Exploring the Binondo Church was an incredible journey capturing Manila’s resilience and cultural fusion. Despite enduring wars and disasters, the church stands strong, showcasing the harmony between Filipino and Chinese heritage through its architecture. Beyond photographs, it represents unity and diversity, echoing Manila’s inclusive spirit—a story I aimed to preserve through my lens.
PHOTOS | WORDS BY MARIANO SAYNO
PUBLISHED July 9, 2010
In the heart of Manila’s lively streets, I strolled into Binondo, curious about the Binondo Church. This place, once known as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, now proudly stands as the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, honoring the first Filipino saint recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Entering the church felt like stepping into history. I imagined Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, a young altar boy, spending his days within these walls. The church seemed to hold stories of its past—how it survived tough times, wars, and natural disasters.
It was clear the church had seen some tough days. Despite facing destruction from wars and nature, it stood tall, showing its strength in hard times. The design, especially the bell tower, reflected a mix of influences, showing hints of its Chinese heritage.
I aimed my camera at what remained of its grandeur—the bell tower with its unique octagonal shape and the roof that had been lost to an earthquake in 1863. Each old stone seemed to whisper tales of its former beauty.
The church carried marks of its hardships. A bombing in 1944 had left almost nothing, but somehow, the stone walls and the strong bell tower survived. Yet, even amidst the ruins, there was a feeling of hope.
Beyond its history, the church represented something more significant—the unity of the Filipino-Chinese community and the celebration of diversity in Manila. It wasn’t just a religious place; it symbolized the city’s welcoming spirit and its mix of cultures.
With each picture I took, I wasn’t just capturing scenes; I was preserving a story of strength and unity. It wasn’t just about photos; it was about sharing the tale of a place, its people, and their history, hoping to keep their story alive for years to come.
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