Street Vending is still a way of life in the Philippines especially in the older parts of the city of Manila, In 2002-2010, a drive was spearheaded by the Metro Manila Development Authority under the leadership of Bayani Fernando to clear the roads from street vendors to open little used roadways to vehicular traffic. The initiative was largely successful albeit difficult for that agency then. During the presidency of Noy-noy Aquino however, the same MMDA, the agency tasked to make and keep the metro beautiful, orderly and running smoothly largely failed. Hence, the return of vendors in the streets.
Street vending is a source of income and livelihood for many. Despite the challenges they pose, transient buyers still patronize them for their convenience, best selling wares and foodstuffs and relatively low prices.
I walked the street near the Quaipo church to do some window shopping ; ) but mainly to document the activity using my Fujifilm X-T10 with an XF 35mm f/1.4 lens attached. Most of the images were shot with an aperture of 1.4 at around ISO 640 between 1/20th to about 1/100th of a second.
The Fujinon XF 35mm F/1.4 R is a fixed-focal length large aperture (prime) lens that produces smooth Bokeh (out of focus backgrounds), very sharp and saturated images. AF is a bit behind with newer Fujinon lenses in terms of manners but is nonetheless reliable. When using a bigger AF point (known as group AF on some DSLR's), focusing is fast and accurate despite the rather rough and somewhat noisy AF motor. The build quality (all metal) appears reassuring and looks great with the metal rangefinder squared edged hood reminicent of Leica lens hoods. It's a perfect match for classic styled cameras like the X-T10 and Fuji's rangefinder-styled bodies. All the rings (aperture and manual focus) are properly dampened to the touch and feel premium. Size is compact and weight balances well with the X-T10.
Here's my report:
(Best viewed on a Tablet or PC. When viewing on an iPhone, keep phone vertical/ upright while you tap on the photos)
In the past, Quiapo was the premiere shopping district back in 50's-60's. Today, even if the area is trumped by gleaming malls and fashionable shopping districts, Quaipo is still a sprawling shopping haven where you perhaps get the best bargains for everything from electronics to flip-flops.
If you can look beyond the street stalls and vendors that crowd the streets particularly during the Christmas holidays, there is actually order to the madness. Just like modern shopping districts and malls the actual stores (not makeshift stalls and vendors) are organized by product category. You have a street that caters to the restaurant and food industry: Orosco St. Hidalgo St. is where you find almost every photography and videography equipment and accessory you can imagine. For Eyeglasses and optical supply, head to Paterno St. Interestingly, top brands like Cartier are available too and are kept in special retail areas/ rooms of the shops. There are also streets for audio, dental supply, tarps, furniture, industrial equipment among many others I have yet to see. Be warned that even if the stores offer authentic wares they are usually gray market goods (no warranty or only store warranties are offered).
No shopping destination is complete without good food. If you're not in the mood to shop, this a place where you can kiss your diet goodbye. Some of the tastiest traditional Chinese cuisine are alive and well here. For instance, Donbei is a hole In the wall restaurant that serves steaming-hot mouth-watering dumplings.
The area in front of Quiapo church is also renowned for its fortune tellers. Fortune tellers are known to start by mentioning unspoken specifics about your past to establish their credibility (and they suprisingly do) before they even start with the good (and bad) stuff coming your way. Count me out.
I still visit the place maybe twice a year for hard to find photography stuff so expect the gallery to be updated over time.
Here are scenes around the area of Plaza Miranda in front of Quaipo Church last December.
The blog is about the Philippines... the less photographed side of it. My hope is that as I develop the series, the story I tell about trivial life in the country resonates with its readers.