Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz
Binondo, Manila

Binondo is Manila’s Chinatown. Its Minor Basilica and the plaza is named after Lorenzo Ruiz, the famous Binondo native of Filipino and Chinese descent known for being the first Filipino saint. As an altar boy in his youth to the church that will be renamed after him, he went under the scholarship of the Dominicans. He lived a very normal life as a family man until he was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard. This incident led Lorenzo Ruiz to leave the place by coming with Dominican priests on a mission to Japan (1636).

But the 17th century Japan under Tokugawa Shogunate they encountered upon arriving in Okinawa is hostile to Christians. In fact, persecutions are around to force converts to renounce their faith. Ruiz and company were immediately captured and brought to Nagasaki where they went through several forms of torture that forced some of Ruiz’ companions to renounce their faith. Ruiz never did and died for it.

Ruiz was beatified in 1981 by the late John Paul II during a Papal visit to Manila, the first beatification held outside the Vatican. Six years later he was elevated to sainthood.

Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz today is not only a square that honors the martyrdom of the Binondo native, it also carries a monument that celebrates the friendship of the Filipinos, the Filipino-Chinese and the Chinese.

Ex Manila mayor Joselito Atienza had renovated the plaza in the mid-2000s like a bunch of other plazas, parks and places of interest within his jurisdiction as part of his program to reinvigorate the the city (Buhayin ang MayniLA). The most prominent changes he did to Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz was to restore the function of the plaza’s fountains (which are very similar to the Carriedo fountain in Plaza Santa Cruz), and provided dramatic lighting to it so that by nighttime locals and visitors can safely hangout around the area. But even at daytime the homeless pester the pedestrians stopping by and possibly smalltime pickpocket people man the crowd. Police cars often patrol the area.

Going to this place in groups is a good idea. Another nice spot in Manila is wasted.