Coverage and reporting by Angelique Misa
They say the best way to learn history is through food. Last April 23, we walked and ate our way through the history of Binondo and PBCOM, one of the Philippines’ biggest commercial banks. Headed by the renowned Tour guide Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks, selected guests enjoyed the gastronomic experience around the area which is the oldest Chinatown in the world.
Dy brought guests to a culinary trip through the most intimate alleys of the Fil-Chinese dominated district.Aside from being a hub for trade and commerce, Binondo is also a foodie haven and the birth place of PBCOM.
The tour had five food stops at some of the known Chinese restaurants/establishments around Binondo : New Po-Heng Lumpia House, Quick & Easy, Dong Bei Dumpling and Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli.
The food that we had at every stop were Lumpia (which tasted really good because of the fried sotanghon and peanut toppings), Dumpling (freshly steamed!), Empanada/Pancit/ (lutong Chinoy as what they would say), Fried Siopao and of course Eng Bee Tin’s Hopia for dessert!
What made the tour more interesting was the fact that we were learning the history of Binondo while filling our tummies with the different dishes that we had at every stop. The food was amazing!
Of course, the tour also included stops at PBCOM branches in Ongpin, Masangkay, T. Alonzo aand the bank’s very first branch at the Binondo Banking Center in Juan Luna.
Juan Luna in the early days was Philippines’ Wall Street and central financial district, and PBCOM began its operations in 1939. It did not take long before PBCOM became a key pillar in the daily lives of the residents in the area.
Fond stories were told of how deposit account holders would fill the bank premises everyday, how loyal bank clients would come to their branch every morning at the start of their work day. They even became a popular landmark with its impressive rotating doors, in-branch escalator (the first of its kind in the area), and a grand piano in the lobby.
PBCOM had their 4 branches blessed that day and we were lucky to have witnessed it. PBCOM is also the first bank that was owned by a Filipino which is something that they’re really proud of.
Selected guests also had a mini tour at the museum inside PBCOM’s oldest branch. Inside the PBCOM archives were the materials i.e Coin Counter, Grand Piano, Passbook Printer, Check Perforator, Check Writer, Microfilm Reader etc. collected from some of their branches in and outside Metro Manila.
75 years later, PBCOM continues to be one of the country’s respected banking institutions. It has over 69 branches around the country. This year, 2014, marks the bank’s celebration of its diamond jubilee with a commitment to further its legacy with an end-to-end transformation strategy. And we have seen the said transformation when we visited their newly renovated branches. Its customer friendly business centers are made distinctive with a brightly lit red and white interior, customer service bays and glass booths where clients can discuss in detail with their relationship managers.
We went home with new knowledge about Binondo, history of PBCOM and ver happy tummies!