Friday, October 06, 2006


The entire strip of R. Hidalgo Street west of Plaza Miranda at Quiapo Church is now officially a photographers’ haven as made possible by the City of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza’s R. Hidalgo Pedestrianization Project.

Only a couple of months ago I posted an entry about an initiative by John Chua along with the Hidalgo Business Organization to gentryfy R. Hidalgo Street — to relocate the street vendors that clog the entire strip and turn it into a
photographers' haven — a sprawling pedestrian’s promenade and at the same time promote the local photo industry, as well as attract a new wave of photography enthusiasts. It is now a reality!

The ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Thursday was attended by Mayor Atienza, guest of honor (attired in his trademark floral shirt), his son, Ali, and a large contingent of top city hall and barangay officials. Top police brass personnel were also present. The presence of a number of students from the nearby Universidad de Manila added to the festive ambience. And of course, a throng of both professional and amateur photographers with their intimidating photo equipment were there — having a wonderful time taking pictures.

In the above photo, on the mayor’s right wearing a dashing light blue barong and well-coiffed do is the owner of Manila’s popular portrait studio, Bob’s; to the mayor’s immediate left with glasses is the president of Canon Philippines; and the tall man wearing a colorful print shirt is the mayor’s son, Ali, a news anchor at Channel 5 (and supposedly being groomed as the mayor’s political heir).

To provide live musical entertainment, there was the city’s marching band.

There were red dragon dancers and lots of ear drum-busting firecrackers, which provided the local photojournalists with a simulated, though, far from the actual war zone experience.

“Oooh … a camera for me!” is what the mayor seemed to be saying to himself as revealed by his giddy look when presented with a gift by the photo merchants of Hidalgo. “Balato na lang, mayor!” I yelled, but the mayor was much too preoccupied and ecstatic by his new toy to hear my plea.

By the way, the man standing right next to the mayor (wearing a pair of dark Rayban) is the ever ubiquitous Miles Roces (a city councilor or congressman) whose banners with his huge picture are pasted all over Manila — be it to offer his wishes for a happy neighborhood fiesta or warn motorists of certain perilous crossroads or enlighten people with the name of the building in which his banner hangs from or just simply remind forgetful residents what month it is. He is the mayor’s son-in-law so he can do that.

That young man in dark T-shirt is Reggie from the online photo club, PinoyPhotograpers. He presented the mayor with a photo montage of Manila sceneries shot by members (a couple of mine were included).

Miles Roces finally took off his dark shades so as to appease the crowd of photographers who were dying to take a shot of him unmasked.

There was also the customary on the spot media conference with the mayor.

Shortly after his impassioned speech about his ongoing efforts to revitalize the City of Manila, which received numerous thunderous applause from the crowd, he headed back to city hall; however, there were many more fun activities that went on — Nikon provided beautiful models attired in various elegant gowns for the photographers’ delight; Canon provided an ample serving of delicious lunch for all photographers; merchants offered drastically-reduced prices on some of their merchandise; and the Hidalgo Business Organization in conjunction with the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation held “On The Spot Photo Contest.”

Here are some fellow members of PinoyPhotographers proudly showing off the photo montage that was created by Reggie and presented to Mayor Atienza.

Before the event: John Chua (in khaki outfit with a camera slung on his shoulder) making sure everything was in order. I made two friends that day: Dorie, an expat from London (in jeans and white T-shirt with a backpack) and quite savvy with our local history; and Pao (in shorts and photographer’s vest), a very talented and intrepid photographer who will scale great heights just for that perfect shot.
It was truly a wonderful event — a huge block party — in which a good time was had by all.

Thank you, Mayor Atienza!

Thank you, John Chua and the entire Hidalgo Business Organization!

posted by Señor Enrique at 4:39 PM


Anonymous kyels said...

Wow, it's a nice party. Definitely. And there are so many photogs around!


October 07, 2006 1:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's temporary. Give it a couple of months and R. Hidalgo will be another case of Avenida Rizal: grimy and dirty. Atienza's style is to be beautify everything on a surface, totaly Imeldific.

October 07, 2006 3:43 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...


However, are there any signs of R. Hildalgo's old world looks left behind? Like old wooden buildings? And the meandering estero defining the street's direction?

Walked that street for 3 years, attending MLQU, including to an annex situated further down the road which was essentially a very old wooden building circa 1900s or earlier.

October 07, 2006 6:12 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

First I am sad that I couldn't attend this party.
Good your are such a good journalist. In the end I know more by reading your account.

