Close this search box.

Manila Chinatown celebrates 430th Anniversary

by Bryan Gadingan

THE world’s oldest Chinatown, Manila Chinatown, celebrated its 430th anniversary on Thursday at Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo Manila, coinciding with the approaching Chinese New Year.

Photo Courtesy: Ryan Baldemor | republicasia

In 1594, Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, the Spanish Governor and Captain-General of the Philippines, built Manila Chinatown across the Pasig River from the walled city of Intramuros, where the Spaniards lived. 

Binondo was designed to be a permanent home for Chinese immigrants, particularly those who converted to Catholicism and intermarried with indigenous Filipinos.

Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan and the City Government of Manila oversaw the unveiling of the Prosperity Tree, which was organized in partnership with the Manila Chinatown Development Council, led by Executive Director Willord Chua.

Mr. Bernardito Ang, the City Administrator, was also in attendance, as was Mr. Stephen Sia, President of the Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc., DOT NCR Regional Director Ms. Sharlene Zabala-Batin, and 3rd District Congressman Atty. Joel Chua.

The activities began promptly at 4:30 p.m. The Manila City Band performed for the audience, followed by the Hua Xing Dance Troupe, which included students from Philippine Cultural College, the country’s oldest secondary Filipino-Chinese (Fil-Chi) school.

Photo Courtesy: Ryan Baldemor | republicasia

Followed by the much-anticipated wushu performance of Chiang Kai Shek College Lion Dance Group’s. 

Before lighting the Prosperity Tree, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan shared a few words with the mixed crowd that included many Filipino and Chinese residents of the city.

“Kami po sa Lungsod ng Maynila will continue to look back and value the presence of our fellow Filipinos with Chinese decent,” remarked the Mayor, emphasizing their admiration for the Fil-Chi residents of Binondo.

“Sa lahat po ng ating kapwa Manilenyo, kayo po ay hini-hikayat namin na pumasyal dito sa Binondo, hanggang sa pagsapit ng Chinese New Year sa February 10,” she went on to say.

Photo Courtesy: Ryan Baldemor | republicasia

Furthermore, in a separate interview with republicasia, Mayo Lacuna-Pangan emphasized that Filipinos must not only celebrate the Lunar New Year, but also reflect on it. 

“Pagpupursige po, kasi kung gusto po natin na tayo po ay yumaman, hindi lang po sa mga materyal na bagay, kung hindi sa lahat-lahat na po,” she remarked, discussing the lesson that Filipinos, particularly Manilyenos, should take away from the event.

“Dapat po magpursige tayong lahat, pagtrabahuhan po natin, kagaya po ng ating masisipag na mga Filipino-Chinese na naninirahan dito sa atin,” the mayor went on to say.

Meanwhile, Department of Tourism NCR Regional Director Zabala-Batin announced that the Philippines has received two prestigious prizes for the outstanding economic contributions of Manila Chinatown.

Photo Courtesy: Ryan Baldemor | republicasia

“The Department of Tourism acknowledge the vital need to celebrate our history, our culture, and of course the indelible contribution of Binondo and the oldest Chinatown in the world to Philippine culture,” she said.

“The Philippines have received two important awards. The first is the Global Tourism Resilience Award for out activities and programs that has contributed in the economic recovery after COVID.”

“And the second, I am happy and so proud to share to [everyone], that the city of Manila has received the World Travel Awards’ City Destination of the Year.”

“Natatangi po kayo, because everyone is celebrating your heritage, your culture, your unique selling proposition to the world in the field of tourism,” she went on to say.

At the back, the Chinese New Year Festival Market was inaugurated, as did the lighting of the Prosperity Tree. The market sells a wide variety of foods, particularly Chinese dishes, which will appeal to Filipino food aficionados. Tikoy Giving took place here as well.

Manilenyos and the rest of the country are welcome to attend various additional celebrations and festive events in the following days. A Chinese New Year countdown will take place on Jones Bridge on February 9 at 11:30 p.m.

The next day, at 2:30pm, a CNY Parade will begin from the Post Office and travel all the way to Binondo, and on the 18th, a lantern festival will take place at the Chinese Park in Rizal Park.

TikTok star Mathilda Airlines, the new queer voice for the people