At the heart of Binondo lies Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz. The Plaza is the main square of Binondo, among the largest of Manila’s old Plazas. Then and now, it is surrounded by business, commerce, and whirling traffic since it is at the heart of Manila’s central business district.
Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637) is the patron saint of, among others, the Philippines and the Filipino people. St. Lorenzo Ruiz is Filipino-Chinese parentage, and was born in Binondo, Manila. He became a mayrtir and saint when he faithfully followed God and refused to renounced his Christian faith while being tortured to death. His statue is located in the center of now Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, in front of binondo church.
The most crucial landmark in the Plaza is Binondo Church, a minor Basilica dedicated to Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, a Filipino who was martyred in Japan on September 29, 1637.
SEPTEMBER 29 1637: Death of San Lorenzo Ruiz.
On September 29, 1637, San Lorenzo Ruiz died a martyr’s death in Nagasaki, Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz was a native of Binondo who accompanied the Dominican missioanries into Japan in an attempt to spread Christianity in those islands. At the time, the Tokugawa Shogunate was cracking down on Christians, which led to the persecution, expulsion, and execution of both Japanese Christians and foreign missionaries.
In 1981, the Vatican beatified Lorenzo Ruiz, and in 1987, he was cannonized as a saint, making him the first Filipino saint.
Binondo Church today, where San Lorenzo Ruiz once served, is now a Minor Basilica dedicated to the first Filipino saint. The plaza in front of it, formerly Plaza Calderon de la Barca, is known today as Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz.
His feast day is celebrated on September 28.
Former landmarks that used to stand around the Plaza were the Hotel del Oriente, La Insular Cigar Factory, and the El 82 store of Roman Ongpin. These were destroyed in 1944 and 1945 during World War 2.
A monument to Lorenzo Ruiz stands in the Plaza, accompanied by two fountains that date from the Spanish period.
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