancakes which I could easily cook at home when I crave for them. The dumplings are actually from Northern China (most Chinese dishes we see here in the Philippines are from Fujian Province).

You can choose what you want inside your dumplings, from plain vegetables such as kutchai and cabbage, to dumplings with mixed pork and vegetables, plain pork, or shrimp and vegetables. You can also order them steamed or fried. Both are actually good!

Same goes for the pancakes. You can pick what you like in them. But they're usually served fried. These posts are really making me hungry! I want to go to Binondo now!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Binondo: Wai Ying Fastfood serves great dimsum!

Binondo is a food paradise. And Benavidez Street is a treasure trove of restaurants and hole-in-the-wall stores which serve some of the best Chinatown goodies. If you want some cheap but delicious dimsum, troop over to Wai Ying Fastfood!

Everything is great! But since our stomachs could handle only as much, we couldn't pick them all. We had (1) kutchai dumplings, (2) hakaw, (3) thaipao, (4) beancurd roll, (5) beef mami and (6) wanton mami. Even with the black gulaman and almond jelly, our bill was less than PHP500!

Wai Ying actually has another branch in Binondo and one in Tondo (also along Benavidez Street), which is near Metropolitan Hospital. That's were we got to savor these delectable dumplings. Writing this post got me craving for even more dimsum!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Manila: Late night shabu-shabu at Golden Fortune Seafood Restaurant

Here is the answer to your late night shabu-shabu cravings! Last March, the Philippines hosted the Asia 21 Young Leaders Forum. Among the delegates was Minnesota state senator Mee Moua who had mentioned to us over dinner that she was hoping to visit Chinatown before leaving the next day. On short notice, we rang Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks to give her a private night tour of Binondo!

After exploring Binondo, we went for late night shabu-shabu at Golden Fortune Seafood Restaurant which closes at 1 a.m. daily. What's even better is starting at 9 p.m., they give a hefty discount for shabu-shabu (30 to 50 percent depending on the ingredient), dimsum and seafood. The same discount is offered from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

The shabu-shabu was great! At least we now know where to go when craving for late night food in Binondo!

Golden Fortune Seafood Restaurant
Peace Hotel, 1283 Soler Street
Binondo, Manila
(02) 244-2777

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Manila: Kiong Hee Huat Chai!

We've always known the Cantonese version of the Lunar New Year greeting which is Kong Hei Fat Choi. It means "congratulations and be prosperous" and not "Happy New Year" as most Filipinos assume. But since most Chinese Filipinos trace their ancestry to Fujian province, the residents of Binondo are popularizing the Hokkien version which is Kiong Hee Huat Chai! This holiday is not only celebrated by the Chinese but shared by the Koreans (Seollal), Vietnamese (Tết), Mongolians, Tibetans (Losar), the Nepalese and the Bhutanese as well.

Yesterday was the eve of the Lunar New Year. As I was nearing the Binondo Church, I bumped into dragon dance group making its way along Ongpin Street. Anyway, my tokayo (Filipino term for person with the same first name) Manila streetwalker Ivan ManDy had a tour scheduled in the afternoon so I waited for him at the church lobby. He arrived at 2 p.m. together with two other bloggers, Anton Diaz and Sidney Snoeck. Anton and family joined his morning tour while Sidney bumped into their group. Since I've already been on his walking tour (check out this old entry on the Big Binondo Food Bowl), I decided to join Anton and Sidney for a walk around the place to look for some action.

And it wasn't difficult to look for dragon and lion dance groups since they were all over the place. The lion dance is often confused with the dragon dance. If it's just one or two people, it's a lion. We finally found a big dance group and decided to follow them since we figured they knew which shops to stop at. And our hunch was right since we were led to a shop with a load of firecrackers hanging in front of it.

All these groups were after the little red envelopes filled with money, called ang pao in Hokkien, which were taped on the ceilings of the shops. But one thing I noticed was that most of the dance groups were not Chinese at all, obviously outsiders after the loot. There were even ati-atihan groups who were quite aggressive, giving red envelopes to by-standers hoping they would put something inside for them.

Since the afternoon sun was quite hot, there were not that many groups yet. So we decided to rest a bit and have dimsum at President Tea House on Salazar Street near the corner of Ongpin. I had hakkao, polonchai dumplings, spinach dumplings, japanes siomai and taupe rolls. We saw the mango shakes on the other table and couldn't resist ordering for ourselves too. Thanks to Sidney for the treat! We also bumped into Señor Enrique there.

The shops outside were also loaded with fruits, "lucky" plants and new year decorations and good luck charms. Of course, tikoy was in abundance too. There were long queues to buy tikoy, hopia and other goodies at the more popular outlets.

We continued our walk and found even more action. Along Ongpin, the crowds were increasing as they watched the different groups perform in front of the shops. The shop owners would place a bowl of candies and coins in front of their shops for the lions to "eat." The lions would then "spit it" to the crowds who all rush in to grab the goodies. Of course, the end of the routine would be the lighting of firecrackers. In fact, the lions would play around with the other end of the firecraker belt, "biting" it with its mouth. This time, the fumes were just too much for me to handle and I ended up coping with an asthma attack.