I am glad you explained the who is who. Of course, I knew the Mayor but I thought the young guy was a sportsman...
(last week was his birthday) and Miles Roces is REALLY pissing me off with his posters. He really got a LOT of money to burn. His posters were EVERYWHERE during a "pagoda" in Muntinlupa. I had a hard time to take a street shot without one of his posters in the background.

I know I am a bit of an egoist but from a photographer's point of view this city is becoming too clean and green... ;-)
Quiapo was and is still my favorite part of town. But I like a bit of authentic life. Now it seems that everybody has to behave. The sampaguita sellers aren't allow to cross certain lines, the fortune tellers got their own space, it is all getting a bit artificial... I do hope they don't want to copy Singapore.
But I believe the Filipinos are hard headed enough and I do hope they go back to their usual activities soon :-)

October 07, 2006 12:58 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

There were many amateur and prominent local photographers that showed up, Kyels. And let me tell you, I was the only one with a point and shoot camera ... hahaha! But it did work to my advantage :)

October 07, 2006 1:38 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

In defense of Mayor Atienza, Anonymous, he can only spearhead the city's gentrification endeavors, but it is up to every Manilenyo to do his part and maintain what the mayor had started. For example: use the trash cans for everyone's refuse; also, refrain from spitting anywhere. In fact, no one should spit anywhere!

New York City was once heading downhill with the advent of obtrusive graffiti on subway trains, but the "broken glass syndrome" was finally put into practice by the city, which eventually and completely eradicated this downhill trend. The same can be done in Manila if we all participate and do our part.

October 07, 2006 1:44 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

This section of R. Hidalgo, Amadeo, is on the other side of Quezon Boulevard -- from Plaza Miranda heading to Plaza Goiti.

But there are many old and wooden houses on the other side, which is the area you speak of. I will make an effort to take some pics of that area heading to San Miguel in the near future.

October 07, 2006 1:47 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You were sorely missed, Sidney. I spoke much of you and Jepaperts (Dubai Chronicles) to many photographers I've met.

FPPF (Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation

( )

holds a monthly photo meet/contest at Fort Santiago, and we ought to go to one.

Yes, my friend Miles ... he seems to be vying for God's "Omnipresence" category ... hahaha!

I was there early to attend mass and light some candles and the vendor told me that they had to clear the area because of the mayor's arrival that morning. You mean to say they're actually designating zones for specific vendors nowadays at Plaza Miranda? Whoa! Didn't know that.

I am still without phone service at home :(

October 07, 2006 2:03 PM  

Anonymous milkphish said...

excellent coverage of this event, eric. grabe 'yung camera gear . . . i'm so envious . . . well, only a little :)

miles roces should've kept his raybans on . . . he looks funny w/o them . . . what a megalomaniac he is.

. . . wish i was there . . .

October 07, 2006 2:58 PM  

Anonymous milkphish said...

btw, i wish they'd leave quiapo and plaza miranda alone. i prefer it the old way with their distinct characters . . . kinda like being in mexico.

October 07, 2006 3:01 PM  

Anonymous Connie said...

Does this mean the photo shops are now open on SUndays? Kaya di ako maka-punta dun, SUnday lang ako libre maglamyerda, closed pa. :(

October 07, 2006 5:31 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...


Compact cameras can do amazing stuff too. Well, after all, it depends on the person behind the lens to create an impact and to make a difference.


October 07, 2006 10:28 PM  

Blogger cruise said...

nagulat nga ako sa hildago nung huli akong pumunta doon, nawala yung nagtitinda at ginagawa na nga yung pavement, na picture out ko na kaagad na pagagandahin tulad nung sa avenida. tapos na pala, makabalik nga ulit doon. salamat sa mayor ng manila, nabigyan din tayo ng tambayan at sisigla lalo ang idustrya ng photography sa pinas.

October 08, 2006 6:47 AM  

Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Atienza isn't just trying to make things prettier in Manila, he's also doing a much better job of maintaining the streets. I'm impressed with the man. He gets things done. I hope he runs for president next.

October 08, 2006 8:51 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

I can't remember if I've ever been to Hidalgo. But it looks like they've done a good job of beautifying the street. And I agree with you, it's up to the residents to keep the place clean.

October 08, 2006 10:18 AM  

Anonymous carla said...

my mum and i were walking along r hidalgo that very day. when i first read your entry i thought why didn't we see the party? and yeah, coz it was on the other side and we were walking along the side where the san sebastian church started, hehehe. i do think that's another place to be fixed as i saw all those old houses in dire need or restoration.

