Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Instead of reopening Avenida Rizal to vehicular traffic as a means to ease the overall congestion in the Santa Cruz and Quiapo areas of Manila, it might proved wiser for the newly-elect Mayor Lim to first start by getting rid of the vendors that make it impossible for pedestrians to comfortably walk along our sidewalks. Take for example those along both sides of Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo that are no wider than ten feet, but two-thirds of which the vendors occupy quite freely.

These photos were taken a little after two o'clock in the afternoon; however, imagine how extremely crowded the sidewalk would get during the rush. Such condition, as we know, would eventually proliferate pickpockets, and quite exponentially at that. Furthermore, it wouldn't be surprising if Avenida Rizal's sidewalks would also become just as crowded once the avenue is reopened to vehicular traffic.

What's even more alarming is that some of these sdewalk vendors openly admit they pay between one to 300 hundred pesos a day to certain authorities. On the other hand, the legitimate shopkeepers also extend their alloted store spaces by occupying the sidewalk right in front of their shops, or rent them to other vendors.

Mayor Lim, whose recent election campaign platform was law and order, may do well by allocating his attention to these alleged collusions between the sidewalk vendors and certain officials of our barangay and national police force. In so doing, he may discover those sidewalk vendors who occupy large segments of our sidewalks (as in these photos) and streets (such as Raon and Evangelista) as a major cause of traffic snarls that plagued the city's downtown area.

Anyway, glance through these photographs and tell me if you'd be comfortable enough to stroll along these crowded sidewalks. Some of you may just opt to just walk along right on the street, but only to end up hindering vehicular traffic in the process.


posted by Señor Enrique at 2:41 PM


Blogger Amadeo said...


This piece is like part of the evolution of the bangketa. True in most cities in the islands, or make that, most congested cities.

In more romantic times, I am reminded of what the legendary founder of Bank of America, Amadeo Giannini, did after the 1905 earthquake of San Francisco. He set up his first bank in a sidewalk and called it banco, most probably using a small table with stool.

To this day, in our dialect bangko still means chair or stool. And its diminutive is still bangkito.

June 20, 2007 8:24 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, its really an urban challenge to walk on the streets of Quiapo. Add the mass of humanity, heat,pollution as well as blight to the crowded sidewalks (not to mention the possibility of pickpockets). Even with all the local culture, its quite a challenge to entice people (and tourists alike) to explore the district. That said, for the serious culture vulture, Quiapo is a treasure trove of tradition, architecture and history. I just hope the city government can make it easier for ordinary folks (and for the people of Quiapo themselves) to lift it from its rut.

June 20, 2007 9:39 PM  

Blogger Ean said...

You're lucky if you only cross paths with a pick pocket. Sometimes, hold-uppers (if such a word exists in the english language) would use the crowd to hinder pursuers after they mug some unlucky passersby.

The hot sun, the stinky streets, the air pollution. I only pass by these streets when I really have to. (DVD anyone?) I usually go with a lot of people and dress down to the basic black shirt, jeans and flip-flops.

be warned, traffic becomes worse on fridays.

June 20, 2007 10:31 PM  

Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Eric,

The one thing I really admire about your photography is the ability for each one (esp the ones with people) to tell a story. I started to notice it when you took pictures of those weddings that got stuck in a parade a few posts back. I completely sympathized with the couple and ended up asking myself: "What could get any worse?"

In this set naman, I especially adore the one with the little girl in the white summer dress. It seems to have its own story somehow. The cute little girl seems angry because her Mom forced her to wear something so feminine, which really is in sharp contrast to her tomboyish haircut. Though she got her way with the shoes. One could just hear her whines and complaints.

Ang galeng, Eric. Para kang si Norman Rockwell.


June 20, 2007 10:39 PM  

Blogger Unknown said...

Looks to me like a trap. Makes it easier for people with criminal intentions to operate and easily escape after the crime.

We have the same situation in what we call "downtown" here in Bacolod City and it's the same thing in Calle Real (Iloilo's equivalent to downtown or Quiapo). That's why I no longer go to these places even if people say you're likely to get a good bargain there.

