Binondo’s iconic Fil-Chi arch reopened

World’s largest Chinatown arch at 63.8 feet high and 74 feet wide welcomes people to the oldest existing Chinese community outside of China.

Dragans came to dance and play during the reopening of the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch lighted by hundreds of bulbs Friday evening. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MANILA PIO

September 11, 2022

The Binondo Chinatown in Manila, considered as the oldest existing Chinese community in the world, celebrated Friday night the “Mooncake Festival” with the grand lighting of the refurbished Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch.

Dragon and ethnic Chinese dances marked the festival widely celebrated in other Chinatowns in countries to seek from farmers’ ancestors rain to irrigate fields and also bountiful harvest.

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna and Vice Mayor Yul Servo presided over the opening of the arch, touted as the world’s largest Chinatown Arch at 63.8 feet high and 74 feet wide.

The arch “showcases the fusion of modern and traditional design between pagodas,” the Manila Public Information Office said in a statement.

“Volunteers from the Filipino-Chinese Youth Business Association, Inc. used about 800 bulbs to light up the arch,” the MPIO said.

The arch is expected to attract tourists because of its Instagram-worthy appearance while serving as a symbol of more than 2,000 years of trade relations between the Philippines and China pre-dating the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines in the 1400s.

However, the Binondo Chinatown itself was established by the Spaniards in 1594 as a settlement for Catholic Chinese across the Pasig River, outside of the walled city of Intramuros.

“This arch serves as a testament of the Filipino-Chinese relationship with our friendship, unity, and harmony,” Mayor Lacuna said during the program.

She encouraged migrant Chinese and Filipino-Chinese to come and invest in Binondo, Manila. “Let us redevelop (and) revive the majestic Manila Chinatown,” she added.

Before World War 2, Binondo, especially its Escolta Street, was considered the center of banking and commerce with foreign companies holding office in the area.

Many areas in Binondo had been immortalized by the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, in his writings, including his two novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

Lacuna, Servo Nieto and City Administrator Bernie Ang were joined in the ceremony by 3rd District Rep. Joel Chua and several city councilors including Jong Isip, Apple Nieto, Fa Fugoso and Maile Atienza.

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