This past weekend saw us head out to explore some hidden parts of Manila, including the Quiapo and Divisoria areas. These areas are known for having cheap goods, including grey-market photography equipment and inexpensive eye glasses made while you watch. In Quiapo, optical craftsman were essentially grinding and cutting lenses for new glasses in the street, right next to vendors selling fruits and vegetables. Quiapo, one of the older parts of the city, is full of narrow streets and alleyways, lined with dingy shops, twisting this way and that, while in Divisoria endless street vendors lined the sidewalks and alleys selling cheap clothes, home goods, and useless knickknacks and baubles. At the Quiapo Cathedral, homeless street urchins ran around selling religious trinkets and begging for money from the tourists and the steady stream of prayerful locals coming and going from the cathedral.
These areas can be very busy, crowded, and dirty. The drainage in this part of the city, even more so than other areas, is almost non-existant and even a small rain can cause localized flooding of streets. The drainage that does exist is often choked with trash. While I wouldn’t necessarily say these areas are dangerous, at least during the daytime, they are known for pickpockets, purse snatchers, and bag slashers, so one definitely needs to keep a close eye on personal effects.
But all that is a large part of what makes these places interesting.