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Discover Quiapo

Updated on May 27, 2014

Old Downtown Manila

Quiapo is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Manila, Philippines. If you are street-smart, and not afraid to (literally) rub elbows with lots of people and enjoy a truly Filipino shopping experience, it is the place to go to.

It is the old downtown Manila, near Intramuros (the old colonial Manila). It is not as overwhelmingly large and crowded like the more popular bargain center Divisoria and thus offers many micro-attractions within a very small area. Go bargain hunting at the souvenir shops under Quezon Bridge, haggle at the ingredients stores in Orosco, the ham, dried fish and Chinese bakeries along Palanca, the camera shops in Hidalgo. Visit the vegetable and flower shops at the other end of Hidalgo.

Attend mass at the historic Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene church, explore Plaza Miranda, and the accessories shops in Villalobos. Discover Quiapo!

All photos in this lens are original photos by author

Philippine Souvenirs and Handicrafts "under the bridge"
Philippine Souvenirs and Handicrafts "under the bridge"

Under Quezon Bridge

Native Souvenirs and Handicrafts under the Bridge

Quiapo is across the Pasig River from Plaza Lawton and Intramuros via Quezon Bridge. Under Quezon Bridge is the original native souvenirs and handicrafts center of Manila, featuring all sorts of locally made items.

The handicrafts feature the best from the various regions of the Philippines including the hardwood carvings from the Ifugao communities up north, cloth weavings from Ilocos region, shell craft from Visayas and Mindanao and Christmas lanterns from Pampanga. The stores have creatively crafted household appliances and decorations made from native materials like bamboo, abaca, coconut leaves and rattan

Killion and the Spices Store along Orosco St. at the periphery of Quinta Market
Killion and the Spices Store along Orosco St. at the periphery of Quinta Market

Quinta Market

Wet Market, Cooking and Baking Supplies

Quinta Market is one of the oldest wet and dry market in Metro Manila. Inside Quinta market are some of the most frequented sources of cooking and baking ingredients, the secret supplier for vendors of high quality food products: Killion Merchandising and the Spices Store ( formerly the Nuts Store ) sell just about every ingredient you could imagine, at very affordable "wholesale" prices. From walnuts to almonds to inexpensive Sultana raisins to high grade US raisins to spices and milk tea powder. Even Australian, and US Prime Angus beef! Name it, they have it!

Palanca Street

Excelente Cooked Hams, bakeries, dried fish and fruit shops

Walk along Palanca St, one of Manila's busiest streets, where cars, jeeps, buses and trucks crawl in a narrow road teeming with pedestrians, playing street-children, pedicabs and horse-drawn carriages.

Start in Quiapo Ilalim with souvenir and handicraft stores on both sides of the road, and walk towards Sta. Cruz, Note Quinta Market on the left, possibly the oldest wet market in Manila (but don't quote me), with a strong fish and fresh meat smell. Pass by Villalobos street on the right, and Excelente Cooked Hams on the right. Excelente is perhaps one of the most popular sources of delicious cooked Chinese hams (whole legs, with and without bones, sliced, shredded, scraps, etc).

Discover the numerous Chinese bakeries, dried fish and fruit shops. During the Christmas season, I normally buy chestnuts and peeled jackfruit from Eduardo, my preferred vendor for more than 20-years, who always claims his chestnuts are better each year. His street stall in directly in front of Excelente. I always find the Chinese pastries in Chong Tin irresistible, with countless variations of fillings for Chinese bean cakes, peanut cake, native snacks and delicacies.

One can get overwhelmed with the sheer variety of preserved (dried, salted, smoked, chopped, split) fish sold streetside (milkfish, squid, anchovies, swordfish, catfish, mudfish, etc) . My personal favorite is smoked boneless milkfish.

You can find Feati (Far East Air Transport Incorporated) University's 5-hectare campus on the left. FEATI started as an airline but the name was kept and used when the Salvador Araneta company founded Feati Institute of Technology in 1946.

Further on you can find the original SM department store, now an all-year clearance-sale department store (and where you find the only clean, but extremely crowded, toilets in the area). Finally you reach Isettan Department store, along Avenida Rizal in Sta Cruz.

Photographer's Haven at Hidalgo
Photographer's Haven at Hidalgo

Hidalgo

Photographer's Haven, Vegetable, Fruit, Flower shops, and Heritage Street

Hidalgo Street quickly morphs from a Photographers Haven near SM Department Store, to flower and vegetable shops near Plaza Miranda and to Heritage Street across Quezon Avenue.

The Photographers Haven is a collection of small specialty shops catering to professional and amateur/hobbyist photographers. These stores, almost hidden from view by fruit stalls on the street, carry diverse inventories of specialty cameras, parts, accessories and supplies. Shop owners and employees are walking encyclopedias of photography topics.

