Calle Esperanza


Avenida-Rizal Pt.1
July 13, 2008, 8:34 am
Filed under: Old Manila | Tags: , , , ,

I could hear the silent whimper of the street whose memories of grandeur is being slowly driven away into the dark pages of our history.

The sound of the train echoes from above, here in this once glamorous street under the LRT, I was soaked by the rain. It was 2 years ago when I discovered this place and always keep coming back. It’s my own chaotic paradise in this once proud city.

Avenida-Rizal, the place to be, with all its glitz and glamor, the Broadway of Manila—but that was years ago, it’s now reduced to this place of cheap thrills, ranging from pirated items to live shows. This place was nowhere near cheap before, the street was dotted with fine dining, cinemas, theaters all the amusement for those who frequented the place.

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Things eventually change and this place did change—for the worse. Gone are the theatres, gone are the luxurious shops and restaurants, replaced by shady cinemas, unscrupulous “live shows” where the only thing they showcase is meat (and not animal meat), and the shops are now cluttered with pirates, and bargain bins.

Being a resident of Metro Manila, I’ve always frequented this place but I never did catch up to its glory days. I first set foot in Avenida-Rizal when I learned that the local Mayor Atienza (during his term) was having this place rebuilt and all vehicular traffic was forbidden to enter, it turned into a pedestrian wonderland. Still people came flocking, not because of its history but because of the things that you could buy here. I came here looking for history but ended up with bags of stuff. What happened to history? I forgot once I saw the low price tags.

It’s a pirate’s den, all manner of pirated goods are sold here. There’s a lot to love for voracious movie goers, bag lovers, designer shirt whores who couldn’t afford the high price at Makati. DVDs here are cheap and it’s going to get cheaper with the steep competition. I was witness to numerous battle for customers and prizes soon went down and down because of all the haggling that going on. It’s good to remember some tips when you’re buying there though;

  • Tip 1, if you want it cheaper tell the person that you are buying from that it’s cheaper at another store(even if it ain’t true).
  • Tip 2: Almost all the shops have the same assortment of stuff because they have only one supplier so if one shop doesn’t have the one your looking for, its likely every one of them don’t have it.
  • Tip 3: Never ever get yourself caught up in a raid, its an exciting and tense situation. I got caught in one and I was left not knowing what to do.
  • Tip 4: Some stores offer updates on new items through text. Argghhh

Then there’s the cheap stuff, from earrings, bracelets, bags and clothes. If you’re in a bind and don’t have that much money to spend on someone on their birthdays or Christmas, then come on over. You could get a gift as low as 5-25 pesos, that’s roughly half a dollar. I went Christmas shopping here and it didn’t make that much of a dent on my wallet, being cheap kicks ass.

But in the end, in all that frivolous search for the quick bang on the buck, people easily forget the history of the place. The buildings are being torn down, replaced by car parks or some shopping place. It’s a sad thing to think about, the city is being slowly ripped of its identity.

Despite the makeover done by the local mayor, the street still cries in pain. As I linger here, looking at the passing of time, I could hear the silent whimper of the street whose memories of grandeur are being slowly driven away into the dark pages of our history.

Save Avenida, Save Manila

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