If walls and roads and buildings could talk, those in Binondo would be busy telling stories about Chinese commerce and trade and the lives of its residents before, during, and after the Spanish colonial period. A newly opened museum offers a glimpse into the glorious past of the “World’s Oldest Chinatown.”
Township developer Megaworld has recently opened the doors of Chinatown Museum, the country’s first cultural museum dedicated to Binondo.
Located on the 4th level of Lucky Chinatown’s Building A, the Chinatown Museum features 18 galleries, each focusing on various influences and historical events that have shaped the cultural, social, and economic threads of Binondo—from its establishment as a settlement for Christianized Chinese immigrants in 1594 to the height of downtown Escolta on its way to becoming a bustling commercial downtown of colonial Manila.
The new cultural landmark, recognized by the National Historical Commission and National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, is envisioned as a community space and heritage project that lends a visual retelling of the rich history of Binondo.
“It has always been our goal to integrate arts, culture, history, and heritage in the overall character of our developments. With Lucky Chinatown at the center of a community characterized by its rich history, we wanted to extend this passion for the arts and culture to the mall experience, and eventually boost tourism in this part of Manila,” said Megaworld chief strategy officer Kevin L. Tan.
Among the notable displays at the museum are the Escolta gallery which features paintings of heritage buildings where visitors can also draw using a tablet with a Chinese calligraphy brush dipped in disappearing ink; a gallery of Botica de San Fernando where guests may check out a drawer of 25 medicinal herbs and flowers; and a Tranvia de Filipinas display which features a stationary train on which visitors can sit and watch a video chronicling its history.
“We conducted thorough research and consultations for this project, and we collaborated with members of the academe, respected historians, and prominent figures in the community in order to provide an accurate and comprehensive representation of Binondo’s rich history,” shared Tan.
Chinatown Museum is the second museum venture of the property giant following the opening of the Iloilo Museum for Contemporary Art, the first museum of its kind in the Visayas and Mindanao region, inside its Iloilo Business Park township in Mandurriao last year.
Part of the company’s tourism initiatives is to integrate museum projects in its township developments across the country. Currently, it is curating museums for its townships in Cebu, Pampanga, and Pasig City.
“We went beyond a historical presentation of facts and we even developed the museum’s very own app to make it educational and at the same time entertaining especially to the young audience,” added Tan.
The Chinatown Museum App, available for download on Google Play and App Store, aims to provide easy access to the museum’s gallery information. It utilizes Bluetooth technology and allows smoother transition between topics and information while inside the museum.
Chinatown Museum is connected to the main mall of Lucky Chinatown via a bridgeway on the fourth level. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission for regular visitors is priced at P150, for senior citizens at P120, and for students at P100. Kids below four feet are free of charge.
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