City of Manila

A Museum for Manila’s Chinatown

This year seems to be quite a year for museums it seems. At this time of writing, at least 4 new museums have been opened. One of them was the previously covered Museo El Deposito in San Juan. Another one is the subject of today’s entry.

Writing about this new museum merited a revisit of another previously-covered landmark, the Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo’s Cityplace complex which has changed quite a bit since this Roamer’s last visit. For one, there’s a hotel now in the area and Lucky Chinatown has been expanded as well, which would include this museum named, of course, the Chinatown Museum.

Opened this past June of this year, the Chinatown Museum is the brainchild of Lucky Chinatown’s developer Megaworld. This should be no surprise since its founding chairman Andrew Tan is a Filipino-Chinese who grew up in the district along with the many other successful Filipino-Chinese taipans that we know today.

While it is called a museum, you won’t find much of artifacts. Instead, what you will get is a more interactive experience that is audio-visual in nature. Visitors are treated with an immersion of sorts which enables them to learn, experience, and appreciate how Manila’s Chinatown has grown over the centuries from a Chinese settlement to the city’s economic hub.

The different Catholic icons and figures associated with Binondo

The Chinatown Museum manages to cover the various aspects of life in that area and how they evolved over the years: the social, the economic, the religious, and the political. In doing this, the museum is divided into different sections that evoke different settings such as the tranvia, the Binondo Church interior, the Chinese-Filipino mestizo residence, businesses from the panaderia (bakery) and the drugstore to historic ones such as La Insular Cigar, Roman Ongpin’s El 82 art shop, and La Estrella del Norte jewelry store.

Apart from the permanent exhibits, there is also a dedicated space for special exhibits and a museum shop which offers some unique merchandised inspired by Chinatown, Manila, and the Philippines in general.

Heroes with Filipino-Chinese blood

The Chinatown Museum is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Regular entrance fee is at PHP150 at this time of writing, with discounts for seniors and students and free entrance for kids below 4 feet. For more information, feel free to visit their website at www.chinatownmuseum.org.

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