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Ivan Man Dy is taking the steps to success

Walking around is literally the business of Ivan Man Dy
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He’s been doing this for five years, and he’s only 31. It’s been a charmed business life for Ivan Man Dy, founder, lead guide and proprietor of Old Manila Walks, a self described “small operation, with just three people” that owns and operates seven highly regarded tours of old Manila, from the majesty of Malacañan Palace to the grubby streets of Binondo.

But such is Man Dy’s passion for the city that he decided to go the entrepreneurial route after a stint in the Heritage Conservation Society, much like Carlos Celdran. Before that, he served as a volunteer docent (guide) at Bahay Tsinoy Museum in Intramuros, which is what he used to form the aesthetic of Old Manila Walks’ entire product line.

“I see it as a cultural tour of the biggest museum I know—Manila,” Man Dy says. “This is the product of years and years of being a history, and of being a Manila boy. I lived eight years in Binondo, 13 years in San Miguel, a stone’s throw away from Malacañang, and then I spent four years going to college in DLSU (De La Salle University).”

He decided to take the plunge and form Old Manila Walks when he was 26, armed with a fluency in English, Filipino and Cantonese, which served him well in one of his most celebrated tours, The Big Binondo Food Wok. A walking and tasting tour of Binondo, Man Dy describes it as “a cultural and historical walk,” which started out as an architectural tour of the great old buildings around Ongpin Street.

And then he realized that he was ignoring the cuisine of Binondo—and so the food tour was born. Starting with P20,000 capital, Man Dy bought a man’s cheongsam and hat (color: red), and bought a portable speaker and microphone. He also created, printed and laminated his flash cards for durability. Man Dy started sending invites to friends through his Gmail e-mail account—which eventually got hacked in Christmas 2007, with the hacker deleting all his contacts, as well. This necessitated the purchase of a domain name,, which now hosts his official business website.

Page 2: Knocking on doors


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