Horse-drawn calesas that continue to trot along Binondo’s streets today are one of the district’s main attractions. Calesa rides may not be as glamorous as they used to be, but one look at a carriage can bring back some type of collective memory or images of the Spanish Colonial Era that most of us have experienced only in classic Filipino literature. It is a consolation then, that a calesa ride can surely take its passenger on a time travel to the good old days when Binondo was glamorous and its streets sparkled with wealth and newness.
With enough imagination, one might even catch a glimpse of Rizal’s Ibarra walking along the shores of Pasig. But it is not only the old or the fictive that Binondo can offer to its tourists. The observant eye will notice landmarks of modernization and of Westernization that blend in with Binondo's equally diverse historical sites. It does not confine itself to the Spanish Colonial Era; Binondo boasts of the emergence of the Filipino identity, the harmonious relationship of the Filipino and the Chinese, and the country’s efforts at economic improvement. A deeper understanding of it may explain why people should not consider Binondo as any lesser than Tagaytay, Boracay, or Alabang just because it is not as sophisticated as they seem. After all, Binondo has character.
There are many entry points to Binondo: one may o...
... middle of paper ...
...A plaque in front of a quaint little house along Lavezares announces: Here, the La Solidaridad was first printed. After witnessing all the wonderful renovations in Binondo, it’s always pleasant to look back on the country’s past. After all, without the help of La Solidaridad, the Propagandistas, and our national heroes, we might have never repossessed our freedom from the Spaniards.
As Rizal said, “To foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open the book that tells of her past.” Binondo lives up to this proverb perfectly by embracing both the past and the present of the country. It is undiscriminating to change, but also nostalgic for the bygone days. This is why when people claim that Binondo is merely a stinky fish market compared to the new structures popping right out of Makati, Taguig, and Alabang, I’d be the first to say that they’re wrong.
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