Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Down in Chinatown

Last part of the Chinatown series

Chinatown is also home to the Binondo Church (also known as the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz). The granite structure was built by the Dominicans in 1596 for their Chinese converts. It was heavily destroyed during World War II, and only its western facade and octagonal bell tower survived. As I said in a previous post, many of the Chinese here in the Philippines practice Christianity side by side with their more traditional Chinese religions. Sometimes you can see them offering incense to the Virgin Mary or sometimes you see some Buddhist altars with a crucifix right in the middle. Sometimes I wonder how they navigate such seemingly polar identities. Anyhow I think they can teach us a lot about religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, yes?

San Lorenzo Ruiz, by the way, is the first and only Filipino saint. He was born of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother and was executed for refusing to renounce his faith.

So that is it for my Chinatown series. I hope to go back there soon, not just for the dumplings and the dimsum (although I have to say that's a huge part of it) but because there's so much more in the busy, noisy, and utterly vibrant Chinatown just waiting to be explored.


Kaori said...

We have a couple of Chinatowns in Japan too. That's interesting how they fuse the religions together. It might be a hint towards global peace ;)

Hilda said...

I recognize those dumplings from your earlier post. Ivan's Food Wok? Yummy! I want to go back to walk around on my own too.

Very good observation about the mixed-up religions. Personally, I'd like to see more people add a little animism into their beliefs. Our world and environment may become a little better for it.

mia said...

Hi Kaori! Yup, it's really interesting how they manage the two faiths together. Everybody just leaves everybody else be, when it comes to religion, and that respect is something everyone can emulate.

Hi Ma'am Hilda! Yup, armed with my trusty Big Binondo Food Wok Map, my friend and i just walked around Chinatown and decided to eat at one of the restos mentioned in the guide. And yay!!! Good choice! Dong Bei Dumplings are the best!