“Is it safe to go to Quiapo, alone?”
I get this often. If there’s a cabinet for all the places I love in Manila, Quiapo will sit side by side Divisoria on the topmost shelf. I mean, why not? the place offers an abundant experience you couldn’t get anywhere else.
Here, you get to see a wet market, clothing stores, snack shops, and camera repair shops all piled up in just one street –Hidalgo, in all its dirt and glory.
On the other side, there’s all these household items that range from the TV sets, handheld radios, turntables, down to even the smallest rubber at the bottom of a cane. Raon street seems to have the oldest, quirkiest, and cheapest (beware of fake and stolen) items for sale. No wonder people flock the place.
Back in college, me and my friends would do some ukay-ukay shopping, food trip, el cheapo camera hunting, or lit some colored candles in front of the church while we’re there. The possibilities are just endless.
Every nook and cranny in Quiapo exudes a certain charm and at the same time fear. While it is a good photography spot for having so many details –be it religion, economics, or history — it also has a bad reputation for pickpockets, snatchers, and hold uppers.
So, is it okay to conduct a photo walk in Quiapo, alone?
Why, yes, of course!
Shooting alone may sound scary but hear me on this: you will be less conspicuous and besides, mobility is key in photography.
Here’s some tips to get you started:
- Blend in. Wear casual, comfortable clothes and don’t wear jewelries. You don’t want to draw too much attention so you have to look like you just woke up, haha, you get the point.
- Don’t bring too much cash.
- Bring a small bag, body bag or belt bag. You must keep your belongings close to your body as possible. Better yet, bring no bag at all.
- Familiarize yourself with your surrounding. Get comfortable with the place and let the people around you be comfortable with you.
- Smile, do small talk. Works like magic every time.
- Shoot quick. Don’t let the subject wait. If you’re using manual camera, adjust the settings prior to shooting.
- Always stay alert.
I arrived in Quiapo in less than 45 minutes. No traffic coming from Quirino Highway or Blumentritt just before noon. Ah. Holiday bliss. Aside from the Globe lumpia house, I got to roam around Quiapo for about two hours or more. At noontime, yes. It’s not exactly an ideal time for shooting but it’s definitely a good time for eating. hahaha! I really came for the food, photos only come in at second. 😀
Do you have any tips to add? Share them in the comments! 🙂
TRIVIA: Most local TV series or films involving street children and other underground activities are shot in Quiapo. One example is last year’s Cinema One Originals entry: Bendor starring Vivian Velez.