I know Quiapo since I was a kid, even before its reputations have always been a busy, dirty, haven to petty thieves’ place. 20 years past and it never change...The reputation that is. But many things have change, specially, when Mayor Lito Atienza took the mayoralty, 6 years ago. One of the notable changes that he did was the restoration of Plaza Miranda, and the Underpass. The Passageway the connect Carriedo with Hidalgo, before most people dread to use the underpass just to go to the other side of Quezon Blvd. The underpass is poorly lighted, congested with vendors and passerby alike. This kind of situation is haven to those that would like to commit petty thievery like snatching or hold-ups. Mayor Atienza changes it by removing the vendors from the underpass and constructed stalls where those vendors can place their ware with out obstructing the hallways. And ensure that the people using the underpass will be less afraid when using it.
But of course, it is still crowded, what can you expect from a city that has 20 million population during weekdays.
But at least, the changes gives the ordinary Manilenean a feeling security and beauty, every time they walk the steps of that Quiapo underpass into Plaza Miranda. And after the restoration of Carrieo and part of the Sta. Cruz Area, one can't help but say thanks to Mayor Atienza for his initiative to beautify this Capital City of My country.
I went to my Godmother that resides in Concepcion Aguila St. (Quiapo, Manila) last Saturday. I was sent there by my mother to remind her that my Father's 40th day of death will be this coming February 27th. We Catholic- Filipinos have this tradition that we should offer the final prayer to our dead when the 40th day from the time of it's death came. Anyway, after informing my Godmother, I also inform her that I will be buying some flowers for my Dad's grave, she ask my Godfather to accompany me to those that sell Flowers in-front of the Quiapo Church at Plaza Miranda (Quiapo). My uncle is not a big man, he just stand I guess a 5-foot flat, with a balding head and a crooked back. But back then, 20 years ago, I was told that my uncle is one of the tough guys in that area. They say that no one will touch you while you are in Quiapo is you inform them that you are related with "Jerrying Kirat" which is what the people back then are fond of calling him because his left eye is blind.
I really don't know if they still consider him a tough guy, but one thing is for sure, almost everyone in that area know him, maybe because he is a kubrador of Jueteng (a local gambling game that feature two sets of numbers that is draw twice a day. the winner usually win 10,000 pesos for every 10 pesos bet that they made.) and his former identity in that area. I didn’t have a hard time buying myself some flowers, the vendor even pick the most beautiful bouquet for me because my Godfather inform them that I am his godson. Looking in the face of those people at quiapo will sometimes stir your mind on the hardships these people have to endure to be able to get a living, whether if its selling some pirated CD's or smuggled goods, you can see in their face that these people have endured so much and will continue on enduring. Same with my Godfather, even thou he is no longer that tough guy that the people of Quiapo once call Jerrying Kirat, they always see him as like them, no matter what happen, they will endure the hardship of living... in the streets of Quiapo