Wednesday, August 15, 2007


An alley too narrow for even a one way vehicular traffic -- between Claro M. Recto Avenue and Bilibid Viejo Street -- boasts affordable eateries that offer various local dishes from the ever popular adobo to grilled pork liempo.

There are typical budget meals that range in price from 20 pesos for a plate of rice and vegetables up to forty pesos for those combination plates with both grilled meat and vegetables; a small cup of broth often comes free of charge. But there are eateries that offer even lower-priced budget meals which includes a free glass of iced tea with every order. Moreover, mobile food vendors -- from sorbetes to fish balls -- also ply this alley to add even more variety to the already dizzying selections of available foodstuffs.

Students, workers, and some residents of the neighborhood patronize these eateries
from the early morning hours to past midnight. Besides the affordable prices, what makes this food alley even more appealing is the consistent efforts of establishment owners to keep this entire strip clean and safe for their patrons. And of course, there are videoke machines available for those students who wish to while away their free time between classes by singing a tune or two.


posted by Señor Enrique at 7:26 AM


Blogger Photo Cache said...

first of all, i love your university belt entries. second of all, if i remember correctly there is just one alley that connects bilibid viejo and cm recto and that is san sebastian street (i may be wrong), but i used to live there. these photos seem foreign to me and at the same time very familiar, esp photo # 2 and 3. could you confirm the street name for me senor? thanks.

August 15, 2007 8:30 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

From what I was told, this is Matapang Street; in the southwest corner of which on Recto is the newly-refurbished Ever Gotesco Mall, which faces Morayto (now Nicanor Reyes Street).

The next street from Matapang heading east of Recto would be Lepanto (now S.H. Loyola) where University of the East is located.

Many thanks, Photo Cache :)

August 15, 2007 8:46 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the top photo and also the fifth one. :)

My son's daily allowance includes his lunch money. Pero wise siya, e. He sometimes comes home for lunch, para malibre. But I am wiser. I later learned to charge him for it. :)

August 15, 2007 8:53 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hmmm ... survival of the wisest household, eh? ... hehehe.

Can't blame your son for trying to stretch his allowance, Rhoda. With so many nifty electronic gadgets out there, any young person would be tempted to save up to get one of them, at the very least.

Many thanks!

August 15, 2007 9:22 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

very interesting place to eat. it's good that the owners do their best to keep the place clean, otherwise no one would go there.

August 15, 2007 9:28 AM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

ah ok, now I remember...Ater Lepanto heading east would be San Sebastian Street. Thanks.

August 15, 2007 9:57 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It is really an interesting alley, Carla, and quite popular to the local students. A cheaper alternative to the nearby Ever Gotesco Mall food court.

August 15, 2007 10:19 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

San Sebastian Street is close to the church itself and is quite a lovely and charming street lined with well-maintained old houses, Photo Cache!

August 15, 2007 10:21 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Eric, In your exchange with Photo Cache, I tried to visualize the place in my mind. So Marayta and Lepanto have new names, but Bilibid Viejo has been retained.

I wonder why. Viejo means old so does it have any connection with the old Old Bilibid Prisons?

The pictures also show that pedestrian lanes have been constructed over by the carenderias, all the way to the edge of the painted curb. So vehicular traffic was allowed at one time or other?

But I am impressed with the overall cleanliness of the place, including shiny pots.

August 15, 2007 10:45 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some things never really change :-)
I used to dine in this similar environment eateries in Angeles City and your photos has put me back to yester-years :D

August 15, 2007 11:46 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting alley to visit and the prices are reasonable. I would not be surprised if lots of students flock the alley.


August 15, 2007 1:09 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

naku eric, this made me reminisce my early college years. on a tight budget, kaya sa pares-pares karenderia ni aleng bebang ang punta ko. hehehe! those were some fond memories, pinagkakasya ang allowance for food, fare and watching a movie =)

August 15, 2007 1:56 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Amadeo, the names of those streets have changed, but I can't seem to pinpoint a prison anywhere near this neighborhood. The only old prison that I know of in the city is over at Quezon Boulevard near Central Market - the Manila City Jail.

Even without the awnings and structures that lined up this alley, it is still too narrow even for a small car to negotiate. I would say that only motorcycles and tricycles and anything else of that sort are the only vehicles that could pass through this alley.

I am also impressed at how well-maintained this area is.

August 15, 2007 2:21 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I would say, Jervis, that a great percentage of our students can only afford these kind of meals. Lucky are those who can go to Chow King or Jolibee all the time.

August 15, 2007 2:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Right you are, Kyels, this alley gets quite crowded at certain times of the day and evening during school days.

August 15, 2007 2:27 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's just part of student life, Nell -- to stretch one's allowance in order to be able to afford some "caprichios."

August 15, 2007 2:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thing they keep their place clean, with all the dirty establishments we often see on "Imbestigador" and other investigative news programs. Brings back memories of high school and college years when I had a small allowance and would eat in one of these establishments. Thanks eric!

August 15, 2007 6:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

budget meal! just updated my site. :)

August 15, 2007 6:21 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Ladybug!

I can only attest that they keep the place clean, but the way foods are prepared ... that's another matter altogether which I didn't look into ... hehehe.

Throughout high school I was given only one peso a day as allowance, but that would probably be about a hundred nowadays.

In college, it was mostly pizza which was dirt cheap then and very filling :)

August 15, 2007 7:10 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Nice job, Jeff! Love its new design -- very fresh. Like mine, you also keep it ad free to date :)

Those labs are gorgeous!

August 15, 2007 7:12 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I know those streets. Quite an interesting neighborhood. It is on a long list of things that might give birth to a photo series.

You find me with a headache today... It took me 6 hours to go from Intramuros to Pres Quirino Ave. :-((((

Glad to see you have electricity !

