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During my last visit with Carlos Celdran, performance artist and tour operator, the Stone Lion Food Haus wasn’t around anymore but the row of other Chinese restaurants and the stalls of fruits and other foodstuffs still exist on this street.

Carvajal is also known for its Hookien name Ho Sua Hang or Umbrella Alley as the street used to be famous for shops selling umbrellas.

It was said that the Filipino-Chinese (also called Chinoy/Tsinoy) are the most assimilated Chinese community in Southeast Asia. Lorenzo Ruiz, the First Filipino Saint – Binondo Church is officially named Minor Basilica of St. A visit to Binondo is never complete without dropping by the church whose original façade survived the massive carpet bombing of Manila by the Americans during World War 2.

Check out the floor whose stone bricks curiously come with Chinese characters by the main entrance of the church, these were apparently tombstones of graves in China brought to the Philippines and sold by the enterprising Chinese.

Binondo was the main center of commerce in the Philippines before the last World War where Spanish Filipinos, Chinese and the Chinese mestizos conducted business and finance complete with banks, insurance companies and financial institutions from the United States and Great Britain.

During the Spanish era, the Chinese in the Philippines were a major lynchpin in linking the Chinese junk trading system and the Silk Road to Acapulco (Mexico) and to the rest of Europe through the two and a half century Galleon Trade.

Another area of major culinary interest would be the bigger but equally busy Ongpin Street.

Located in an area of just about 1 square kilometer right in the heart of the city of Manila, Binondo bustles daily with trade and commerce which the Chinese are known for and it culminates thousands of years of Filipino and Chinese relations dating back to the Ice Age when tribes from Southern China are known to have reached the Philippines through the land bridges.

To get Marcos off their backs, the Chinese businessmen readily acceded to ‘requests’ of the regime to infuse fresh funding into its drying coffers.

Today, despite its gritty façade, Binondo remains to be one of the major centers of commerce in the country.

That said, the Chinese in the Philippines were the backbone of the Spanish colonial economy.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) opened their first Philippine branch in Binondo in 1876 taking advantage of the booming Philippine sugar industry while financing infrastructure projects like railways which connected the rest of Luzon to Manila.