A BRIEF HISTORY OF BINONDO - Illustrated by Jericho Moral


Binondo, earlier referred to as “Binundok” because of its low hills, was the Parian that housed Chinese traders. This was an island defined by the Pasig river and a network of esteros that connected it to waterways that extended into Central Luzon.


Binondo’s strategic location is due to its proximity to Manila Bay, Pasig River and Intramuros. Manila Bay was the docking point of galleons and Chinese junks that carried a variety of wares. The bay was connected to Pasig River and a network of esteros where trade goods could easily be transported. Binondo is near enough to Intramuros that residents could easily buy textiles, housewares and various necessities from Binondo’s markets.


In 1756, the Spanish government commissioned Antonio Mazo to build the Alcaiceria de San Fernando, a permanent marketplace that housed shops and transient residences for the merchant Chinese. Designed by Lucas de Jesús, it was an octagonal double-storied structure with a central courtyard lined with shop fronts.


Binondo became a center for global trade. Key landmarks during the period include: Binondo Church, El Hogar, La Puerto del Sol, Calvo Building and Natividad Building. Clark's Ice Cream Parlor, built on 1899 by M. A. Clarke, was the first ice cream store in the country.


During the 1890s to the 1930s, the area around Calle Escolta became the main commercial zone. Landmark buildings sprang up: Crystal Arcade, Don Roman Santos Building, Perez-Samanillo (now First United), Burke Building Regina Building and Capitol Theatre. The all-glass Crystal Arcade was the most magnificent, designed by Andrés Luna de San Pedro, it became the home of the first Manila Stock Exchange.