BINONDO – A #BestLifeQatar Philippine Independence Day Special

Binondo’s Chinatown located in Manila, Philippines is the oldest Chinatown in the world, established in 1594. This was the reason why i originally made it part of our #vacation2017 itinerary for my kids to experience… until a lot of changes happened – from family to solo traveler.

We were supposed to go for the popular “Binondo Food WOK” hosted by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks – a tour company offering a walk through Manila’s most historic quarters: colonial Intramuros, Binondo (Chinatown) , San Miguel – Malacañang Palace, the Chinese Cemetery and Corregidor. I told them that we would be featuring him on our blog after the tour but still want to recommend them (even though the tour didn’t pushed through) for what looks like a great historic food-tour. Check out their page for schedules here.

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And since it wouldn’t be as much fun when I am not with the kids,  I just tried to recall some of those popular places that are usually included in the tour – one of them is the famous Chinese Deli restaurant, Eng Bee Tin located at the corner of Ongpin and Yuchenco Street.

Eng Bee Tin and Cafe Mezzanine

A typical side street resto selling traditional Chinese delicacies such as hopia, tikoy and glutinous peanut balls which eventually serves variety of Chinese food. They also expanded to the second floor to house the Cafe Mezzanine where part of the restaurant’s income goes to Binondo Fire Department. One of their popular dish called “Gokung Soup” – or their infamous Soup No. 5 made from bull’s testicles was even featured on CNN Travel.

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David’s Tea House

After a refreshing meal from Eng Bee Tin, we continued walking along Ongpin street and headed towards Tomas Mapua Street where an affordable frozen dimsum wholesale center is available.

My mother in-law brought me to David’s Tea House China Town Ongpin (Main) where quite a number of their loyal patrons flock regularly for very low priced dimsum products. Interestingly, the selling procedure is a bit dated which involves lining on the street, paying through a small hole/cashier and collect the items outside (as shown on the photos).

Ideal for those who are in the business of selling dimsum, this is definitely the place to be!

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Blast from the Past

This year, we are celebrating the 119th Independence Day of the Philippines. My side trip to Binondo brought me back to the times of Dr Jose Rizal in his novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo where Binondo was also mentioned.

The first chapter of Noli me Tangere by Jose Rizal tells that the story began with a dinner party at Kapitan Tiago’s mansion in Binondo (derived from the archaic spelling of the Tagalog term “binundok” or mountainous, referring to Binondo’s originally hilly terrain).

Chapter 1 Noli Me Tangere- “A Gathering”

In late October, Don Santiago de los Santos (otherwise known as Capitan Tiago), hosted a dinner at his house on Anloague Street. The descriptions of the house could be likened to the status of Philippine society under Spanish rule. Among the characters we meet are a Teniente Guevara, Padre Sibyla (Dominican) and Padre Damaso (Franciscan). Padre Damaso spent 20 years as parish priest in San Diego. The angry conversation between Padre Damaso and the soldier reveals that a good man, whose son was in Europe, died. His body was exhumed by the San Diego parish priest and ordered buried elsewhere.

The setting of the 25th Chapter of El Filibusterismo (a sequel to Noli Me Tangere) was at the Panciteria de Macanista de Buen Gusto where fourteen students were celebrating the approval of their petition to put up a Spanish Academy. Located at Calle San Fernando (near Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz), the name “Panciteria Macanista de Buen Gusto” roughly translates to “yummy Chinese foods from Macau”.

Chapter 25 of El Filibusterismo – “Laughter and Tears”

The 14 students decide to gather and “celebrate” at the Panciteria Macanista de Buen Gusto, a restaurant whose name roughly translates to “yummy Chinese foods from Macau.” It must have been a small resto because they were able to reserve all the tables.

There are written signs, and the you can tell from the way the students were talking that they were let down and were feeling hurt by what Don Custodio did (or rather, did not do for them).

The students invited Basilio in hopes that they can get him drunk enough to share the inside story about a missing child and a nun.

Dinner is served and they offer the “pansit langlang” in honor of Don Custodio. The other food items are given descriptions, and are likened to certain key characters.

The students force Tadeo to give a speech even if Tadeo was unprepared. Pecson also gives a speech where he lashes out at the frailes.

They see one of the servants of Padre Sibyla, the vice-rector of the university. The servant rides the carriage of Simoun.

Real Independence

Not only that this side trip brought back history into my senses but also made me reflect how we have undervalued the freedom that our heroes from the past have fought with their own sweat and blood.

But what ties us down is more of our wrong beliefs which was passed down to us from generations… and these mentalities are some of the reasons why many are still struggling up to now (esp financially).

I read one comment on a facebook forum and i somehow agree on the viewpoint of the commentor on the post:  In the US, a lot of their famous superheroes are business owners, know how the stock market can grow their wealth, well-off and successful people.. Meanwhile in the Philippines: we have Captain Barbel, Darna, Panday, Lastikman.. You see, it’s in our culture that we need to improve.

And his reply will leave you thinking:

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This could be an utterly false statement or could also be brutally correct (depends on which side we are). But our “poor” mentality is sometimes the very reason why we remain the same. We are already free as a country 119 years ago, but we are the one’s keeping ourselves bound by these wrong beliefs and mentalities.

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Going back to our friends in Binondo, they still maintain their old – slightly renovated restaurants, offices and shops but they are some of the most prosperous businesses in Manila. They started small in their ventures and maintained a modest lifestyle. They’ve migrated to our country and did well.

So REAL FREEDOM starts in our minds. Enough of excuses, enough of unreasonable beliefs. Let’s change our culture (of dependency and self-entitlement) and wrong mentalities (“poor” mentality, crab mentality, etc). It’s time to open our eyes and see how others did it. And with our own innate abilities and determination, we are definitely bound to soar, higher than we could ever imagine.

Let’s not work on being popular online (“FACEBOOK LIKES” will not bring food on our tables) but rather on becoming a good person (our reactions really matter). Let’s not just project to be “knowledgeable” on many things, let’s be a “doer” of what we believe will make us better… as a person, and as a nation.

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