I know its been weeks, but let me tell you the story of how I spent my day in Quiapo during the Nazareno Feast.
Having planned ahead, I spent the night at the office, made sure I had a satisfied tummy, and went off to the LRT2 Cubao station to drop myself off at Recto. I was a bit restless though, as I’ve left most of my conveniences at the office: I was all analog. No DSLR, no cellphone, didn’t even bring my watch.
A small number of the RFilipinas group showed interest in going to the event, so I spent the early morning, around 9AM, on the lookout for any of them, while I took snapshots of every interesting scene I could find. This was indeed one of the major photo-op’s of the year where you didn’t have to travel very far.
Jay Javier showed up, and we proceeded with the shoot. He mentioned that he suspects I’m only looking for two things: the deboto’s, and the photographer’s. I shouldn’t expect pretty girls to show up anytime here, right? Then it was my turn, by pointing at the young photographers with DSLR’s and long, bazooka lenses: I called them “kids”, and I think Jay found that funny.
Then there was this tall foreigner white guy who I think snapped a photo of me. Like, hmm chubby brow-ring’d bald dude using an obvious Leica copy from Russia amongst all these high-tech photographers? Hmmm *snap*
The rest of the group trickled in: Uro, Garrie, Bam, and Luis. The collective got hungry during our shoot, and we decided to try the Halal chicken across the road, which was a meal I’ve been wanting to try for weeks before that. We didn’t have Luis, who noted that he was positioned already, and tied himself with nylon rope to a post. Bam then noted that Luis was munching on a carrot for sustenance that day: I still can’t believe I keep such cool company.
We went back about half an hour before the Nazareno was to be taken out of the church. Garrie had a panic attack around Crisologo, but we didn’t really plan to be among the hundreds of people who wanted to get near the Nazareno. The destination was Hidalgo, where you could actually move around. After our little bee line got through the chaos, we settled around one of the camera shops and had free water; free food was offered as well, and it turned out this even did feel like a typical fiesta wherein everyone chips in to celebrate.
A good half hour later, we heard isolated screams, and we had the notion that yep, bodies are now about to be rushed to safer places in the area, and Hidalgo had to be part of that route to safety. We were right, and the shop owners commented that this was probably one of the roughest they’ve seen in years.
The masses went thin around the plaza about an hour after, and we went on to find some grub again. Found ourselves in Chinatown, to a now-abandoned restaurant that Uro wasn’t aware it was in that state already. We trekked to find another one, so we could finally cap off the day. Around this time, newcomers Diana and Manman have settles with the group already. Oh, and the sugar cane juice at the small Fuji shop in Binondo? Beyond refreshing.
The group then started dispersing while some of us LRT2 bound walked through Avenida, which is now teeming with jeepneys, from its short and lost glory as a ManileÃ±o hangout. Oh, and I was suprised to find copies of those liquor calendars with scantily-clad women abundant here, when you’d usually envy the sari-sari stores displaying them. Not that I was looking for that sorta thing, really.