Most people equate Quiapo as the heart of Manila, and that includes me. Although I am not a Manileño, my love affair with Quiapo in the Philippines’ big city dates back long before I started studying my Pre-Med course in one of the oldest institutions, Far Eastern University in 1993, that’s located a stone’s throw away from Quiapo. I have been familiar with Quiapo and the streets of Manila, some of its alleys and main roads since my early childhood years when my parents began bringing me and my siblings to 30 churches every Holy Week. No, I’m not telling you that I grew up religious, but I am implying that I have been keeping an itchy feet to go to Manila every now and then. And if I will narrow down my favorite places there, it surely includes Intramuros, Chinatown and Divisoria, and of course, Quiapo!
In my humble attempt to share with you my fascination with Quiapo, I tried my best to capture its colors on my amateur-photos. Let me know if you think any of these are, ehem *clears throat*, postcard-worthy.
Red for love and offering for family. White for purity. Blue for peace of mind. Green for money. Violet for material wealth. Yellow for good spirit. Pink for love and health. Orange for brightness. Brown for good fortune. Peach for studies. Black for conscience. Rainbow-colored candles (except black), or one of each colors per bundle are sold for PhP 20 and it comes with a prayer written in Tagalog, with instruction to utter your wish 3x. Again, these are Wishing Candles. And apparently, prayers are different from wishes; but aren’t they eye-candy?
Located in front of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, famously known as Quiapo Church is the town square called, Plaza Miranda. Thriving within Plaza Miranda are various peddlers, vendors and stall owners that sell variety of things from religious articles and images, flowers, vegetables and fruits. One of the most interesting groups of people who occupy prominent corners in Plaza Miranda are the Psychics and Fortune Tellers. Even more noteworthy to me are those devotees and faithfuls who, after praying and hearing Holy Masses, go and sit under the huge and colorful umbrellas of these fortune tellers, to listen to their so called prophecies, predictions and warnings, *no pun intended*. At a current rate of PhP 100 per tarot card reading for about 20-30 minutes, clients could hear fortune teller’s readings about their luck, money, love life, work and whatnot.
I think most of them who studied tarot card reading and interpretation would mention possibilities that may or may not happen in the client’s life. I certainly don’t believe in fortune telling. Do you? Whether you believe it or not, truth remains that business is good for those fortune tellers. And did I have my fun share of listening to tarot card reading in Quiapo? Go ahead and guess. Read my mind!
According to Powerfortunes.com, “the word talisman comes from the Arabic word, tilsam which itself comes from the Greek word telos which means to consecrate or to initiate into the mysteries. A talisman is defined as an object that has apparently magical or miraculous effects and that can avert misfortune and bring good fortune when acquired. An amulet, originated from the Latin word, amuletum, is essentially another term for talisman. Amulets are lucky charms that have magical inscriptions and which has been consecrated through incantation.”
When I asked the male vendor of the stall where I took the photo of those pendant-looking amulets, of its use and function and where they source it, I received a candid yet seemingly truthful response. “Ang suppliers po namin ay taga-Batangas at Cavite. Ang gamit po nyan ay naayon at alam ng bumibili” (“Our suppliers come from the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. People who buy those things certainly know how to use them”).
There’s always something to munch at Plaza Miranda. I bought a small pack of roasted and garlicky peanuts for PhP 10.
From Plaza Miranda all the way to Quinta Market, the side streets are loaded with stalls of fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, dried, fresh, cured, marinated. Name it.
My love and fascination for Quiapo Church, Plaza Miranda and all their colors will remain the same, perhaps even after my legs and knees become weak to drag my feet to go to Manila.
Wishing candles. Again. You love the colors, don’t you? I do!