August 15, 2007 8:52 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And on San Sebastian Street was where they had that book signing in which the ex-mayor Atienza attended and the kindly Belgian ambassador arranged for us to enjoy a free sumptuous dinner afterwards, Sidney ... hehehe.

I am so glad I didn't venture too far from my neighborhood today; otherwise, I would have found myself in some heavy traffic situation somewhere on one of Manila's flooded streets.

August 15, 2007 9:21 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

For some of us who spent their high school years at UE or UM, right behind these 2 universiies was a narrow street with rows of old houses similar to that green karinderia on your photos. That was where we used to spend our lunch money for combinations of rice, pork chop and sabaw for Php 1.25! Looking at the budget prices of the mini karinderias of today and comparing it to(many,many)years ago when we used to frequent those places in the alleys behind the big universities,albeit the hassle from the local gangs, the prices are still pretty decent for student budgets. Piniritong talong with egg and rice and sabaw ng buto was only Php1.00 then. We used to beg the karinderia owners or flirt with the females tending the store for more rice and to add more green veggies to supplement the pale anemic looking gulay floating around with an unidentified part of a slaughtered animal on the bowl of free bone marrow sabaw, and with patis?...ayos ang buto-buto ika nga nila nuon.

August 15, 2007 11:11 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I was really astonished to have discovered so many eateries in and around university belt, Pete. And what's even more interesting is that some families find it more economical to buy ulam from these places than cook since they can do with little amount of ulam as long as the rice is plentiful.

Incidentally, from what I understand the Jolibee organization has recently launched Don Pepe. It is a carinderia-type eatery in which the average price of its budget meals is about 40 pesos. I haven't seen nor been to one, yet. I don't think it'll be an air-conditioned place, though.

August 16, 2007 6:37 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jollibee launching a carinderia-type eatery? Naku, Eric, kawawa naman ang mga small eateries. Their business will get affected, much like what happens when SM puts up a branch elsewhere in the country. Namamatay ang mga maliliit na stores. :(

August 16, 2007 7:37 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! My eyes got anchored onto these U-Belt pics...reminded me of my days in FEU. Pictures are vivid and full of stories. Anong digicam gamit mo?

Hehehe, just asking...

August 16, 2007 8:11 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I used my Canon point & shoot for this photo essay, as well as on Greenbelt and Cubao.

I also use a Nikon D80, but on daytime or those natural light shoots, it's sometimes hard to differentiate which ones were taken by which camera. The difference becomes apparent with indoor or night time shots, in which the point & shoot digicam somehow reveals its shortcomings.

August 16, 2007 8:59 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Tha can possibly happen, Rhoda; however, I asked an eatery operator on Bilibid Viejo how can she make money when so many other similar establishments are next to one another on both sides of her block. She claims that it isn't as lucrative as when there was only a couple of other eateries. Nonetheless, she still makes enough money to make it all worthwhile.

As for Jolibee's Don Pepe, perhaps, it would urge the regular operators to begin adopting more sanitary practices with their food preparations.

August 16, 2007 9:27 AM  

Blogger Yam Manuel said...

This reminds me of College.

Wow! Heto ang mga bumubuhay sa akin, hehe..

August 16, 2007 1:20 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Ah, the really cheap food! It still helps to have been vaccinated from Hepatitis, just in case.

The gaya-gaya mentality (replicate the thriving business in the neighborhood) really eats up the profit of every establishment in that area. But I guess a new carinderia will sprout as long as the demand is growing. Hey, even Jollibee is doing the gaya-gaya strategy!

August 17, 2007 12:29 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Indeed, Yam ... this is reminiscent of college days when budgets were tight and the foods cheap.

August 17, 2007 6:59 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

True, Dave ... mostly acquired from those open bottles of sauce in which throngs of customers dip their sticks of street foods into them repeatedly, while taking bites in between.

I was just talking with one who was hospitalized when diagnosed with hepa; he used to love those "isaw," he claimed.

And yes, as long as the market will bear it, the supply of such establishments will increase.

August 17, 2007 7:10 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

Eric, those places reminded me of some eateries along Morayta and some corner nooks behind UST.
My high school days was kind of fun, we were told not to eat street foods outside our school but did so anyways and most of the time lunch was spent along Shaw blvd. where Cindy’s restaurant originated and there was Goldilocks too in the 60s..
But college days and after was the best part, I got to eat on some of those eateries and even along Divisoria were Aling Simang’s is famous for her meals of laman loob or “halo” as they called it. 3M pizza in front of UST was our hangout after school also. But going to Morayta to try some sandwich with menudo or a monay with pansit bihon was really a thrill. Not all of my classmates would dare do so, most likely they are afraid of catching some illness like hepatitis.
Now, it seems like majority of students there are in the mall to try some franchised fast foods. The food court in SM are full during school days. (Katas ng OFW parents?) :D
But hail to those eateries that offer a cheap meal for students who have a tight budget.

August 20, 2007 3:36 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm not a fan of these lower-priced eateries, Reyd, only because the foods they serve tend to be too salty for my bland taste. But if you're used to it, these eateries can be affordable alternatives to those franchised eateries at SM food courts.

Interestingly, anywhere in which there's a populous neighborhood, there surely would be affordable eateries such as these :)

August 20, 2007 5:50 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Burger ni manang w/ free additional coleslaw, buko juice sa gilid ng beda...or carinderia sa likod ng beda (1st to 5th st.) - our usual lunch during college...Balut ni manong boy (not sure about the name..) in the afternoon before going home...ahhh...miss those days at san beda (mendiola)...thank you sir...nice shots...

August 29, 2007 9:05 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks din, Dubaiboy! Glad these pictures remind you of the fun times you had while attending San Beda :)

August 30, 2007 8:22 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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