Quiapo according to noted Filipino writer Jose Lacaba is the “armpit of the nation” or the barometer of the Philippines’ way of life.
After many years of neglect and eventual transfer of the center of glitz and glamour of Filipinos to other cities, Quiapo became synonymous with crime, fraud, poverty, fake goods, and other illicit activities.
Because of this promoted image, it became an accepted reality that whenever a friend or relative plans to go to Quiapo, they will get a cautionary advice “Please be careful”
The annual Feast of the Black Nazarene draws millions of faithful to join in a daylong procession. Those attending are advised to pray for miracles to improve their lives but also watch the next person beside them.
For the last three years, I have been going to Quiapo to document the place. One of the stories I did, featured a homeless student Rodallie S. Mosende who grew up on Paterno Street. In spite of all the difficulties, she struggled to finish a high school education. Because of the story I did, an anonymous donor gave her a four-year college scholarship and monthly stipend. She is now a college sophomore and for the first time in her life, they are renting a small bedroom so she can study better and have some privacy. http://rodalliesmosende.wordpress.com/
In 2013, I spent more time in Quiapo, not only making pictures but to know more about the people who reside and work there. I was determined to contribute in correcting the misrepresentation of the community and to share their stories. The attributed negatives against Quiapo is also present in more affluent areas of Metro-Manila.
The story of Quiapo is not about crime and filth. It is a haven for strong-hearted individuals tenacious enough to overcome life’s obstacles, determined to make life better for themselves and their families, and motivated to rise up and dream against all odds.
While many avoid Quiapo because of fear for their lives and property, those in the know see Quiapo in a different light – a Mecca for hard-working individuals sharing a common goal of finding solutions to their grinding poverty with high hopes for prosperity on the horizon.
I hope that my work negates the common impression of Quiapo and give Quiapo a second chance. Like some of her residents, all they need is a second chance to improve their lives.
I hope that you find nuggets of inspiration from their images and stories.