Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quiapo-Let's take a journey

Quiapo, home to the famous Catholic Church of Nazarene, is also the center of the Muslim Community in Manila. These two religions have lived side-by-side for years, with the Church of Nazerene and Golden Mosque lying on opposite sides of the Quezon Bridge. Good cohesion has existed here, and many visitors, regardless of religion frequent the streets of Quiapo everyday.

Back in the heyday, Quiapo was known as "Old Downtown" and once was a center for trade and commerce. Nowadays, however it is known for cheap electronics, pirated DVDs, fresh flowers, and vegetables, bicycle parts and native handicrafts for balikbayans.

So what images are conjured to mind when one thinks of the Muslim Town of Quiapo? Unfortunately, living up to the stereotypes are the numerous stalls selling pirated DVDs, and South Sea pearls, but look beyond this and you can have a real cultural and culinary adventure.

Lets take a walk around.....

Come on in!

On the doorstep, you are greeted by a newly erected arch proclaiming "Ahlan Wasahlan" meaning "Welcome" in the Arabic language.
As you enter, you can already start to see interesting art.

Spanish style floor tiles

Islamic Inspired Mosaic Tiles

The Golden Mosque is a few steps walk from the Arch (on Globo de Oro St.). Most of the Muslim neighborhood seems to be centered around the Mosque, where worshipers are invited to pray from 4am until midnight.

During the holy month of Ramadan, most of the Muslim Town comes to a standstill with most restaurants opening an hour or so short of iftar (sunset), in order to begin the festivities for the observant.

Dotted around the Mosque you will find numerous eateries, side-by-side with stalls selling Muslim fashion such as Abaya for women and headscarves, Islamic CDs, DVDs, prayer beads and other religious effects.

There are a plethora of halal restaurants to choose from. Most of the eateries/restaurants are carinderia style, some that we would walk straight past and some that tempt you with their colorful displays, and aromas bringing you tastes of Moro, Maranao and Pinoy cuisine.
(The famous Moud's Halal Roasted Chicken is in Quiapo!)

In most of these eateries, the style of service is turo-turo or point. where the food is already prepared and displayed in silver trays or chafing dishes. You just point at what takes your fancy and its served up for you. One can expect to pay anything from P30-P70 for a decent meal.

Spoiled for choice?

There are also a number of stores selling halal produce, rice, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Quiapo can be a taxing to get around with the constant hustle and bustle from the crowd, but its worth taking a look around, especially if you're in the mood for some delicious halal cuisine that's easy on the wallet.

Just another day in Quiapo.
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