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An insight into the delights of Quiapo! (Manila)

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I read this on Facebook, shared by one our Expat InterNation's members, Craig Burrows . I though t it was a wonderful description of just how colourful our adopted home can be!

From the post of Sonny R Santiago.

CITI TREK 8 Quiapo!

Over sensitivity. As I was beginning my TREK, I noticed that I was protective of my right ankle. I was walking slower than usual and tended to feel every twitch and tightness. After a short while, I realized that my ankle was ok. I was just fearful of getting hurt again.

I told myself… much like when somebody has hurt you! You get very sensitive to every word and action of the person who hurt you. You notice everything.. tone of voice, look of the eyes, twitch of the lips. And you begin reading things that are not there… very much like feeling the twitching on the ankle… anyway, the point is, when we become oversensitive, we over react… keeping things balanced, realistic, and open would help. Knowing that there is a tendency to over react is in itself a good safeguard… Just an aside while walking to/from train stations.

Quiapo: FESTIVE. It’s fiesta time. That’s the best way I can describe Quiapo. Sight and sound… shapes and colors… personalities and character! The TREK 8 picture album captures a this… not as vividly but you can get an idea. We are talking of a small area not bigger than Legaspi or Salcedo Vil. In Makati… an area bound by Rizal Ave. to the west, Quiapo Bridge to the east, C. Palanca St. to the south and halfway to CM Recto to the north. The center, of course, is the Quiapo Church and Plaza Miranda directly fronting the Church.

One can buy anything and everything. Clothes (from inside out, top to bottom), Accessories, Food (boxed, wrapped, fresh, ulam, kakanin, etc.), Fruits, vegetables, flowers birds, figurines, candles, spiritual and not so spiritual and somewhat downright mundane things. Further towards CM Recto, there are tools, equipment, hardware items, electronics, etc. What struck me was the array of colors… bright and happy… really very much in our culture. There was fun in the disorder. Excitement in the sight, sound, and even scents of the place.

Imagine the scent of.. fruits and vegetables, castanas, chemical of the clothe, candles burning, flowers, oils and root crop, different kinds of food cooking (street food or otherwise). Yes, even the smell of the “canal” (surprisingly very little) was all part of the character.

There was a band playing and a parade of pre-school or Kindergarten students all dressed in different costumes of the world. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have paid attention but now, I had to stop because I found each and every kid in the procession soooo cute and adorable! The sound of hawkers, a band, even the grating of siense to iron cast pots, utensils against plates, laughter, jeering… the sounds join in with the activities and colors and scents. You simply feel alive!

I was able to hear catch half a mass at the church. Lit different colored candles, each color had a special petition… love, business, relationships, etc. I bought the bunch that has all the colors and lit them all together. Certainly can use a little push in all directions. Do I believe in them? Well, let us just say that a moment of focused petition to him who has the power will certainly help. The candles just make itmore interesting.

Quiapo, It was exciting, festive… where being “pinoy” simply is... happy and more fun!

Blasts from the past: I was able to buy athletic socks at about 40% the price I paid for something similar in a department store, a pair of reading glasses at 50%. Of course, the things you will not find elsewhere – Excellente cooked ham (favorite of Ruthie’s Dad and my Papa), the hopia store beside (Jing’s favorite. Of course, he prefers the babuy). Hey! The purpose of the trek does not include shopping. It’s just a fun sideline!

I decided to walk via C. Palaca to go to the Ilalim ng tulay. The commercial stores selling kitchen thingies are still there. Peeped at SingKiangHeng. Bythe door was good old Pacita who I have not seen in 20 years. We used to buy our tools and equipment for Nadine’s bakeshop there. We would just call Pacita and she would price and prepare everything for pick up. Blasts from the past this area.

Along Carriedo st. which by the way used to be a “car street” is now a walking st. I remember being brought there by my parents when school year was about to start because we had to buy shoes. This is the street where SM started.

I saw Feati University. The high school where my brother Jing graduated from. After having gone through practically all the schools in Manila and some in Taytay, he finally settled in this school wherehe turned everything around. He graduated core commander of their PMT and president of their school council. Of course, with that, he was awarded the school medal.

Police. Funny!!!?. Anyway, along this st., I experienced something funny. I noticed the vendors on the street suddenly moving their items to the side walk. There was a rhythm to the movement but really no hurried. When I looked further down the street, there was a police patrol car coming… supposedly to inspect and enforce the law. About the distance of Protected content , the vendors start moving to the sides. The moment the patrol car passes, they leisurely go back again. The picture in my mind is similar to when you get a stick and slowly pass it through water. .. there is parting of the water, then a going back right after the stick passes.

Then you will hear side comments from the vendors, “ang aga-aga nagde-delihensiya na!” Keep that untranslated. Dyahe.

TRUST Issues

I asked the people from the ilalim ng tulay for directions on how to reach the muslim mosque. The first reaction was to discourage me from going because IT IS DANGEROUS. They are muslims, according to them, in a tone that seemed to say that it is enough to fear going across. It was as if there was a great divide. Past the tulay was muslim country and ‘thou shalt not cross”. I crossed.

The area was a totally different place. People were dressed differently. The food stalls sold different items. The stall owners spoke of the products from Mindanao – a different onion, different fish, etc. The funny thing was that I had a totally different experience. When I reached the gates of themosque, I approached a group of men and asked if it was alright to enter. They were quite happy to let me in, show me around and tell me of the history of the mosque. I told them that I did not want to affect any sensibilities. They said, “of course not, you can go around. Just do not enter the center which is a place of worship.

Coming from there, I talked to the ones selling the vegetables outside the mosque. They were excited to explain what they (vegetables were). Mind you, they never said that their vegetables were better, they just said they were different and told me how best to appreciate it. 6.g mash the white onions with garlic to make a pasty sauce for dipping or marinading. NOTE: DIFFERENT does not mean better or worse. It is not to be afraid of. It simply IS. In fact it makes the world a lot more colorful!

As an aside. my being different made people (from both sides of the bridge) a little wary. They look at me with raised eyebrows. I noticed that as soon as I talk to them and be nice to them, they respond with a big smile. It reminds me of a foreigner’s observation. In the west, there is generally trust until trustis broken. In the Philippines, there is no trust until trust is earned/won. Think about that.

We need to start tearing down walls. This country is getting way too divided. Rich from poor, Christian to Muslims, Kaaway-kakampi, ethnicity to ethnicity. Break down the walls and make your world bigger… brighter… nicer.

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