August 3, 2017

HIDDEN GEMS FROM UNDERGROUND - TRAVEL TO MANILA CITY HALL UNDERPASS

HIDDEN GEMS FROM UNDERGROUND

If you ask me what is with my experience passing through the Mapua to City Hall underpass, the first thing that will enter my mind to share with you was my first time passing through that dark little dungeon- I discovered a vintage or second hand book store where I spent hours browsing for good books.  Because of that book store, that underpass became important to me. Around 1/4 of the books in my bookshelves in my office, came from this underpass. And this is not just your ordinary bookstore, you can  ask for specific books that you want or need. He can even look such particular book for you. The owner, knows everything what he has in stock and what he has to come. The system they have is not what you think to just have a bunch of books and let it sold out. No, ever week, they have a rotation from different branches, so every week, there are new arrivals. There are also limited edition books that costs around 100,000 plus. And mind you, kuya "____". the owner, really has a strong memory, he don't use a pen and paper to record all my requests, he just store it in his mind and when I get back to get the books, it's complete! And I find it truly amazing! And I go back again and again, became their suki and now I have a purpose to pass through that underpass, just to visit that book store. Eventually, that book store started an online shop named "________". They offer delivery via courier and that's awesome! 


I would like to share with you another story besides that "Underground Boookstore". Underpass is such a historical place in our family. Most of my family members, my eldest sister for example, spent their life in an underpass few kilometres from Mapua-Cityhall- The Quiapo underpass, to do some business. My sister sells nuts and hair accessories every morning before he goes to her school- University of Santo Tomas. Her underground business was the reason why she was able to fund her education and graduate a Cumlaude in Mas Communication in her University; thus I don't underestimate people who do business in underpasses, I actually do believe that they all have an interesting life stories to tell. You know, they won't a live a life there if they have no bigger life purpose. 

It's been a very long time since I last passed an underpass. The last time I've been there was maybe 3 years ago. I ordered books in their online shop and arranged it for a pick up. Thus, I didn't actually pass it. I just hazzard my car in one of the closed entry in City Hall besides the main road and went down to pick up my orders and get up again. Today, I am inviting you to come with me as I reminisce and describe you my latest City Hall Underpass experience that I just revisited yesterday. 

It was a cloudy afternoon in a Wednesday. It's not too hot and it's not raining- the perfect weather to walk! I was in a good mood because I felt that I've accomplished something in my class- our exercise to write an article about Architecture Critiquing. I and my classmates are very attentive to what our professor was explaining but you can also feel some small sounds that sounds like some are already excited to go home. I checked my gold and huge watch for the time  and it's almost 3:15 in the afternoon, our class is only up to 3:15 and that explains those small sounds. I packed my bags, ask some few questions to my professor and politely, I walked down the white and wide stairs in our university as I pass by a lot of students who are busy with each agendas. Everyone is wearing their Mapua ID Lace that are mostly color red. You will see little by little, the guards who are wearing a decent light blue polo shirts as you approach the beaming lights that coming from the entry and exit arch in our university. Oh, It was a good day to walk around. It's not yet time for me to go home. I decided I will visit the City Hall Underpass since I parked my car close to it - It was just outside the Intramuros Entry arch near The BayLeaf Hotel. As you exit this arch, the City Hall's big, cream with red colored head clock; the small hand was pointing at 3 and the big hand was pointing between 4 and 5, is already visible. If you look down and straight on the road, you will see the fast cars which are running on the main road.  At the most right, there is a walk path with green metal-ish-something kind of green roof and there are street vendors which mostly sell foods. As you follow the path straight and a little curvy to your right on it's end, you will then now see the Manila City Hall's Underpass. Now at this portion, the green field on my right side is much more visible and it already smells a manure of a horse or whatever green animal or animal who eats grass. I don't know where it came from or if I smelled it right but I am sure that there is that kind of smell that will approach you by entering the underpass. hehe... It's kind of a bit heart breaking because even if you're not even at the closest of the underpass' entry, you will already see dirt walls, garbages and vandalism. All people passing by are busy and are walking fast. No one even dare to hold the railings as it is covered by rust. The wall painting have different patches of paints that you will make you think, is this an art or they just never really finish a single colored paint? Eh? Oh well, besides that, the tiles are broken, a lot of pieces are missing and you will not even able to recognize it's original color because it is covered by black-dirts. It's slippery. It's not pleasant in the eyes. But still, many people are passing through it. As you walk down the stairs, you will notice a green-ish kind of wet slime covering some parts of the wall and I assume that it's caused by the rain and dirts. Your only choice is to turn right as you finish walking down the stairs and reach the main level. And as you turn your head right, what will surprise you is the community that lives and work there. Shops of different items from gadgets, to fruits, to fashion stuff will welcome you on your right side(what you'll see on your left side are still the broken, dirty and missing pieces of tiles which covered the walls). There are big flash cards of cheap prices that will entice you to buy. If it's your first time going there and you like shopping, you might stop and look for each items. Trust me, there are a lot of varieties! Believe it or not, I almost wanted to buy the small chiffon patterned scarfs that are hanging above their shop but I told myself, "Trish, you're not here to go shopping. You have no money. Keep walking". Haha!... As you pass these stores, I noticed some buckets of water and as I look up, I figured out that the buckets  serves as  catcher of the dropping waters from the ceiling that was caused by the rain. Ughh... I know the feeling of having that kind of situation I remember the place where I used to live. I hate rainy season because just like what I've always say: "Pati sa loob ng bahay namin nagbabaha" (Even inside our house gets flood; sarcastic way). I know what those people feel but it still made me think positively that atleast, there are "good samaritans" who takes initiative of putting buckets for the betterment of everyone who uses to live and work there. 