June 20, 2007 10:41 PM  

Blogger Ean said...


Ilonggo ka man gali ay. Didto man ko halin pero wala ko kabalo sang ngalan sang mga dalan. Downtown lang tawag ko sa lugar nga lapit sa freedom grandstand. Amo na namin mo nga Calle Real?


Ilonggo ka pala. I came from Iloilo too but I'm not familiar with the street names. I refer to the places near the vacinity of freedom grandstand as 'downtown.' Was that what you meant by Calle Real?

BTW, Whats your blog address? ^_^

June 21, 2007 12:44 AM  

Blogger Photowalker said...

You're very lucky. You shot Quiapo and still have your camera with you. I've always wanted to shoot the place (especially the DVD area) but am really worried that I might not come home with my one and only digicam.

I've witness snatching incidents there already. And even with the crowd, no one even bothered to stop the snatcher.

June 21, 2007 4:10 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Amadeo,

Ansel Adams, in his biography, mentioned in some detail that San Francisco earthquake; they were living just outside of the city at that time.

Very interesting information about Bank of America. Thanks for sharing :)

June 21, 2007 6:50 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Actually, only recently, fellow forum members of an online photography group thought of doing a group street photography. I suggested for them to start at Quiapo and end it at Luneta. They did; everyone enjoyed the day.

As you said, Anonymous, "Quiapo is a treasure trove of tradition, architecture and history." And to a street photographer, there is nothing more exciting an area in the entire Metro Manila than Quiapo.

If somehow Mayor Lim could start clearing our sidewalks and other walkways, Manila's downtown could surely attract even more visitors, including foreigners.

The tight passageways are absolutely a turn-off :(

June 21, 2007 7:00 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You described Quiapo well, Ean, yet I enjoy walking its streets now and then simply because it has "life." Also, it is uniquely Manila.

At Hidalgo Street near SM Outlet store at Palanca Street is where I get my pictures printed and buy my photography stuff. Afterwards, I'd usually head over to Ongpin for tea and dimsun.

However, I never venture into these neighborhoods alone after dark ... hehehe.

June 21, 2007 7:10 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I walk these streets and take pictures so often that I bet most locals are used to my presence by now, hb00. I wouldn't be surprised if they even refer to me as "the tourist" hehehe.

Thank you very much for the wonderful compliments, hb00! Whoa, Norman Rockwell ... you're very kind :)

I have a few more sets of photo essays I will be posting soon.

June 21, 2007 7:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I wouldn't be so unrealistic and demand that we rid our cities of sidewalk vendors, Bugsy, BUT I only wish that there should be certain parts of downtown in which people can comfortably walk along the sidewalks.

Here in Manila, I see no reason in turning every neighborhood into a Divisoria. No wonder most folks would rather go to the malls these days.

And you're right! These crowded walkways are a trap.

June 21, 2007 7:20 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ean, Bugsybee's URL is:

Go visit it!

June 21, 2007 7:21 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Word of caution, Photowalker:

Avoid at all costs to take pictures of any parts of the area where they sell DVDs. Our fellow photographer had a very frightful encounter with the people of that area after he was seen taking pictures of their stalls. You wouldn't want to attract their ire.

Since I'm used to the area and somewhat in tune with its rhythm, I am comfortable enough to take pictures alone with either my point & shoot or my dSLR.

I would suggest, however, that you bring along a friend so you'd feel safer.

Nonetheless, Quiapo makes a very interesting and vibrant photo subject!

June 21, 2007 7:27 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

i have a canadian friend who doesn't mind the crowded streets/sidewalks of quiapo. he's the first foreigner i've talked to who said that. but then again, it would actually be better if those sidewalks are cleared so that they would be conducive to walking. i really hope that happens.

June 21, 2007 8:15 AM  

Blogger Ean said...

