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Speeding through Manila’s thoroughfares

Waiting in Ped Xing

My vision of Manila has been limited to DVDs, Hidalgo, LRT, crowded streets and dark grievous corners where anything can happen. I studied at U-Belt for more than four years and had only seen only the dilapidating side of Manila at that time. But a quick walk through Manila’s inner thoroughfares recently expanded my vision of this old city.

Waiting in Ped Xing

Waiting in Ped Xing

My vision of Manila has been limited to DVDs, Hidalgo, LRT, crowded streets and dark grievous corners where anything can happen. I studied at U-Belt for more than four years and had only seen only the dilapidating side of Manila at that time. But a quick walk through Manila’s inner thoroughfares recently expanded my vision of this old city.

Handless harmonica player beggar

Handless harmonica player beggar

Maybe being confined on a weekend time frame to do an exploration can be a boon as you’ll try to find some destinations within your reach (and budget as well). Since I had nothing to do last weekend, I accepted an invitation from co-blogger, and one of the co-moderator for Explore Philippines Yahoo Groups, Tito to do some photo shoot. Since I have no idea where to go at that time I just left for him to decide where to go even hinting that Manila is ok. And so we decided, Manila it is.

Binondo's purple fire truck and a homeless home

Binondo’s purple fire truck and a homeless’ home

We arrived in Quiapo before 10am where I first rummaged through some DVDs and bought myself a season 1 and 2 of Dr. House and Grey’s Anatomy. Yeah, so bad of me to buy pirated stuff, but I seldom watch TV lately, so I buy these series and watch them on my own time. Asked around for a generic battery for my cam in Hidalgo then proceeded to Plaza Goiti and sat there so I can have a snack first. Did I mention I’m always hungry? Hehe. If you don’t want some street kid to suddenly pop up beside you, hide your food, or else you must give. Haha. Plaza Goiti is the edge of Manila to me, what’s beyond there is new. And following Tito’s (my personal tour guide. Haha) lead, who has done some walking tours with Ivan Mandy, Carlos Celdran and more historically inclined than I am walked me across the border and let me discover Manila in a new light.

Eng Bee Tin hopia craze

Eng Bee Tin hopia craze in Binondo

Escolta, I have seen in a lot of pictures lately, but I never expected it to be clean. I’m such a tourist. I know there are old historical buildings there, but never expected to see impressive architecture akin to walking at some streets in Singapore. There you’ll find the very first buildings from major banks like, Philtrust, Chinabank and HSBC, where they shot that Bamboo video “Pinoy Ako” and one of Sarah Geronimo’s video as well where she was running frantically at the stairs. Imagine being there during Rizal’s time while he describes the streets of Escolta and Juan Luna in his novels. I can just see myself warping back in time.

Sleeping under the shadows at Paco Park

Sleeping under the shadows at Paco Park

I’m also surprised at the reception of people here in Escolta. It would seem that a lot of Photographers frequent the area as they actually ask you to take pictures of them! I dunno, do they ask money after? I understand some kids would ask money, but there was this old lady vendor who Tito was taking picture of and she also wanted to have her picture on my camera. Err… I really don’t want to but she was insistent and even posed by along the cars. Ok I’ll take your picture (there might be a mob around to harass us if I don’t) and show it to you and… delete it later. Haha. I’m so evil. Kidding! Ok my bad, but I’d rather take pictures candidly if possible. There were even a couple of college students who was jokingly asking for their pictures taken. What? Is it for their friendster profile? Haha. I guess Filipino just loves photographs (and being photographed) and I’m really grateful that they are very friendly to photographers in this area.

Admiring a hero

Admiring a hero

We walked towards Binondo, which I really liked. China town is so amusing I like the Chinese signboards which somehow make me feel I’m not in Manila anymore. Enjoyed the church shoot, But what really killed me are those Flaming Purple Fire Trucks! They really amused me somehow, maybe because they look like giant toys. Eng Bee Tin hopia! is also famous here. And they taste good as well! They even have a diet/lite hopia now! We had lunch at Estero where we ordered Beef and Mushroom with Broccoli (by request) and Szechwan Fish Fillet along with Yang Chow rice. Simply delicious and for the price, it’s a winner! To let the high sun pass for a while, we dropped by Panciteria Lindo, where you’ll get a taste of their Siphon Brewed Coffee for only 40 pesos. The place is filled with elders as it seems to be a favorite hangout.

Low sun convex reflection at the Rizal Monument

Low sun convex reflection at the Rizal Monument

Now Paco Park, a small circular impressive graveyard with a quaint little church in the middle is just okay for me for a side trip. Really small place you can walk around (literally) for a short while. But it is worth noting that the remains of the three priests GomBurZa are buried here. Jose Rizal was also temporarily buried here before they moved him to Luneta, so lots of History here. And if you want to get married it’s also a neat venue. Or just pass out the afternoon sleeping under the shade like that one guy I saw with briefcase still intact.

Capturing the setting sun

Capturing the setting sun

The famous Luneta, the origin point of the country, is made more colorful with a variety of people spending their time there. Here you’ll of course find the Rizal Monument, well guarded as always. And guarding Rizal’s back is our foremost hero, Lapu-Lapu. His monument is just grand on top of that platform. Can’t help but admire his placement there. Right kids? Luneta, after all these years is still an amusing place to take your family.

Watching the lights pass by

Watching the lights pass by

And of course we all know Baywalk with the lollipop lights and amazing sunsets. This was our pit stop in this race around Manila (that sounds familiar). There were a lot of photographers there at that time as well which I think are part of a work shop somewhere. But Qtv’s presence there wasn’t an ear pleasing event. Anyways, it was a nice way to end the tour of Manila, which I really enjoyed as I’ve really come to appreciate its historical significance of the place and especially the colorful people inhabiting them. I may post more detailed info in the places in the future. Right now time to blaze ahead at the speed of light!

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