Our first stop in the Philippines was Manila and we stayed in Makati, an upmarket area that feels like a sanitized version of the city. To get a better insight into local life, we explored the Quiapo area with a guide from Smokey Tours.
Quiapo isn't an area we would have ventured into on our own. We visited on a Sunday and it was heaving with people shopping in the market and queuing to touch the Black Nazarene (a sacred statue for Catholic Filipinos) outside Quiapo Church.
The market sells just about everything from fresh fruit and vegetables (most notably the most delicious mangoes I've ever eaten) to clothes and dvds, and young children wander around selling plastic bags to shoppers. It had a very different vibe to other Asian markets we've been to.
While making our way around the market, we tried some of the street food. The most exciting food on offer was purple salted eggs. Soaked in brine for around 2 weeks, the eggs have a very salty, savoury taste. They are quite intense on their own, but I bet they would be great as part of a dish (unfortunately we didn't get the chance to verify this).
On the way home our taxi driver told us to lock our doors, he was taking a short cut. And so we drove through a local neighbourhood where the houses were made of corrugated iron and, as it was a Sunday afternoon, the streets were filled with basketball games, families eating outside on makeshift tables, music blaring out from every corner. It was one big street party that went on for block after block. It felt like driving through Latin America, not Asia, and it was such a great glimpse into Manila's huge energy.
Quiapo market is renowned for pickpockets, it's recommended to go with a local guide and don't take valuables with you.