As you walk towards Plaza Miranda, you encounter more vegetable and fruit street stalls, but the Plaza Miranda edge itself turns into a sea of fresh flowers for sale for various purposes.

Plaza Miranda itself and the Basilica Minore of the Black Nazarene ( better known as Quiapo Church ) are technically along Hidalgo Street corner Quezon Ave.

Cross Quezon Ave and you discover the Heritage Street, regarded as the most beautiful street during the Spanish times and early 1900s with prominent old homes representing the finest Filipino-Spanish colonial houses. Hidalgo also has the main campus of the Manuel L. Quezon University.

At the end of Hidalgo, fronting Bilivid Viejo and Legarda St, is the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian ( more popularly known as San Sebastian Church ), perhaps the only prefabricated steel church in the world.

Research by popular historian Ambeth Ocampo hint that Gustave Eiffel was involved in the design and construction of San Sebastian Church. Eiffel is better known as the French engineer behind the Eiffel Tower and the steel structure within the Statue of Liberty.

A quick tour - Sights, sounds and smell of Quiapo

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The souvenirs and handicrafts stores under the Quezon bridge are very popular attractions, next only to the ChurchEduardo has been my preferred chestnut vendor for 20 years, and he claims his chestnuts get better each year.The first SM Department Store which launched Henry Sy's retail empire is now an all-year clearance outlet.The flower shops near the Plaza Miranda end of Hidalgo are a favorite source for wholesale flower needs.The Plaza Miranda marker is a familiar sight visible from the main street and church, but largely ignored by the localsThe Black Nazarene is the most popular attraction of Quiapo ChurchSeasonal fruits are sold in most areas, notably Plaza Miranda plus Hidalgo and Villalobos streets.  Bananas are available all year roundDried seafood products are also sold everywhere at bargain prices. This guy sold me four large pieces of smoked boneless milkfish for only PHP 100!
The souvenirs and handicrafts stores under the Quezon bridge are very popular attractions, next only to the Church
The souvenirs and handicrafts stores under the Quezon bridge are very popular attractions, next only to the Church
Eduardo has been my preferred chestnut vendor for 20 years, and he claims his chestnuts get better each year.
Eduardo has been my preferred chestnut vendor for 20 years, and he claims his chestnuts get better each year.
The first SM Department Store which launched Henry Sy's retail empire is now an all-year clearance outlet.
The first SM Department Store which launched Henry Sy's retail empire is now an all-year clearance outlet.
The flower shops near the Plaza Miranda end of Hidalgo are a favorite source for wholesale flower needs.
The flower shops near the Plaza Miranda end of Hidalgo are a favorite source for wholesale flower needs.
The Plaza Miranda marker is a familiar sight visible from the main street and church, but largely ignored by the locals
The Plaza Miranda marker is a familiar sight visible from the main street and church, but largely ignored by the locals
The Black Nazarene is the most popular attraction of Quiapo Church
The Black Nazarene is the most popular attraction of Quiapo Church
Seasonal fruits are sold in most areas, notably Plaza Miranda plus Hidalgo and Villalobos streets.  Bananas are available all year round
Seasonal fruits are sold in most areas, notably Plaza Miranda plus Hidalgo and Villalobos streets. Bananas are available all year round
Dried seafood products are also sold everywhere at bargain prices. This guy sold me four large pieces of smoked boneless milkfish for only PHP 100!
Dried seafood products are also sold everywhere at bargain prices. This guy sold me four large pieces of smoked boneless milkfish for only PHP 100!

Local Stuff on Amazon - Easy-to-Get Souvenirs

It is more fun in the Philippines, especially in Quiapo! Learn more about the Philippines, and get cool stuff from the largest online store - Amazon!

My Google Maps - Shopping district vicinity map

This is a very small area containing a multitude of interesting sights. Under Quezon Bridge, along Palanca Street where jeepneys from Quezon City make a U-turn going back to Quezon City, are numerous souvenir and native handicraft shops are located. Walk along Palanca Street going to Sta Cruz you pass by Quinta Market on the left, Excelente Hams and various Chinese bakeries and dry fish stands on the right. Further down you'll reach the original SM department store, now an all-year clearance store. Then Isetann and the LRT Carriedo Train Station

Then turn right to Hidalgo, pass by the photography shops, fruit stands. Enjoy the flower stands when you reach Plaza Miranda. Attend mass at the historic Black Nazarene church.

Turn right again to Villalobos and discover fruit shops and accessories shops.

Manila's Premiere Bargain Center

Street Stalls Selling Fruits and Spices
Street Stalls Selling Fruits and Spices

What do you buy here?

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It is many things to different people. To me, it is old Manila, where we enjoy Chinese delicacies and find super bargains and where we buy ingredients in bulk (have you ever bought ingredients to bake 1,500 fruitcakes and 10,000 cookies?) . What is it to you?

What do you think? - Share with us your Quiapo Experience

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