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Friday, December 14, 2012

RAMADA MANILA CENTRAL Staycation + Discover Binondo

Two years ago,I was walking the streets of Binondo with a dslr camera on one hand and a lot of 'caution' on the other.I was with a group of young photographers and it was the first photowalk for many of us.A photowalk is when you walk around an area and take a photo of whatever interesting object you encounter.I know Manila,I know its rich history and its character.I know it has a lot of interesting places for photography and I also know that the number of homeless people wandering its streets and sleeping in its parks outnumber the many photographic landmarks it has.I am sorry if I have such a bad impression of the place but that's the reality of it.

Manila is beautiful but it is infested.So I don't really understand the reaction of the city when a Hollywood actress with the name of Claire Danes visited many years ago and remarked that "Manila smells of cockroach".They even declared her persona non grata.But what the actress said is true.Did you notice I used the word "is" instead of "was"?.Because instead of the city government of Manila proving her wrong, they did nothing.Or if they are doing something,it doesn't show.Street children (and adults alike,minsan nga,whole family) still rule the streets and public spaces.Go to Raja Sulayman Park, Malate,The Central Post Office area,Intramuros, Rizal Park,Lacson underpass leading to Quiapo Church (and more in front of the church.),Recto,even the underpass in front of the City Hall (shame),and yes,even Binondo.It's true,Manila smells of cockroach,and of urine and of spit.It's the truth.

That's why,when my photography group announced that the photowalk will be in Binondo, one of my eyebrows raised.Why Binondo?


Because Binondo is Binondo.With it is more than 400years of rich heritage and history.This is where one can witness the fusion of Filipino and Chinese culture as our Tsinoy forefathers (mostly from Fujian Province) adapted to the local way of life.The Binondo of today is stripped of distinct Chinese structures (perhaps due to the destruction brought about by World War 2) but the rich Chinese culture and tradition lives on.Yes,the Philippines has a small minority of Chinese decent but let's not forget ---- small but affluent and influential at that.

With the growth of other urban areas like Makati and Ortigas,the Chinese community in the Philippines found other sanctuaries,but many have stayed in Binondo and the place has never been as vibrant.Proof are high rise condominiums and other mixed use developments.And of course,hotels like that of Ramada Manila Central which is the first business hotel at the heart of Southeast Asia's oldest Chinatown.Some even claim it's the World's oldest Chinatown!

READ my initial post on my DISCOVER BINONDO SERIES here: 
DISCOVER BINONDO: Dong Bei Dumplings


Ramada Manila Central is easy to find.It across the street from Binondo Church.When I was here early this year,I was privileged to check into their rooms.One of the striking features of the rooms facing Ongpin is the view of Binondo Church's majestic dome.Notice one of the photos I posted below,If I were not the one who took the picture,I might have mistaken it to be taken from a building near St.Peter's Basilica in Vatican (if there is any), or something of that effect.


The hotel is relatively new but in a place like Binondo where dirt,dirt and more dirt would greet you once you step out of the streets,managing to keep the place looking new and smelling fresh could be a big challenge.I say they are doing a good job doing that.The room,the bed cushions,the pillows and even the towel all smell good.I think I said before that the choice of a wooden floor instead of carpet is a perfect choice.That sure is paying off.Plus,I like the idea that all rooms are non-smoking rooms.

We stayed in an Executive room with a queen size bed.What sets it apart from a twin bed is that the bath area has a glass wall with blinds that you can open or close at will.If you check in as a couple,make sure to make it clear that you stay in one with a matrimonial bed.We were mistakenly booked in a room with two separate beds so I immediately requested that they transfer us in another room.Executive rooms come with a bathtub.This is the nth time I will say "I loooove bathtubs".

Back to the bed, our bed was that of a 5-star hotel bed.The cable tv has a lot of channels to choose from.And since it's in Chinatown,there are many Chinese Channels to choose from.Unfortunately,no MTV China which I have been dying to watch since missing the title of a love song I saw while at Crimson Mactan a few moths ago.
The restroom is spacious with a separate shower section other than that of the bathtub.It's bare of any accents though,I thought it could use a little more drama in it,and the light is a bit too dim I guess.I would prefer to have it a little brighter.Not too bright please.

If there's one thing my wife loves about the restroom,it's this thing she calls 'panghugas ng buday' ---referring to the washer attached to the toilet.That's one thing I also look for in many hotels in the Philippines.I prefer it to be thoroughly clean too!


Wifi is complimentary but we don't usually bring laptops when in staycation as both mobile devices are connected 24/7 so I was not able to check the speed.
I love taking photos of my wife at night once she is already comfortably tacked in bed (snoring), and observe how the room registers in my dslr.I thought a little more drama or accent is lacking in the room but I can't pinpoint what it is.

READ MORE about my past review of the rooms here: RAMADA MANILA CENTRAL Hotel along Ongpin Binondo Opens Today!

My apologies if we also didn't try the restaurant.There were too many food finds we wanted to try in our list.They have a spa section at the ground floor,next to the main entrance.Also failed to check it given the very limited time.Will try it next time perhaps.
and where else can you find this many newspapers in Chinese? :)

Overall,a Ramada Manila Central Staycation is a worthy experience.Or maybe, worthy is lacking to describe it.

This will be my/our last staycation experience for 2012 and what a good wat to close it I guess.So far,each hotel we tried offered a different kind of experience due to their unique in-house features as well as the attractions and places of interest within the area it is located.The Ramada Manila Central +Binondo tandem certainly falls in one of my favorites this year.A year-ender summary is in order.

Soon,I will be updating this post to include summaries +links of individual posts of our Discover Binondo +Food Adventure.If you don't see any updates below, please feel free to check it back in a week or two.In as much as we did,I am sure Binondo will entice you to pay it a visit.


 1.DISCOVER BINONDO: Dong Bei Dumplings 

 Dong Bei Dumplings Binondo


4. "Tikoy Daliri" and Vegetarian Hopia at PO CHUAN TIN BAKERY Binondo



Just like what I said in my tripadvisor review, there's so much to see and do and taste and experience in Ramada Manila and Binondo.

is located at Ongpin cor Quintin Paredes Streets, 1006 Manila Philippines.
It's just across the street from Binondo Church.


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