About "uniquely Manila:" SM manila is holding a photography contest. It needs one photo of "SM manila" lifestyle and one "Manila" lifestyle pic. Im not sur about the details though. Deadline is July 17, I think. (I hope its not June 17) Maybe someone could enlighten me further. I'll give the print ad a second look when I get the chance.

Also, petron has its own photo contest. Ammatuers only, I think. Get your forms here:

June 21, 2007 9:47 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I do see one or two foreigners comfortably walking around Quiapo and Sta Cruz areas and taking pictures, Carla. And I never see anyone bothering them, either. It would be even more wonderful if we see as many foreign tourists here as they have them in Bangkok.

But in order to attract them to walk the streets of Manila, we do have to provide safer and cleaner sidewalks for everyone.

June 21, 2007 11:08 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Elan,

Please post all details in your site regarding these photo contests and I will invite our other fellow photobloggers to visit it for details.

Many thanks for sharing!

June 21, 2007 11:10 AM  

Blogger palma tayona said...

i will nitpick this time on the photos.

i see three photos that are actually interesting character studies of people along the sidewalk. the second, third and fourth from the top - the man staring at the hanging what-have-nots, the little girl with the plpastic bag and boots and the man shouting in front of ma mon luk. if cropped a bit tighter and concentrating on the main frigures, methinks they'd have more visual impact and would be as such - powerful character studies.

am nitpicking - visually. :-)

June 21, 2007 12:24 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Interesting observations, Daniel. I will crop another set as you've suggested, but this time will share with my other online photo forums.


June 21, 2007 12:34 PM  

Blogger pusa said...

hi señor, iba talaga dating ng picspag black and white, gleng gleng!

i totally agree that the place will be a whole lot better if there are no sidewalk vendors... but nonetheless you can never say you've been to manila, or experience manila life if you've never been to quiapo.

and dont be afraid to take photos, i have never been afraid taking out my P&S camera in these places because i guess they are used to getting photographed and besides Filipinos love kodakan moments :)

though i havent tried taking pictures of those DVD sellers, i know the boundaries

June 21, 2007 2:15 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Very well put, Pusa.

Yes, these folks are quite used to tourists and plain folks with cameras so they don't really mind being photographed :)


June 21, 2007 2:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could remember how cramp with people it can get on peak hours, like people waiting for jeepney rides when late afternoon comes.

Maybe the Manila city hall could make some sort of a deal with these vendors, finding other venues where they can sell their wares legally...

Kaya lang mas gusto nila doon kasi maraming passersby...

June 21, 2007 2:37 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You're, right, Major Tom. The high traffic areas are much preferred by the vendors to set up shop.

And even if they got moved to an area of their own, another new breed of vendors will suddenly sprout to occupy the sidewalks :(

Exasperating, especially when they have devious officials who profit from their acts.

June 21, 2007 2:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does each vendor pay a fee for the tiny space they occupy?
It was quite dense then when I was passing thru March 1970. Nice pics of that sidewalk where some tiles were missing, from attrition maybe?, hehe...
Btw, I finally got a glimpsed of your post re no more/no butts. Very happy for you that you quit.
I quit cold turkey October 22, 1971! Goodhealth always...

June 21, 2007 4:03 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Congratulations, TruBlue!

I was actually resigned to the idea that I will be smoking cigarettes fro the rest of my life. And then one day ... no more!

Yes, these vendors pay to certain bigwigs of the area.

June 21, 2007 4:07 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could almost see myself teleported back into Quiapo because of all your photos. It brought back sweet memories that I had of that place. Thank you for reliving it!


June 21, 2007 6:35 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You're welcome, Kyels! Glad these pictures had brought back fond memories of our city :)

June 21, 2007 6:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember too, I used to have my photos printed sa Hidalgo.

Back in my college years I was a photographer for UST's school paper, we had many visits in Quipo coz that was during Erap's administration.

The authorities being 'backers' for these vendors could be true. When I was an internist for the Phil. Daily Inquirer and was assigned at the National Bureau of Investigation, there were so many fixers na pakalat kalat mingling with the applicants for NBI Clearance...I saw one woman giving a thousand, not surprisingly, an NBI agent, yeap middle of the day! The agent was wearing barong pa ha! tsk tsk!

