The Chinatown Museum is a community space that aims to share a visual story of Binondo as the oldest Chinatown in the whole world. Each gallery focuses on various influences that have shaped the cultural, social, and economic threads that have formed Binondo, as we know of it today.
Binondo, earlier referred to as “Binundok” because of its low hills. During its first heyday in 1600 - 1800, Binondo was the Philippines’ commercial hub and the world’s crossroads. It began on an island belonging to the ancient trading town of Tondo, as a Dominican parish for the large Chinese community, and as a merchants’ quarter. The many Chinese clustered here and contributed their different skills. Hence the nickname “Chinatown”. Spanish, German, French, British and American businessmen opened offices here during its second heyday in the 1860s-1930s.
Over time, Binondo has been many things. Here arose our many firsts: pharmacies, theaters, panciterias, department stores, and, in 1892, the revolutionary Katipunan. However, one thing remains constant: Manila was a global city because of its pivotal role in international trade.