Monday, December 04, 2006

R. Hidalgo St., with arms wide open

Several months ago I read an article about the local government's plan (based on John Chua's initiative) to rehabilitate what was once widely popular as Quiapo's camera street. For the clueless, R. Hidalgo in years past was as synonymous to cameras as Raon was to electronics. (Still clueless? Never mind, just take my word for it.) Nowadays photographers who know of Hidalgo can be classified into 2 categories: (1) the uh *cough* most experienced, i.e., the mature ones *cough* and (2) the more persistent and dedicated hobbyists and professionals. Some photographers have never even set foot on Hidalgo, opting to get their gear elsewhere. (A common misperception is that cameras sold there don't carry warranties.)

I went there last Saturday to buy replacement batteries for my camera (I have killed my original batteries after 2 years of use, pretty good I guess), and I was surprised to find that I could actually see through to the end of the street. Ah, so that's what it looks like. Ehehe.

Whereas before, navigating your way through involved skillful slinking and maneuvering between crates, kaings, bilaos, banigs, boxboard sheets, make-shift stalls, and carts filled with all manner of items for sale -- say fruits, vegetables, garments, underwear, toys, plasticware, custom jewelry, fashion accessories, crafts components and other knick knacks -- in addition to the continuous surrounding human traffic moving at varying rates, from leisurely to quick-paced to so annoyingly hurried that you'd get pushed and pulled from and to every direction, now you can actually walk in the middle of the calle with both arms stretched! No more intimate, sweaty hobnobbing with every Kulas and Kulasa you pass by. In place of all that clutter now are streetlamps and benches. And oh, the ground is paved with brick tiles. All still quite ugly, but hey, there's air!

So now, if you're in R. Hidalgo and a pungent smell assaults your nose (meaning it's somewhere close), but you're standing in the middle of the street with so much space about you, chances are, it's probably you.

For directions to R. Hidalgo St., Quiapo, go here.

Disclaimer: I'm not actually suggesting that you go there stand with arms stretched out, particularly if you have something expensive-looking slung over your shoulder. That sort of thing might well be an invitation to get robbed.

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