Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Rustic Binondo...

Went to the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz or more popularly known as the Binondo church. The church is a fine example of Spanish colonial architecture. It was founded by the Dominican priests in 1596. It was named after a sacristan , San Lorenzo Ruiz, who was born to a chinese father and a filipino mother. He was executed in Japan for refusing to renounce his religion.

It is estimated that more than 70% of the goods sold in the provinces are directly sourced from wholesalers along a dozen narrow streets in Chinatown. Each street has its specialization. Ongpin is better known for its jewelry stores. Evangelista Street carries extensive industrial equipment supplies while Nueva Street services the shoe industry, supplying materials like leather uppers, rubber soles. Evolving from its image as a wet and dry goods bargain haven, Binondo is now also a one-stop-shop for bargain computers and printers.

Many of the successful Chinese businesses had their origins here. For example, mall magnate Henry Sy opened his first shoe store in Escolta.

As a financial center, Chinatown saw the peak of its influence in the 1980s when the grey market dubbed the "Binondo central bank" dictated the exchange rates in the country.

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