Friday, March 18, 2011

Quiapo Stroll: The Church Area

Yes, Quiapo in Manila, and this is such a realization. Having lived most of my life in the metropolis, I had this assumption that everyone may/should have already seen Quiapo. But with many folks I encounter/ed especially on other islands, I learned that they have only heard about this notorious place and the generally bad stories about Quiapo. Thinking about those views, I realized, I too had similar bad thoughts about the place. Still have sometimes, and no one can blame anyone for thinking so. There is probably never a day that no petty crime would happen in that place. So I don’t consider going there ‘fun’ but sometimes ‘very’ necessary. Like when? Like this time that I have to tell you something about Quiapo… so I had to go there again – with some friends of ocurse. And come to think of it. I liked it. Don’t’ worry, I emerged safe and still whole after this visit! Let’s make the rounds?

Church. Ah that is the most common landmark in the area, right? Yes, commonly called the ‘Quiapo Church’ or the ‘Black Nazarene Church’, but did you know it is called the “St. John The Batist Parish”? We learned about that while inside the church and asked some of the church employees. Have you seen it inside and out? Ah, I hear many of you saying “no” and I can’t blame you. I know people who have been there, prayed or attended mass services there, but they couldn’t tell if they have seen the totality of the church. Even us during this visit, we could not just go anywhere. Why? Because of the sheer number of people inside and many vendors outside, plus mugger-looking men who seem to have nothing to do in life but just hang about the area. And, when you are in this area, it is not generally advisable to take out phones or cameras for a pictorial as the gadgets attract snatchers, their friends, cousins and just about all the mugger-looking men hanging around. Duuu!

Thus, don’t expect this series of Quiapo stories to be peppered with my usual photographs.

When the moon aligns with ‘whatever it has to align with for a miracle’ though, you might chance upon this church and its vicinity where you’d feel safer walking about. Like when is that? When the moon aligns with ‘whatever it has to align with for a miracle’ hahaha?! Yeah, there are those times when the city government or the church authorities would clear the sides and front of the church of those vendors, beggars and ‘nothing-to-do’ men hanging around. Voila, it suddenly becomes a wonderful place to visit. And take note, when this happens (they usually, ceremoniously announce it on TV as if it was beyond their scope of work and a big favor they’re doing to the public). Go there in the mornings when those muggers are still asleep or probably still lazing around to be any interested in mugging you hehe! I am hypothesizing that those criminals are usually drank the night before, so they’re not up that early in the mornings. I could be wrong, y’know!

Let’s go around…

Jeepney stop. This is the right side of the church if you were facing the altar, and that is called the Quezon Blvd. When church and city authorities decide to clean this place up of vendors like in this picture, it becomes what it used to be, a jeepney stop, for people to have easy access to their commute rides (if you drive going to visit this place anyway, God Bless You). And yes, there becomes an ‘official’ parking lot in the same area – though if you parked there, God Bless You too. The church inside even becomes brighter as there is more illumination c/o the morning sunlight. In a few minutes however, just when those who drove the vendors away are still around but already looking elsewhere, they troop back to position themselves in the area together with a platoon of ‘fortune tellers’ and even ‘faith healers’. Thus, the jeeps and vans stop over at the middle of the road causing heavy traffic almost every godforsaken hour of daylight. But you’d probably won’t care if you came to this area commuting and walking from another way. Is there another way? There are, and let’s talk about them later.

Plaza Miranda. Don’t start asking college students or younger kids what and where that is. Chances are, they won’t know what is Plaza Miranda. Do you?!! Look again at the topmost picture in this article. Where that vehicle is parked, that IS your Plaza Miranda. More practically, the place is known as "the parking area in front of Quiapo Church". If you use that description, everyone would probably say “now you’re talking sense” hehe. You can debate whether it’s a plaza, a park or a parking lot. Yes, the ground has been fitted with “marble slabs” or a semblance of it where many of the slabs easily went a missing or a crushing. Patches of cement have replaced them, where missing. A friend tried ‘educating’ me that it is not “anymore” a parking lot as only “select personalities and VIPs” are allowed to park there. And I said, “therefore, IT IS STILL a parking lot, even if God Himself parks there”. Di ba?!

Let’s move around the area in my next entry…

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