The underpass is just really short. Maybe, around 200meters long? But! Mind you, I'm not even at the 1/8 part of it but I am already sweating.  as you walk a little farther, you will feel it's darkness and besides the white colored light bulbs connected to extension wires that are hanging, you will also notice a beaming sunlight in the middle  left side of the underpasss because there is also a stairs there going to somewhere. As you pass by the middle, this time, you will not see the dirty missing and broken tiled walls because what you'll now see are more set of vendors. More variety of items to choose from! If you look into your right as you passed by the middle stairs, you'll see my favorite book store that I am telling you about. If you are a bit observant, you will notice that they have a small board maybe a bond paper size which I think made of wood, states their name -"Books from Underground"; I just only noticed that this time. As of that moment, they are not yet open and still preparing for their opening time.  Yep, they are only open during the afternoon till night. As you keep walking, you will easily reach the end and it's hard to miss the beaming lights from left and right, glimpsing because of the 2 stairs.  As I reached the end, I saw just the same agenda. Left and right, there are dirty cream painted walls that are full of vandalism, broken, dirty and missing pieces of tiles, a lot of people who are going up and down. I took some few shots, and then turned back immediately. I decided I'll buy something with 100pesos cash that I brought with me. I bought the pillow case worth 35 Pesos each but the vendor gave me a dsicount of 10 pesos if I buy two, so I bought two.  The vendor on it's front sells variety of Hello Kitty items which are all pink! Gah, if you only know how much I am addicted to Hello Kitty! Again, I told myself, I have no money. I bought the 30pesos mango instead. Mapapapikit ka sa sobrang asim! I asked kuya the vendor to take a photo with me but he's kind of a shy type hehe. Besides his shop, is a Notary and Affidavit shop. Great! I've heard on class that there's now a notary there and I was interested. Now, I proved it myself that yeah, my classmate was right and it really do exists there! Going back to the topic, I still have a two golden 5 peso coin in my almost sweating hand. I was thinking what to buy worth 10 pesos and luckily, I found a cute hair tie. Jackpot! 100 pesos well spent! Yay!

I was slowly walking back. I didn't mind if I am already sweating because of heat. I was at peace. Appreciating the combination of silence and noise and the strong vibrations of the people. I am taking photos naturally-you know, something like you just simply take photos and not make a scene. But I know, there are still a lot of eyes looking at me. I wonder what do they think of me. Do they find me beautiful? Or not appropriate for that place? Or what? Well, I don't mind anyway. I went up back again and I smelled the green-eater-animal manure again and noticed more stuff (that I didn't noticed awhile ago) that the vendors up stairs are selling. As you follow back the walking path, you'll notice a queue of side cards or pedicabs(that I didn't noticed a while ago too) who are asking you to hire and ride them. I crossed the street as I sight my grey hatchback dirty car with dirt vandalism (you know what you do when you are a kid-drawing something using your fingers on a dirty car). I was focused looking at him, my baby brio car and then one familiar  person seemed to talked to me. Know who's him and you can read another story and thoughts about that, here on this link


It was indeed a pleasant afternoon until I drove and faced the traffic for 4 hours going home. At the same time, I was a bit alarmed and broken hearted as I see the unpleasant mess of that underpass. We cannot blame the people who are selling there. I think it is illegal to sell there, they all don't have business permits I think. But for me, it is nice to have a mini Divisoria hidden in that kind of dungeon. The variety of items that you could buy there and the shops itself could be a source of entertainment for the passerby.  But on the other hand, those frequent passerby might be annoyed and feel like they are disturbance and it makes the underpass more crowded and gives more heat. I don't know, I couldn't blame them. But I think that the best solution is to make it air-conditioned, and make those vendors, legal. Pay their taxes so that they could sustain a clean air-conditioned, well lighted underpass. At least in that case, we could feel where our many goes. It's not impossible. It's just a small portion of the government budget. And other countries have air-conditioned undperasses.  I hope that the government could do something to restore it's beauty even if just little by little, most especially that it's the heart of Manila. The heart of the Philippines. 


Now, would you dare to pass these "hidden gems from underground"- The Manila City Hall's Underpass? 

MAnila city hall underpass

MAnila city hall underpass

MAnila city hall underpass

MAnila city hall underpass

MAnila city hall underpass

MAnila city hall underpass


MAnila city hall underpass

MAnila city hall underpass


MAnila city hall underpass


MAnila city hall underpass

MAnila city hall underpass



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