Friday, March 18, 2011

Quiapo Stroll: Raon

Walking two blocks of the little narrow street beside the church (Paterno?), we emerged on another famous narrow strip called ‘Raon’. That is pronounced “ruh-on” in the accent as you would say the name Ramon - just remove the "m", silly! This street is famous for electronics and similar gadgets. But OMG we salivated at the sight of many stores also selling sports things esp the hit of the season (or should we call it the fad of today?), yes, badminton. Too many stores selling too many things badminton that the choices are endless. Tubes of shuttlecocks of every kind are available and very cheap. There are even stores that have string services for a personalized tautness of your badminton or tennis racket. Whew! And the many sports bags on sale were attractively cheap, though you’d instantly know they were mostly ‘copies’ hehe – what with a bright blue and green tennis bag just worth P300? We examined some of those and some did look and feel like they were sturdy enough. Hmmm!!

Raon amazed me with the “sounds”. Yeah, many stores, rows of them sell sound systems like amplifiers, players and just about every stereo, hi-fi, surround systems, whatever. They sell those things either as fully functioning gadgets off the rack or just the the parts from knobs to diodes, transistors, resistors, capacitors, etc etc., I don’t know why I get amazed seeing all those little parts that make them tech things. There are microphones of all kinds, microphone repairmen, laser-pointers, antennas, ah so many things. I even saw PCBs blank and with layout but I did not ask what those were for. Weirdly, many of these ‘sound’ stores are themselves the ‘sports’ stores including bicycles and dumbbells. And yes, trophies hehehe!

But the real killer of a find that caught my undivided attention were the stores that sell loud speakers of all kinds. Some can fit in your pocket while some were taller and definitely wider than me! I think they’re called ‘baffles’? Those are really big and when tested for sound quality, you’d hear the whole neighborhood vibrating wohoaaa! Plus, hear this, there are stores that make and sell ‘videoke machines’ too! Yep, those things where you drop the 5-peso coins so that your favorite song starts playing and you start croaking? Hah, first time I saw the ‘anatomy’ of a videoke machine! And foremost I can tell you, aside from the big TV on top that is either boxed or not, them videoke machines are mostly air inside! Yeah, big room for big speakers but the mechanisms that play your music are nothing but thin DVD players or something like that! Aliw!

Alright, we thought we wanted out of the place and traced Raon towards Quezon Blvd. so we could get a jeep ride to the LRT’s Central Station (where we parked). Still the electronics things flooded both sides of the street – that is aside from the real stores on the side that sell the same gadgets. Of course most are fakes or imitations but they’re all fun to watch nonetheless. Some have interesting brand names to make it sound like or look like the originals. Mind you, there are food stalls too! Tables and/or carts that sell street food of every kind. And being in fake territory, we surmised that even those mineral water bottles being hawked are also fake. Who knows! The only thing not fake, I thought, were the fruits like apples and pears. They’re probably smuggled hahaha!

Reaching the corner of Raon and Quezon Boulevard, the ‘picture’ suddenly changed. We looked left and right to realize that most stores and sidewalk stalls offer a sea of everything ‘jaguar’! Ah, “jaguar” is a term me and my friends use to refer to “gwardya” or “guardia” meaning guards! For etymological purposes hehe, just reverse the syllables and you’ll know why we came up with ‘jaguar’ – “dya-gwar”! Anyway, the products on sale in this area range from guards’ or military uniforms – male or female. Everything from headgear to footwear of every imaginable guards’ wear are available. There are even tailor shops that do them uniforms on site.

Of course there are the gadgets and other ‘military’ bling blings from dog tags to whistles to hunting knives, first-aid kits, gloves, embroidered patches, holsters, fake bullet proof vests, ‘batuta’ and just about everything jaguar that you can think of! We marveled at the binoculars on sale, and they come in many sizes. We tested some and they magnified or zoomed things alright, so we couldn’t really tell what’s the difference between real and fake. Because… how many times have I seen a ‘real’ binocular anyway hehe. It probably matters on the clarity and/or magnification… just a hunch. But at least, the zoomed images we saw were not distorted or inverted hehehe. A companion said ‘they’re good enough for watching people do their private lives at the condo building across mine’ hahaha!!! Pervert!

A pedestrian overpass crosses from Raon to the eastern side of Quezon Boulevard. That invited our attention. First, we thought of going up the overpass just to see how the boulevard looks like from up there. So, we decided to go for it. Ah, it was also crowded with vendors and their wares for sale, but at least it did not look claustrophobic nor ‘easy to get robbed area’ than we think of the famous “underpasses” of Quiapo. But it really is more than crowded. Vendors spread their wares even on the stair steps. What’s on sale? Still from anything to everything that people can think of selling!

There are pencils, stickers, headbands, work tools, playing cards, batteries, nailcutters, cleaning foams, undergarments, knives, flashlights, flat irons, last supper posters, toys, ahh so many things. All are laid out on both sides of the overpass that should otherwise be space for people to walk on. Hey, did I say “undergarments”? Well, yes… bras, panties, briefs, supporters, undershirts, boxers, etc., are laid out in the open for everyone to buy hehe. Many bear the names of respectable brands though we all know those are fakes. I mean they’re not fake as garments per se for I know what a sock or hanky is, but the brands they carry are. There are even sex toys on display. Like? Vibrators or dildos whatever you call them. And they share the limelight with the flat irons, water heaters, cellphone chargers and the likes. Did I also say “knives”? Well yes! Those too, are very much available on display. And there are so many kinds – from the hunting knives that boy scouts and soldiers use to fan knives purportedly from Batangas to even fake swiss-army-knives. Too many!

Let’s go to the other side of Quiapo?! And you’ll know why we went there in my next story hehe!


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