07/3/15

The Arches of Manila Chinatown

The last Araw ng Maynila was an occasion to formally inaugurate the new Manila Chinatown arch located in Plaza Moraga at the foot of Jones Bridge in Binondo, Manila. It is said to be the world’s largest Chinatown arch at 63.8 feet high and 74 feet wide (1.62 meters high and 1.88 meters wide if you prefer the metric system) and was installed as part of an effort for tourism and the revitalization of Chinatown and the city in general, which has been the cornerstone of the administration of former president turned city mayor Joseph Estrada.

Nevertheless, not everyone is thrilled to have it, even the Filipino-Chinese community in the city, mainly because of the inscription in the arch. The Chinese characters on the arch are rendered in Pinyin as “zhong guo zheng“, meaning literally “China Town.” Take note, China Town and not Chinatown, so this part of Manila is being implied in this inscription as an outpost of China. And we all know how cordial the relations are right now between the Philippines and China. Continue reading

05/28/14

Valenzuela and its Stone Arch

At the beginning of the 2oth century, the Metro Manila city of Valenzuela was known before as the rural town of Bulacan called Polo. South of Polo was a bustling fishing town called Malabon, one of the many towns that comprised the then-newly established Province of Rizal.

To demarcate the boundary between the two provinces, the American colonial government built in 1910 a stone arch along what was then the main thoroughfare to Northern Luzon. It was no grand structure or anything but it served its purpose. Locally it became known by the name which is how “stone arch” is known in Tagalog: Arkong Bato.

old photo of Arkong Bato (courtesy of the Valenzuela city website)

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