culture,  history,  people,  places,  travels

The Manila Bae: Exploring Manila By Feet

The last week has been dragging. I could feel my words hanging loosely in my articles. None of them made sense and I couldn’t even feel my own voice in them. Something is not right. I usually feel this when I write too much for consecutive days that work starts to feel more like a chore than something that I naturally enjoy and look forward to.

To battle this, I long for some sort of adventure I can immerse myself in. I told Jec that I wanted to go walk the streets of Manila and take pictures using his DSLR, which I don’t have. He said yes, so off we went to our little adventure last Monday during the Id-Ul-Adha or the end of the Eid al-Adha. Yes, I had to Google those terms.

I made the mistake of saving the photos to my phone from the DSLR so you’ll see that they do not have the highest quality. I always edit my photos with VSCO app so they no longer look as crisp. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I sort of lean into darker filters when I post-process my photos. They’re also a bit grainy, so I guess it’s safe to say that my photos look a bit starchy of some sort?

From Pinaglabanan, we rode the bus going to Quiapo and alighted at Sta. Ana. From there, we went to Quiapo church, passed through the marketplace, and got out at Binondo.


Quiapo Church, officially known as Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, is a Roman Catholic church located in the District of Quiapo, Manila, in the Philippines. The church is one of the most popular churches in the country. It is home to the Black Nazarene, a much venerated statue of Jesus Christ which many people believe has miraculous attributes. (

Plaza Miranda is a public square bounded by Quezon Boulevard, Hidalgo Street and Evangelista Street in Quiapo, Manila. It is the plaza which fronts the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church). It was also where the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing occurred. (Wikipedia)
Despite fronting the Quiapo Church, Plaza Miranda and the streets surrounding it is known as a center for fortune-telling and the sale of lucky charms and amulets. Most fortune tellers who practice around Plaza Miranda claim that they are able to draw their ability to tell fortunes from their devotion to the Black Nazarene (the patron of the Quiapo Church) despite Catholic Church doctrine deploring the practice. (Wikipedia)
This lady was calling us out for palm reading. I have an interesting story about a guy who read my palm years ago. I don’t necessarily believe in that craft, but some ‘predictions’ he said stuck in my memory.
I love tinapa! I was so kilig upon seeing this. Actually, the smell was enough to give me butterflies!
Mother sorting her ‘paninda’
We stayed too long here. It kind of felt awkward just standing and waiting for a magical moment to take a nice photo. I don’t even remember taking this. Haha!
Jec was trying to figure out what I was trying to capture here. It’s like the urban community meeting the church. It’s like sneaking up ahead on something majestic. Ya feel?
I once saw a photo similar to this one, with the vendor doing her own business while being surrounded by the things she’s selling. Sadly, I wasn’t able to give justice to this photo.
We were already past the marketplace and walking under the train station. This photo speaks so much of the poor’s lifestyle and how fellow commoners simply pass them by.
I can’t even begin to tell how much I love this photo! Albeit the low quality of the image, I’m so happy that I was able to capture the smile on the woman’s face. I also love how this showed how natural and comfortable they were in their own environment.


On the way to Binondo! Santa Cruz is a district in the northern part of the City of Manila, Philippines, located on the right bank of the Pasig River near the mouth of the river, in between the districts of Tondo, Quiapo, and Sampaloc, and Caloocan City and Quezon City. The district belongs to the 3rd congressional district of Manila in the Philippines. (Wikipedia)
I love powerlines. Jec calls them black spaghetti. For a self-proclaimed OC, it’s weird how I enjoy looking at this tangle of cables.
Sta. Cruz church had undergone many repairs and reconstruction, with the last reconstruction done in the 1950s. Today, the church architecture employs a California Spanish Mission style facade silhouette with the usual Filipino (Asian-Hispanic mix) Baroque ornamentation. The church facade is topped with an effigy statue of Our Lady of the Pillar, the patroness of the church whose feast happens every third Sunday of October and on the 12th day of October. (Wikipedia)
This street name awaits you as you enter Binondo. Ongpin is the home to many Chinese herbal stores, restaurants, and groceries. Everywhere you turn, Chinese owners stand by to monitor their business and guard their stores.
Binondo is a district in Manila and is referred to as the city’s Chinatown and its influence extends beyond to the places of Quiapo, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas. It is the oldest Chinatown in the world, established in the 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement. (
I love the chaos that is Binondo!
I had to ask permission from the sales lady before taking this photo because the Chinese owners might not appreciate it. Perhaps call it bad luck?
All so vibrant and colorful!
Balance. I stole this photo from Jec. I’ll just give him a kiss later. Balance. LOL. On a more serious note, though, in Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also yin-yang or yin yang, “dark—bright”) describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
These clear balls remind me fish eggs.
This cat is a cutie pie. I’m a cat person so I loved how the area had cats loitering everywhere, especially near vendor stalls.
Just the locals doing their thing. Trivia: Binondo is the center of commerce and trade of Manila, where all types of business run by Filipino-Chinese thrive. (