At 5:30 p.m., we parted ways and I ended up joining the tail-end of Ivan ManDy's tour which was a visit to the Guan Gong Temple. After the temple visit, we made a left on Nueva Street (the Lord Mayor of MayniLA changed the name to Yuchengco), and entered this alley which is known as Carvajal Street. The alley is a food haven with its myriad of hole-in-the-wall tea houses and vendors who sell anything from fruits, vegetables, fish and other delicacies.

We ended up in Quintin Paredes and our last stop, the New Po-Heng Lumpia House in the Uy Su Bin Building. Of course, their fresh lumpia is healthy and delicious. After the tour, I asked my tokayo to accompany me to my favorite dumpling shop along Nueva Street, Dong Bei Dumplings. I took home frozen xie ping (fried stuffed pancakes) and chui kio (dumplings). From there, we went back to Ongpin where I bought a box of tikoy and ube hopia from Eng Bee Tin.

Anyway, got a lot of work piled up for school, work and my NGOs. Check out the rest of my photos in Multiply. Kiong Hee Huat Chai!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Manila: Underneath the urban chaos hides Manila's former glory

I was at Binondo today to join in the Lunar New Year festivities. Since it was definitely going to be a traffic nightmare in Binondo, I decided to park at that unsightly shopping mall beside the City Hall of Manila (I must admit, I finally saw use for it... hehehe!) and walk to Chinatown from there. I also saw it as an opportunity to check out all the neglected heritage buildings along the way.

As I've mentioned over and over again, that uninteresting mall beside City Hall used to be where the elegant YMCA Building designed by Archt. William Parsons stood. Right beside it is an early post-war government building, one among many decrepit heritage buildings near City Hall, the former GSIS Headquarters. It was a pity looking at the building. From the architectural details, I could imagine just how chic it was during its heyday.

One thing the City Government of Manila lacks is creativity. There is such a thing as adaptive reuse Mayor Atienza. The GSIS Building could have been by used for the Unibersidad de Manila, and it would have been an elegant school building at that, instead of constructing that boring building in Mehan Gardens.

Aside from the fact that it was built on an important historical and archaeological site, it lessened the open space in Manila. We were discussing in my land use planning class yesterday that Filipinos seem to hate open spaces since when a local government sees one, they try to build something on it. In Mehan Gardens alone, Atienza had succeeded in constructing the UDM campus and Park & Ride. Check out this article for more details.

Anyway, right in front of UDM itself was another heritage government building that could also have been used by the UDM. But the National Waterworks and Sewage Authority building was obviously as derelict as GSIS. What a waste of architectural treasures right beside City Hall!

I continued my walk and saw that controversial DepEd building Atienza built in the Arroceros Forest Park. Oh brother! From outside, Arroceros was a sorry sight, heavily damaged by two typhoons, one named Milenyo and the other named Jose. If Winner Foundation was still on top of things, I'm sure the trees would have been rehabilitated immediately after Milenyo.

At the end of the road was the jewel of all decrepit heritage treasures in the vicinity of City Hall, the Metropolitan Theater. Need I say more?

I hope they are able to bring back the grandeur of that charming edifice which has Art Deco written all over it. But sadly, as early as now, one could already see that declared structures such as the Metropolitan Theater won't be spared by the elections. Attention Comelec, not only did Gabriela place their posters outside the designated posting areas, they violated PD1505 by desecrating a national historical landmark and had the gall to place their posters right beside the NHI marker at that!

At least across the street, Liwasang Bonifacio (formerly known as Plaza Lawton) had already been rehabilitated. Beside it, another imposing Manila landmark, the Central Post Office stands like a proud sentinel of Manila's former glory (before the city was carpet-bombed by American forces in the final days of the Second World War, it was among the great cities of Asia and the world). I guess there is a glimmer of hope for Manila's heritage.

I continued my walk across the Pasig River via the Jones Bridge. It's sad that they did not restore this bridge following the original plans of Archt. Juan Arellano. From the west side of the bridge, you could see Intramuros on your left and Binondo on your right. Again, amidst all the urban chaos, two buildings standout: the El Hogar Building and Pacific Commercial Building. I hope they restore these buildings soon.

At the end of the bridge, the Philtrust Bank Building (another grand pre-war building that should be restored) and a welcome arch greets visitors as they enter Chinatown. Along Quintin Parades Street, more Art Deco buildings still stand. And it was a pleasant surprise to see many of these old buildings freshly painted. And I also noticed that they are foreign banks, namely Citibank and HSBC which chose to locate in chic pre-war buildings. I guess it's because they know the value of the said buildings.

Anyway, my walk ended at the Binondo Church. Few people know that only the facade is original since the church was bombed too during the Second World War. But the current interior is just so nouveau riche, a cheap and pitiful imitation of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Binondo, with all its money could definitely do better than that.

Watch out for Part II tomorrow. Kiong Hee Huat Chai!
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