October 09, 2006 5:31 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

damn, got goosebumps.

Nice shots... really tight ! :) "Paparazzi grade" hahahahaha.... I meant it in a good way.

Since, point and shoot tend to underexpose most of the shots. I will point you to a link.

Just in case you get into the post-processing.

October 09, 2006 9:28 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Wow talaga.. ang linis linis... tanggal na yung mga fruit/flower/fish vendors. And bago na yung road no more sticky muds !!

I wish you camera lasts forever! Good blog+good shots !

October 09, 2006 9:32 AM  

Blogger jase said...

Where were you on the photos ??? It would be good to see you in some of them :)

October 09, 2006 11:16 AM  

Anonymous Major Tom said...

This should be a boon to the beautification initiative of Mayor Atienza that perhaps this occassion is very close to his heart. Instituting that photographer's special designated area should further tourism in Manila since beauty and splendor are often the thing that catches the photographer's eye.

October 09, 2006 2:09 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Milkphish! I'm telling you ... di papahuli mga Pinoy when it comes to camera gear :) Ako lang and naka-point and shooter doon ... hahaha!

I think Miles has bigger ambitions planned, and those banners and posters of his are to embed his name and face in every voter's mind, I guess :)

Yes, Connie! They are open on Sundays. But there are sidewalk vendors along the side of the streets but not so much as to obstruct as they used to.

I personally like their presence, for they lend a festive air to the whole strip.

You do have a point, Kyels. Actually, I notice that people tend to relax as I take their photos -- like Ali Atienza. I guess, it's because the point and shoot cameras aren't as intimidating.

October 09, 2006 3:22 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Maganda na talaga ang parte ng Hidalgo nayun, Cruise. Also, what I noticed is that most photo merchants welcome yung mga window shoppers or browsers kahit di bumubili. Alam nila one of these days bibili din mga yon pag nakapag-decide na.

I agree with you, Phil. That man ought to consider higher office after his final term. During his speech, he proudly mention that Manila's revenues are now in the high six billion pesos per annum as compared to one or two billion before he took over. His administration was also cited as having consistently appropriated wisely its public funds. So, he must be doing something right :)

I do like the man!

Neither do I remember my ever going through Hidalgo in my youth, Irene. Carriedo and Palanca, yes; Hidalgo, no., we as residents and visitors of the city have to pitch in and help keep it nice :)

October 09, 2006 3:31 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Sayang, Carla! You were on the other side :( You and your mom would have loved it!

BTW, Ivan just announced his Intramuros tour -- walking on various streets and checking out many casas! This seems fun also.

Hahaha ... thanks, S.A! You would've gotten a kick if you saw me that day playing photographer with the big boys ... hahaha!

Hey, thanks for the URL; will definitely check it out.

BTW, meron pa ding mga street vendors pero mga bilao na lang; no carts, and not that many. But they do add color to the newly-refurbished block!

I would've loved to have a pic of me with the mayor, Jase, but not to worry I will one of these days :)

There was actually, a high ranking official from the Department of Tourism present on that day, Major Tom, whom I had the pleasure to chat with. We both knew a certain person (an old friend).

DOT is really supportive of the mayor's efforts in the revitalization of Manila

October 09, 2006 3:42 PM  

Anonymous Toe said...

It's good to know that the Manila mayor is doing what it takes to make Manila clean and beautiful and something we Filipinos could be proud of. Great pics Eric! Now I want to visit Quiapo Church and Hidalgo when I go home without being queasy. ;)

October 09, 2006 4:28 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Toe!

It's really wonderful when the head of the city government really pushes for projects that will benefit most of the city's inhabitants and guests. And Mayor Atienze is tirelessly pursuing many revitalization efforts.

I think you'll have plenty of nicer places to visit when you come back to Manila.

October 10, 2006 12:58 PM  

Anonymous kneeko said...

wowwww ayos ah... thanks for the info senor... pag-uwi ko dyan pupuntahan ko rin... :)

October 10, 2006 7:08 PM  

Anonymous tito said...

I missed that event originally slated the week before but thanks to Milenyo it was cancelled but not leave :(

I should\'ve been there to meet freinds and to look for bargain lenses and maybe join the rummage and photo-op

next time...

thanks for posting

October 11, 2006 6:31 PM  

Anonymous Shutter Box PHilippines said...

R. Hidalgo really looks good nowadays.

There are plans on making R. Hidalgo a regular site for photo exhibits.

There was recently a photo exhibit held there and the response was pretty good.

October 29, 2006 5:19 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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