The famous Estero. From the Friendship Arch, it takes around 5 minutes to go here. It’s right after the Ongpin Bridge. It offers a variety of Chinese dishes. It’s an open area so if you’re fussy with where you dine and you want it to be more comfortable, you don’t have to prioritize Estero. Anyway, there are still a lot of Chinese restaurants you’d encounter. Ones with air-conditioned areas. You just have to know where to find them. Hehe. (Some info grabbed from
Salazar’s Bakery, which my mom highly believes is the best bakery in (China) town.
One of the last few shots I took before Jec and I headed to China Town proper. No child deserves to live this way. Sadly, this is the current state of our country and it will probably last a few more decades.

I can’t even imagine how they survive on a day-to-day basis.
The Friendship Arch stands 63.8 feet high and 74 feet wide, making it the largest in the world in terms of dimension. It was inaugurated in June 23, 2105 by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
With 400 years of history behind it, Binondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world. The town was created by the Spaniards in 1594 as a permanent settlement for Chinese immigrants. The Chinese brought with them a new culture and over time, Binondo became a melting pot of Chinese and Filipino influences that have helped define the place. (

This controversial church that is the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. Binondo Church has been reconstructed many times due to natural calamities and only the Bell Tower is what remained of the original 16th century structure, it has retained its classic architecture. (
Tomas Pinpin. I saw that street name across the street and it stuck to me. Tomás Pinpin was a printer, writer and publisher from Abucay, a municipality in the province of Bataan, Philippines, who was the first Filipino printer and is sometimes referred as the “Prince of the Filipino Printers.” (Wikipedia) Formerly known as Calle San Jacinto, the street was renamed in 1913.
Quintin Parades in Binondo is the old Calle Rosario after the district’s patroness the Nuestra Señora del Rosario. The street was renamed after the Filipino statesman and lawyer Quintin Paredes. He represented Abra in Congress and became Speaker of the House. (
Santo Cristo de Longos. Located at the corner of Ongpin Street and San Nicolas Street, it is an evidence of Filipino-Chinese blend of cultures. It is a Christian cross surrounded by Buddhist incense sticks and Filipino sampaguita garlands. ( For the Chinese, holding three incense sticks and bowing three times is a means of sending prayer through the smoke that comes from the sticks. Two bows symbolize a prayer for the dead. This is a bit ironic if I may say so because the Chinese are Buddhists. They worship Buddha, not Jesus, who is represented by a cross. I personally want to know more about the Santo Cristo de Longos, but for now, this is the most information I can give.


El Hogar Filipino Building, also known simply as El Hogar (the yellowish building to the left), is an early skyscraper in Manila, Philippines.It survived World War II and a number of earthquakes and is one of two remaining American-era structures in the area facing the Pasig River. (Wikipedia)
Nowadays, Juan Luna street has turned into a home for informal settlers in the area.
Photo taken by Jec
Calle Escolta is a place filled with history. It was where the British commander-in-chief and other government officials used to pass when they were escorted on their way to Intramuros. Thus, its name “Escolta,” derived from the Spanish word which means “to escort”. In recent years, thanks to organizations like the Heritage Conservation Society-Youth which regularly holds the #selfieEscolta street festival and tours, and artist group 98B which spearheads the Saturday x Future Market and artist exhibitions, Calle Escolta is once again becoming a place worth checking out again and again. (
Photo taken from the displays in Calvo Museum along Escolta St.
Promoting local and independent brands. Come, come!
Regina Building, previously known as Roxas Building, is a historic building located along Escolta Street in Binondo, Manila, Philippines. It was designed sequentially by Andres Luna de San Pedro and Fernando H. Ocampo. (Wikipedia)
The First United Building, formerly known as Perez-Samanillo Building, stands as one of the oldest buildings in the streets of Escolta. The building, which was erected during the 1920’s, was a combined architectural project of Andres Luna de San Pedro, and Juan F. Nakpil. These two architects designed the building with a form of style that quickly swept the western hemisphere during their time – The Art Deco. (

I’m not a history geek but I appreciate the old culture nonetheless. Anyway, you don’t have to be a historian to appreciate what once was the renowned Escolta. If you think it looks tacky right now, wait until it blooms again and welcomes curious locals and tourists.



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