Binondo has always been part of my childhood not only because I'm Chinese, but because I grew up having an assortment of dimsum and other herbal medicines at home. When my classmates would bring baon of hotdog and rice, I'd bring a Thermos lunchbox full of stir-fried beef and broccoli, and fried siomai. It didn't occur to me that most kids don't have the luxury of "gourmet" lunches from home.
First meal stop. Where is this again?
I can't quite remember where we went first, but it was a small dimsum place that used to be a firefighter's hangout. Old fireman hats adorn the walls and you can actually ask to try them on. Just make sure there are no cucarachas lurking beneath the lining inside.
La Resurreccion Chocolate
Inhale deeply when visiting this chocolate (tablea) factory on Ongpin Street. La Resurreccion Chocolate is a slightly cramped space where moulds of chocolate are prepared the old-fashioned way. Keep your tongue away. The chocolate is bitter, they way they normally are unprocessed.
Comfort and simplicity are key when exploring the streets of Binondo. None of those frou-frou things that make you look like an outsider begging to be pickpocketed. The walking tour we had was big on WALKING. If you're iffy about getting a little soot on your feet, ditch the Havaianas, and go for sneakers.
Payphone and energy drink bottle.
The two men playing chess were oblivious to any potential intrusion, including me and my camera. I had to crouch a bit and inch slowly to get a better look. It was a good call to take this in B&W.
I'm planning yet another trip to Binondo, on my own this time and just take in the sights (and the food of course). I've been here so many times, yet there's really nothing like new discoveries in familiar places. It's like re-reading a book or watching a movie again - you always see something that you didn't see before.
And besides, I hate to be a foreigner in my own country and it still baffles me to this day that there are still some people who have no idea where Ongpin is (darling, that's where your tikoy comes from.)
For more walking tours, check out Ivan Dy's Old Manila Walks