HomeAnuaryo/Annales: Journal of Historyvol. 11 no. 1 (1993)

Spanish Binondo: The Birth and Death of a City

Cornelio R. Bascara



If the musty smell of decadence rises from the corners of Binondo today, then what Bertolt Brecht said on dying cities is true: Von diesen Stadten wird bleiben: der durch sie hindurchging, der Wind! "All that will be left of these cities will be the winds that blow through their streets!" (Collison 1980: 44). Today, Binondo is hardly a memory of its once opulent and irrevocable past. Everywhere in Binondo are sights of decay: decrepit colonial-type houses hanging on desperately, the old and noble esteros named after the Queen of Spain are clogged with wastes, their banks laden with refuse and human excrement; the unpaved streets are perennially muddy even during summertime; the street corners have become dumping grounds of urban garbage; the canals and sewers are murky waters bearing deadly diseases. Binondo now has these signs of a putrefying city. And its ruins have very little to tell of its old glory.