Quiapo

Continuing east, crossing Rizal Avenue and turning towards Quezon Boulevard, at the end of Quezon Bridge; at the beginning of the boulevard, in Plaza Miranda is Quiapo Church, with the much venerated Black Nazarene, a statue of Christ bearing the cross which was brought from Mexico in the 17th century. On 9 January the ceremonies reach a high degree of fervour.

The first church on this site, a wooden structure, was built in 1586. After its destruction by fire in 1639 it was replaced by a stone church, which in turn was destroyed by an earthquake in 1863. A third church which was consecrated in 1899 was burned down in 1929. The present church, by the Filipino architect Juan Nakpil, was built in 1935. In the surrounding area there are many sellers of candles (who for a small payment will say the necessary prayers on the purchaser’s behalf), amulets (to bring health, success in love, etc.), baluts (incubated ducks eggs which the Filipinos regard as a particular delicacy) and much else besides.

The whole of the Quiapo district is a scene of bustling activity, with many of the streets specialising in particular trades. It is also known as the “old downtown”. Thus the shoe shops are in Carriedo Street, sports articles can be bought in Ronquillo Street, musical instruments, radios and tape recorders are sold, amid a deafening din, in Puyat Street (named after a wealthy Filipino industrialist), and cloth and groceries are to be found in Carlos Palanca Street (after a well-to-do Chinese convert of the early 20th c.). The Quinta Market, on the banks of the Pasig near Quezon Bridge, offers an exotic and colourful spectacle.

Runs north is Rizal Avenue, swarming with people at any time of day. In this street are shops, cinemas, and the Opera House, in which Patti sang and Pavlova danced. Here too was held the first session of the National Assembly (1916) after the grant of self-government by the United States.

Rizal Avenue cuts across Valeriano Fugoso Avenue. Along this street to the right is the Central Market, where the goods on sale include fish and turtles’ eggs, vegetables and meat, Japanese-made gadgets and local woodcarving, batik from Indonesia and jade from China.

Crossing Quezon Boulevard on the pedestrian bridge, along Jorge Barlin Street (named after the first Filipino bishop, 1905), turning right into Padre Noval Street and then left into España Street to reach the entrance to the University of Santo Tomas, with two stone gateways brought from the old University in Intramuros after the war.