OT: How do I get a username for his page? lol

June 21, 2007 8:51 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hello Anonymous,

That isn't actually too long ago that you were a student at UST and frequented Hidalgo Street.

I bet you're still into photography, if not a pro by now. Why don't you create a blog site also to post your pics and join our online community.

Go to and open an account now :)

Welcome and please share with us your input about things Manila and all, ok?


June 21, 2007 8:59 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Quiapo will not be the same without all the sidewalk vendors. but i agree that it tis at a point where it is almost suffocating to be caught in the mass of vendors and goodies cramping the sidewalks.
Why not apply the same cooperative concept the vendors in Bangkok have. An organized tiangge style set up maybe? I'm sure the autorities will oppose such an idea because they will lose their illegal income from these vendors to whoever will take control over the turf. Very good photo essay of Quiapo! (check out some of my old B/W photos at my Flickr photos)

June 21, 2007 10:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

But they do have tiangge sections, Pete. In fact, the entire stretch of Avenida Rizal was transformed as one during the past holiday season. I think it's the lucrative turf fees that is at the very root of the problem here. Until Mayor Lim is able to address that effectively, this entire sidewalk congestion will only get worse.

Bravo! I love your black and white series. My favorite is Baptismal Fountain 2 -- evocative and inspiring. If ok with you, I'd like to share the URL with our fellow bloggers:

So, how's Chuck now? Still in Nigeria?

As for Santa Barbara, Joseph Campbell's Library is at the college in that town, which I hope someday I will get to visit. Campbell was an inspiration to many Hollywood screenwriters. George Lucas credits him as being the inspiration behind Star Wars.

June 22, 2007 6:42 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

I thought I posted here already, anyhoot, I'm gonna miss this crowd in Manila if anyone will remove them, they are part of day to day Manila's life. Sanay na ako sa mas masikip na lugar in Divisoria, plying the Ilaya or Juan Luna sts. I can manuever with those zig-zag moves and be there in Ongpin in a few minutes.(hingal!)
If mayor Lim can do something on these sidewalk vendors and ease up the congestions on the streets and sidewalks(less those kotongs) that would be the best thing that he can offer to all Manilans and visitors. I know, to solve that problem is a very huge task.
1. Where would they go?
2. How will they get a better job?
3. ...

gezzz.. marami pa lang problema.
One brick at a time na lang....pang pukpok sa ulo. :D

June 22, 2007 12:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

This issue with the sidewalk vendors can be challenging, BUT I bet we have enough urban planners who may be able provide assistance; that is, should the city's mayor does intend to create comfortable walkways for the city's populace, Reyd.

June 22, 2007 9:18 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Thanks Eric! Unfortunately Chuck never went back to the states.

I like Santa Barbara. I lived there for 3 years and still go there quite often. It's one of my favorite weekend getaways, about 80 miles north of where I live. The backroads from our place to Santa Barbara is one of the best MC route with a lot of scenic areas, going through small quaint towns, the citrus and avocado orchards of Ojai and Ventura and the mountain roads.

Those B/W photos are 25 years old, found them in my stash in the garage!

June 22, 2007 10:43 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Goes to prove, Pete, that well-taken photographs are destined to be classic.

Yes, I've heard of how beautiful Santa Barabara is. A motorcycle or a a car with convertible top would be the ideal modes of transport to really enjoy what was once also known as Reagan Country.

June 23, 2007 6:18 AM  

Blogger Stefan Gert Heitmann Wilkendorf said...

I`m gonna share whit u some unveliebable pictures of a market place in mi city

te unvelieable think is that i`m in suth amerika in chile specificly

who sais only comercial mall s are an internationall globalizator

i will post the photos sun cause i dont have them yet
but what it seems to be a traditional market is not traditional at all

schone grusse

December 20, 2007 9:49 AM  

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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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