Where: Binondo - Sta.Cruz - Quiapo - San Miguel, Manila, NCR, Philippines
Who: Mr, Mrs & Little Miss Wanderlust with Granny Annie
When: April 2015
What: Holy Week in Manila
Right in the heart of the Philippines' Luzon island, is it's capital city, strategically located in Manila. Our hometown, the place where we grew up. Manila as we picture it is traffic, dirty and has a lot to improve as a capital city (mismanagement and corruption is too damn rampant!).
This particular entry in our blog is basically a guide to see several historic churches around Binondo and other nearby areas in Manila for observation of the Catholics' Lenten Season. In a country that has been colonized by the Spanish for 300 years, majority have been converted to Catholics. This is why you can definitely see impact it has made, especially during the holy week where people go on "visita iglesia" to visit different churches.
While we are at it, why don't we see, explore and experience Manila. Both of us have lived more than half of our lives here in Manila, but this time, we see it from the eyes of a 'wanderer'. There is so much to appreciate and learn in the city streets of Manila that we have always been on. Being a long holiday, most students and workers are back on their provinces, some choose going to other summer spots. It is good because there are no traffic and less people in the streets.
Taxis are abundant in the city and the fastest mode to get around.
Jeep - trademark of Manila, just ask the driver if lost they will point you out to right direction
Callesa - horse drawn carriage mainly used as tourists mode of transport around the area.
Sidecar - a retrofitted tricycle carriage that can easily be seen along side streets, however sometimes they charge too much that its much better to walk or take a jeep, unless you really can't for some reason.
*Walk* - It is easier to just walk, and appreciate the surroundings. Just be careful with your valuables and stay alert. Because you know, Manila.
Places to stay? Below are just some of the listed ones, just do a search on these names and see which type of accommodation suits you.
Mabini Mansion Hotel
Manila Pavillion Hotel
Manila Grand Opera Hotel
Corporate Inn Hotel
1. Binondo Church - One of the oldest places of Christian Worship. Built in 1596, the Church is home to the Our Lady of China and in-front of the church, Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz lies; it was named after a Filipino-Chinese martyr and saint, St. Lorenzo Ruiz.
2. Santo Cristo de Longos - See a mix of Buddhist and Catholic faith in this shrine. It is a blackened corpus or an image of crucified christ. Stories say that in 16th century, one deaf and mute Chinese found the image in an old well in the barrio of Longos, where 'legend' has it that the deaf-mute who found it was healed. (Although need citation on that one as it isnt in the history books). The image now is displayed in a niche with a glass cover near the side entrance of Binondo Church, and you will see offerings such as incense and other hints of Buddhist also in this shrine.
3. Ongpin Street - this is home to many Chinese herbal stores, restaurants, and different stores.
4. Escolta Street - see the old art deco style buildings which used to be the home of many luxurious brands and latest fashion stores back then slowly declined in 70's after malls in the city grew and multiplied.
5. Visit nearby areas - Like the walled city of Intramuros, or Quiapo where used to be the commerce center in the early 70's but now lots of shop for photography, bicycles etc. and also Arranque Market for pets nearby.
6. EAT - Manila's Chinatown is the oldest in the world also has notable restaurants that has been open for as long as we know, and some are really local's and even tourists favorites when it comes to different available food shops and restaurants to try. Food scene here is definitely alive
(If you want an in depth guide specifically on where to eat in Binondo, try Spot.PH's in this link.)
Other places we went to finish our 7 church 'Visita Iglesia':
The "Old Downtown of Manila" - Quiapo, since late 1890's shared its status as the center of the activities of Manila's social elites as well as trade, fashion, art and higher learning with its surrounding vicinities (University Belt, Escolta, Santa Cruz, Binondo). However, with the construction of the Manila Light Rail Transit System's Yellow Line spanning over Rizal Avenue, the occlusion of light, the trapping of smog and vehicle emissions left the streets beneath dark, gloomy and with an increase in crime and transients. Consequently, many long-time establishments vacated the area.
Now you can still find things to buy and places to eat, just be careful as there are a lot of street peddlers, and scammers roaming around looking for victims.
San Miguel - Mendiola
It is the home of to some middle class houses in the area, also where the Malacañan Palace complex is located, cars are not so much allowed, or at least should secure a gate pass because of the Presidential Security Group or PSG. This is where you would get to churches like San Miguel and St. Jude. And is very near Mendiola which is the home of 5 different schools and 1 church to visit - San Beda College's The Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat.
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