Once we found ourselves back in Quiapo, we decided to have mami and siopao at the old and infamous Ma Mon Luk restaurant along Quezon Boulevard. The place has been un-airconditioned since time immemorial because, according to a magazine clipping posted on Ma Mon Luk’s wall, airconditioning affects the noodle soup’s taste. For a decent price, the bowl of noodles was quite filling. Though, as to taste, I don’t think there was anything extraordinarily special about the soup. Perhaps it’s all about the nostalgia of having a bowl full of the ‘original’ mami of Manila. The siopao was meaty and quite filling too.
After having merienda, I parted ways with my friends and walked across Quezon Boulevard, took some last snapshot of Quiapo, and boarded an FX back to Quezon City. That was a pretty tiring but satisfying spontaneous walking tour.
After having lunch at Binondo, we decided to proceed to Divisoria, which was less than a dozen blocks away. I wasn’t planning on purchasing anything, but I ended up buying a pair of inexpensive short-sleeve barongs, one in white and one in red. After strolling around Divisoria, we went all the way back to Binondo and walked along famed Ongpin Street with all the shops selling Chinese wares and goods. We also dropped by the Estero, a row of eateries beside a creek that crosses Ongpin. After walking the entire length of Ongpin and beyond, we eventually found ourselves in Quiapo.
From Intramuros, we crossed Jones Bridge another time on foot, this time proceeding to Binondo, where pedestrians will be greeted by the Filipino-Chinese friendship arch at the starting end of Quintin Paredes St. Upon descending form the Bridge from the Intramuros side of the Pasig, one shall be at Plaza Moraga, which according to this website, was the site of the first ice cream parlor in the Philippines (useless information, sorry). To your right, you will see Escolta, which as many of us might know, was once upon a time the premiere shopping and business center in Manila. That day, the entire place was just deserted.
We passed through the arch and walked along Quintin Paredes till we reached the end where a small plaza and a statue of Roman Ongpin can be found, and of course, where Binondo Church stands. There was a mass baptism going on at the church when we were there.
After taking random photos at Plaza San Lorenzo, we proceeded to this hole-in-the-wall, almost run-down restaurant in one of the back streets of Binondo, Dong Bei, which served authentic and fresh Chinese dumplings. The place is run by an immigrant couple from northern China, and their menu card claim that since many of the Chinese in the Philippines come from southern China, our concept of Chinese food is largely limited to Cantonese cooking, so one should try them out because they are different.
We had a plateful of their staple, steamed dumplings, I forget what they are called exactly, but they’re stuffed with ground pork and some green vegetables. These dumplings are prepared right within the servers’ own table at the dining area. We also ordered xinjiang chicken, which are cubes of chicken deep-fried and specially-flavored with, what, some northern Chinese spices and sesame seeds? It was good. It was my second time at the place, the first one was more than two years ago during an impromptu walking tour withIvan Mandy and a brod, Ivan Henares.
From Intramuros, we found ourselves along the banks of the Pasig River again, which has been paved by the city government with clay tiles. The riverbanks park is, however, deserted save for some street dwellers washing their clothes and taking a bath in the river.
Across the river from this side of the Pasig, one can see a handful of old and abandoned buildings in what used to be considered the downtown of Manila, and some other relatively old high-rises in Binondo. One can also see the tall orange cranes of Port Area beyond Tondo.
From Manila Cathedral, we walked a few blocks to another historic site, the San Agustin Church, still in Intramuros. San Agustin is the oldest stone church in Manila, and is one of four Filipino baroque churches in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Out of several visits to the church, it was the first time I noticed the Chinese stone lions that guard the church’s entrance, which I found peculiar at first. Upon searching through the internet, I found out that these stone lions were gifts from Catholic-converts among the Chinese.
After strolling inside the church and at the courtyard, we crossed the street into Casa Manila, a reconstructed stone house recreating the atmosphere of Spanish colonial Manila through the home of an ilustrado. A fee is asked for those who would want to explore the insides of the home. Instead, we just lounged for a bit at the coffee shop for pasta and coffee before proceeding with our walk.
After walking along the Pasig River, we decided to cross Jones Bridge and go to Intramuros, where we stopped by the Manila Cathedral and Plaza de Roma. It was a relatively long walk, though there wasn’t much traffic at all since it was a Sunday.
Manila Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Manila, which, during the Spanish occupation had jurisdiction over the entire archipelago. Fronting the Manila Cathedral is Plaza de Roma with a statue of King Carlos IV of Spain. At the southwest side of Plaza de Roma is Palacio del Gobernador, which used to be the seat of the Spanish Governor General of the Philippines. It now houses several government offices.
From Plaza Miranda, we walked along Hildalgo snaking through the streets past Avenida Rizal into Plaza Lacson. I noticed what used to be the classic Prudential Bank building has now, well, the Bank of the Philippine Islands brand on its face.
We just kept walking until we almost reached Binondo, but eventually we found ourselves walking along the Pasig River, among old abandoned structures, along streets that have apparently become a favorite location for TV commercials, right across the central Philippine Post Office building.
Last week, one of my friends wanted to buy supplies at Divisoria in Manila. Because we had a previously botched road trip, I suggested we take the Divisoria trip as an opportunity to just roam around the streets of old Manila. Quiapo is where we started. Here are some pictures.
There was a time early when I was a freshman in college when I would just board a bus to Quiapo after my day’s classes, instead of going to my organizations’ tambayans in Mass Comm, or instead of simply going home. I would just walk around Plaza Miranda, buy DVDs at the stalls along Hidalgo, and there were times I would even cross Quezon Bridge on foot and take pictures at Lawton with my SLR camera with black-and-white film.
January 14, 2008. Before hopping on the LRT back to Recto, I decided to give in to my hunger pangs and ate at one of the eateries under the Blumentritt Station. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, and it was past 4 in the afternoon. This young boy was looking at me while I was eating my tapsilog. I was too famished to be too generous. I gave him half of a sandwich instead.
After eating, it was just a short half-an-hour trip back to UP Diliman for me. From LRT Blumentritt Station, I got off at Doroteo Jose, then transfered to LRT Line 2 at Recto all the way to Katipunan where I rode a jeepney to Mass Comm. I was exhausted but it felt like a nice spontaneous walking trip for me. I should do it again and discover something new.