The World's Oldest Chinatown
When you hear the word Chinatown - where does your mind go?
Lima? San Francisco? Vancouver?
Known for their ornate ‘Paifang’ arches, bustling restaurants and specialist grocers, Chinatowns have popped up in almost every major city around the world, with many originating from the Chinese trade and labour expansion of the 19th century. As migrant workers started moving around the world they would congregate in certain areas of cities, putting down roots for more Chinese migrants to join them over time.
However, the world’s oldest Chinatown in Manila has a different story entirely.
The cultural heritage of the Philippines is known for its many waves of foreign influence, and one of the most notable groups were the Spanish who colonized the collection of islands in 1565.
After the islands (thriving with indigenous people) were ‘discovered’ by the globetrotting adventurer Magellan, Manila soon became the capital of the Spanish East Indies, and the colonizers began a process of westernising the indigenous culture. Over the next thirty years the Spanish would try to reinvent the Philippines (named after King Philip) in their own image - replacing local architecture, religion and even peoples names with Spanish versions.
But the Spanish colonizers were met with a conundrum.