I thrive in organized chaos. That, I guess, is why I love going to Quiapo. The (bootleg) music blasting your eardrums to smithereens, jostling for space with the carts, the heat, the scent of candles burning…ah. It’s an experience. And I keep coming back for more because of…
- The interesting mix of religious piety and superstition. You could come out of Quiapo Church, or the Church of the Black Nazarene, after a solemn novena and walk straight to fortune tellers who’d tell you your chances of working overseas or finding true love. Plus merchants selling amulets or anting-anting. It never ceases to fascinate me (Trivia, my parents were married there in 1964).
- The sheer variety of goods everywhere. From fruits to socks to mobile phones to makeup to rat killer to faux designer bags to manicure sets to moth balls and old coins fashioned into jewelry, name it, Quiapo has it all for you (incidentally, the first SM branch was built, and still is there).
- Hidalgo Street. Photography enthusiasts regularly make that pilgrimage to Quiapo for equipment priced lower than your usual shop in the mall. Henry’s Camera and Photo Supply (+632 733 7721) is a good place to start. Hidalgo also has ukay-ukay stalls worth getting lost into.
- Excellente Ham at Palanca Street. An iconic staple in many households during Christmas. It has the right mix of smokiness, sweetness and saltiness, for me at least.
- Quinta Market, under the Quezon Bridge, or sa ilalim ng tulay. Visiting friends and family would love the beautiful handicrafts at reasonable prices. Hindi ko pa rin alam kung paano nila pinapasok yung mga miniature dioramas sa loob ng lapad.