A few months back I opened my photo reflector to find, after 18 years of use, the gold reflective material was completely worn off. Time to buy a new one, but where? None of the stores around here sell anything but the basic camera equipment. Much like in the states, stores that sell a full line of equipment are few and far between, and usually located in out of the way places. Stands, lights, reflectors, "barn doors", gel filters, backgrounds....all scare off 95% of camera buyers. The perception is because the store sells that stuff, they can't possibly appreciate the needs of a parent who just wants a compact camera to take pictures of their kids, so the salesperson will try to sell them thousands of dollars worth of complicated gizmos instead.
In Manila, this means an excursion to Quiapo.
All the professional photographic supply stores are located within a couple blocks of each other there.
We bought the reflector, upgraded in the 21st century to a four-in-one unit featuring a zip-off layer enabling gold, silver, black, and white sides to use. So much for my old gold and white sides only model (now just white or white!).
Of course, this being my first trip to Quiapo, I took along a camera. Since it isn't the best part of Manila and extraordinarily crowded, I only took the compact. I would have loved to have brought the SLR, but repeated warnings not to do so prevailed, and it remained safe at home.
Our cab let us out across from Quiapo Church, officially known as Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene is a much venerated statue of Jesus Christ inside the church which many people believe has miraculous attributes. Photography isn't allowed inside the church. Of course no one notified me of this until after I had already taken these!
The black speck at the altar in this shot is the aforementioned statue.
After that very brief stop, we were on our way to find the reflector.
We passed many street vendors selling just about everything.
See? I told you it is crowded. The very narrow street doesn't help a whole lot.
We got the reflector and continued to explore.
I know...it's the second shot of produce. It's not that we were hungry, but the food looked so good.
Statue of former Manila mayor, Arsenio Lacson.
Though it looks foreboding, it didn't rain. Note the new lights. This is just one of dozens of frosted chandeliers that are the new lighting that line the MacArthur Bridge across the Pasig River.
When I see scenes like this (and I see them e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e) I'm reminded of books Edson uses in his study of colonial architecture in the Philippines and the building America did here in the early twentieth century. When the US took over the Philippines from Spain the rivers and canals were found full of garbage. One of the steps taken to rid Manila of disease was cleaning up said garbage.As you can see, it is no longer a priority.
Moving on; here are some nice scenes and detail along Escolta Street:
I had to stop here and snap this picture!As soon as I saw it I was reminded of the time I was in fifth grade and Sr. Marie Stella assigned our class to write a paper on our patron saint. I have a completely pagan name, and in typical eleven-year-old delight believed this got me out of having to write a paper. I was told by Sr. Stella that not only was I going to write a paper, but that my name was James! There are many saints named James. I just picked one out and grumbled about the whole paper-writing ordeal until it was over.
It seems either there has been a St. J added since I was eleven, or someone here is gunning for sainthood, or there's a premature campaign to have me canonized. If Sr. Stella were around to hear me say that, I'm pretty sure I'd be writing about all the other saints named James now!
Then we came upon the gorgeous, art-deco Capitol Theatre!
She has most definitely seen better days, but it appears as if work is going on inside. Let's hope it is to refurbish.
Then we walked towards the China Town:
Talk about wires!
We ended our walk at Binondo Church
where we then caught a taxi for Malate, where Edson and I enjoyed a much-needed spa trip to end the day.