The Urban Roamer’s Quiapo Shopping Guide (Part 1)

It is said that the name “Quiapo” came from the water cabbage plant “kiapo” that used to grow along the riverbanks in the district before. So much has changed as Quiapo grew from a sleepy suburb to an area of frenetic activity happening 24/7 as it gained importance as becoming Manila’s geographic center and part of the bustling commercial center of the city.

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On the flipside, Quiapo has also become a textbook example of urban decay in the city as it has become riddled with problems of traffic, lack of planning, and petty crime activity which in turn have adversely affected the district’s image. Add to that the notoriety it has also gained being the hub of pirated media like CD’s and DVD’s Such a shame as few places in the metropolis can lay claim to have much historic and commercial significance as Quiapo. And as far as commercial activity is concerned, one with a broad picture in mind can see Quiapo as one big virtual shopping complex.

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As I was doing my little research, it was surprising to realize that not much has been written about Quiapo being a shopping hub. Thus, here is the Urban Roamer is going to attempt to write a shopping guide of the district despite the fact that he is not a shopaholic, my humble way to show the readers that Quiapo is more than just a place associated with traffic, thefts, piracy, and the Black Nazarene but a place that holds quite a number of surprises to those who take time to explore it.

Quezon Boulevard

The district’s main thoroughfare linking Quiapo to South Manila and Quezon City in the north named after the Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon is one’s starting point in exploring Quiapo. One can explore either side of the road and check out what the stores there have to offer. The stores along the northbound side are known mainly for the bicycles ranging from the kid bicycles to the mountain bike ones..

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There are also stores and kiosks that sell second-hand items: watches, game consoles, cameras, even authentic CD’s and DVD’s. In a place infamous for piracy, one can still find authentic media here, some of them are even rare or hard-to-find nowadays.

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The southbound side is populated mainly with stores selling military and security-related gear like uniforms, vests, cudgels, belts, even arnis sticks. There are also some stores selling motorcycle gear, picture frames, and electronics.

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The Electronics Hub: the Raon and environs

As far as electronics is concerned, the area around the street formerly known as Raon needs no introduction. Nowadays though, this street that was used to be named after a Spanish Governor General (Jose Raon, tenure: 1765-1770) is now named after Gonzalo Puyat a Filipino industrialist who founded one of the oldest mills in the country. (and father of the more famous Puyat, Sen. Gil Puyat)

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Believe it or not, Raon used to be known as a street lined with record stores where people would go to buy the latest releases of music artists both local and foreign. Today, while there no more full-fledged authentic record stores here anymore, there are still vestiges of Raon’s music legacy, thanks to the presence of a number of stores selling musical instruments. In addition, one cannot also discount the presence of sporting goods stores there selling from basketball gear to dartboards to trophies. (thus, it is more accurate to say about the trophy that was bought in Raon rather than in Carriedo, well more on that later)

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But mainly, Puyat St. or Raon and the outlying streets nearby are more known for electric supplies and electronics like speakers, audio component systems, satellite dishes to name a few. One can also find hardware tools and even computer parts being sold in this stretch of the street.

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DEECO at Sales Street near the corner of Gonzalo Puyat Street, the beloved store for electronics and electrical supplies

Nearby Puyat St. is Ronquillo St., which was also named after a Spanish Governor-General (Diego de Ronquillo, tenure 1583-84) Like its neighbor, Ronquillo St. is also known for electronics, though it has made a name for itself as well being a hub where one can find videoke and gaming machines that are being assembled and sold in the area.

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Evangelista Street

stretching from Recto Avenue to Plaza Miranda is a street named Evangelista, named after a Filipino engineer Edilberto Evangelista who served in the Philippine Revolution helping build defenses for the Filipino troops. Depending on which part of the street you are at, one may find some interesting line of stores in that particular area. The stretch of Evangelista from Recto Avenue to the Raon area is known for heavy equipment supplies like generators, motors, and water pumps. On the part of the street near Plaza Miranda, one can find some stores selling fashion apparel.

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Of course this particular part of Evangelista St. near Plaza Miranda, given its proximity to the Quiapo Church, one should not be surprised to see stalls selling Catholic items like icons, (especially the Black Nazarene) rosaries, even colored candles which represent certain wishes one has in mind that are to be asked of the Black Nazarene. Here also, the lines of faith and mysticism are blurred as one can see among those religious items, things such as charms and amulets. Then there are also herbal goods, including the infamous “pampa-regla” that induces menstruation among women who are not having a period but is said to be an abortifacient.

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Paterno Street

Once you learn that this street is named after Pedro Paterno, a Filipino writer and politician, you might find it odd to have such a street named after him. After all, this particular stretch is known more for its line of optical shops where one can buy affordable eye wear, even sunglasses and other optical items. Thus, this street has earned the reputation being Manila’s optical center.

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To be continued…

© The Urban Roamer

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