Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Market Tour of Manila: Discovering the Best Buys and Bargains Plus a Lot More (Part 1 of 2)

Wazzup Pilipinas!

A fellow travel and foodie blogger once told me that whenever you visit a certain place, may it be a city or a province, especially outside the country, you have to take a peek at its local market place and see what they are mostly selling. It will give you a good overview of what the people are like in many factors based on what they trade or sell.

That may be quite accurate as we would somehow know what's in popular demand in that particular place. We would get a good idea of what they patronize and would likely use, eat, drink, wear, etc. It's usually the center of most transactions "where forces of demand and supply operate, and where buyers and sellers interact (directly or through intermediaries) to trade goods, services, or contracts or instruments, for money or barter."

You would know how superstitious, religious, health-conscious, budget-conscious, and even how conservative or liberal most of the residents are just by touring their local market place. Somehow, the market place allows you to get a glimpse of its people, and for some, opens a window to what they will soon be like in the near future, unless struck by another mania or fad, a surprising unpredictable turn-of-events, or a disaster so threatening, it alters the normal progression of things.

Flat screen TV monitor allows the people outside the church to view what's happening inside

Crowded church on a Wednesday morning is not so unusual

The famous Quiapo church , the home of the Black Nazarene
Color candles with each color representing a particular meaning

I wonder where hey were basing the meanings of each color

Candles burning as an offering to the Lord while accompanied by prayers
Nympha showing us the many varieties of wares available around Quiapo

Our Market Tour, organized by Smokey Tours, takes us on a trip down old Manila town proper. They made us visualize a past almost completely forgotten by the older us, and unknown to the new generation. It made us realize that nothing in this world remains constant and forever enduring.

We all set out to explore Quiapo by foot originating from the LRT Carriedo station we used as a meeting point. We passed through several stalls selling assorted wares, including fake chocolates with imported brands, which led us to the popular Quiapo church (The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene canonically known as Saint John the Baptist Parish and colloquially known as Quiapo Church) and is home to the 17th century life-sized image of the Black Nazarene. 

The church was uber crowded on a Wednesday morning, I still could not believe that there would still be people selling herbal plants meant not only to cure pain and sickness, but also to do the unthinkable..... fortune tellers, lucky charms, ..and they have these right next to the church? To believe in such somehow contradicts to our faith in a higher presence above.

A old lady selling leaves that are said to be medicinal

One of the most profitable business around Quiapo church  is selling candles

Lots of rosaries of all kinds being sold around the church of Quiapo

Even the handicapped is selling sampaguita flowers on a hot Wednesday morning

Fortune tellers all lined up and ready to guess your fortune

A street vendor selling birds and cages

A lady selling huge bags ideal for shopping around the area

Assorted toys being sold also

Even wind chimes and Chinese lucky charms can be found here

A boy looking into the toys being sold by the lady

We were a bit hesitant to bring out our cameras since a seller warned us that there are a  lot of bad elements roaming around the vicinity. It was good of them to warn us but quite disappointing that many of our fellow Filipinos are still settling for a life of crime - pickpockets, snatchers, and other disgusting dirt-bags of our society. This is the other side of Manila where not all people are friendly, and if you do not watch your back and become too careless, you may end up without a wallet, or worst, untimely become lifeless on the dirty pavement.

But, as we all know, not all criminals belong to the less fortunate. Many of our fine gentlemen men and women of society have their own huge share of robbing us blind of the town's coffers. Don't we also limit it to the Philippines, but sadly our country probably belong to the most corrupt.Forgive me but I really hate it when there's a mention of notorious crooks since I was a former victim of these misfits.

The "tirador" or slingshot

Just in time when we saw some "tirador" (slingshot) which may have a double meaning in Tagalog since it could denote a person "hitting" innocent people. It gave a few memories of childhood but not of playing with it, but of being afraid of it since my playmates mostly used it to hit birds and other unsuspecting small animals they caught their eyes on.

Baskets of all shapes and sizes comparably a lot cheaper than at the malls

Decors of all kinds that are mostly hand-made with raw materials like shells and bamboos found in the Philippines

Another uniquely Filipino toy called the "sungka"

I was a nice and friendly neighborhood kid during my childhood days and never touched any form of weapon like a slingshot, until I was introduced to the Internet which aroused my interest to explore and discover but still not use it to harm or kill anybody. I still don't like using a slingshot, but I'm a good shot when I use it to hit a can.

The arch signifying entrance to the Muslim Community

A visit to the Majid Al-Dahab or Golden Mosque of Manila at the end of Gunao street showed us how our Muslim brothers say their prayers. As compared to the Roman Catholics, I saw very few people at their mosque, but I saw how seemingly more solemn they observe their rites.

But before going there, we passed by some of the stalls where they sell their own distinctive wares, including the big dried Tuna fishes, and some bottled palapa - a mixture of thinly chopped "sakurab" (Muslim Mindanao scallion), finely sliced "luya tiduk" (Philippine Bird's Eye chili), pounded "layo pagirison" (ginger) and some toasted grated niyog (coconut).

These huge wooden decors being sold somewhere near the arch just beside the Muslim barangay

Intricate designs and colors of the wooden decors
Also sold here in the Muslim community

Bottled "palapa"
Smoked-Dried fishes

Jonathan and Nympha  looks on at the smoked-dried fish and other wares being sold at the Muslim community
Nympha of Smokey Tours wearing a muslim hat

The entrance to the Manila Golden Mosque

We went inside to see how our Muslim brothers say their prayers

Entrance to the Mosque, but we didn't go in

A Muslim reading their Holy Book

More photos of the Manila Golden Mosque

Some Muslim brothers were also praying outside the Golden Mosque
While others pray inside accompanied by their book

No one is allowed to bring their slippers or shoes inside the golden Mosque

The Golden Mosque - literally

Jonathan and Nympha while discussing infront of Bahay Nakpil-Bautista

We also passed by Bahay Nakpil-Bautista along Bautista, formerly Barbosa street. The house is a landmark in Quiapo and was built by Dr. Ariston Bautista and his wife Petrona Nakpil. The childless couple invited Petrona’s  brothers and sisters to live with them.

One of her brothers was Julio Nakpil, a Katipunero and musical composer who was commissioned by supremo Andres Bonifacio to write a draft for the Philippine national anthem. Nakpil eventually married Andres Bonifacio’s widow, Gregoria de Jesus.

Dr. Bautista loved to entertain, thus the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista was constantly alive with parties - opera music played by an orchestra, and delicious food served on fine china and crystal.

Bahay Nakpil-Bautista
Below are some of the videos I took while Nympha was giving some information about the places we visited.

Apparently, we were not only checking out the market places but also exploring the iconic sights and establishments that are popular in the area. Manila is really teeming in heritage structures and culture that there are so many places to explore and learn from to understand its rich history and allow it to serve as our guide as we create new episodes or chapters of our lives.

More about our Market Tour of Manila on part two of this story....soon.

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