Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hidalgo hideaway

The photographer’s strip, Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, Manila, underwent a makeover with Mayor Lito Atienza’s “pedestrianization” project. The real man behind this dream coming into being is Mr. John Chua. The inauguration was slated last October 5, 2006, a week later than the original date due to the destructive typhoon Milenyo.

Breathing space, amber street lights, and cobble stones have replaced the once sidewalk-- or more appropriately-- middle-of-the-road vendor-populated stretch of Quiapo (like all of its pathways and crevices, anyway). The three-day event lined up activities for photography enthusiasts including rummage sales, contests, and photo opps.

I found some window time to visit the place yesterday afternoon after coming from Delpan in Manila to tie up an errand. The feature for the day included a sports car show. It was somehow ironic to see eye candy sports cars proudly parked on this part of the city which is somehow known for its notoriety for people with shady characters.

Since I have acquired my new compact digicam, which was only the other day, my finances has been subject to depreciation with the collateral damage that goes with my purchase like batteries bundled with a charger, a memory card, and the ideal pouch I'm currently hunting to house my new toy (update: I've found a nice one which fits my digicam like a glove). I’m afraid these are GAS (gadget acquisition syndrome) symptoms that need some immediate attention. Thankfully, it’s not as worse as those on people I saw in Hidalgo, who seemed to have grown black bulky appendages and bulging proboscis off their faces as they position to take that Kodak/Canon/Nikon/whichever brand moment.

As I made my way out of one of the shops where I got my batteries, photographers and other spectators were swarming to one of the makeshift stages built on the street. As soon as I stepped out, I saw this fire-twirling lady who was doing her gig like it’s the most ordinary thing in the world. There was also another lady on the hood of the Miata on display, who, after posing, just walked away maybe to buy a bagful of moon cake in nearby China town. Quiapo kids also gamely played and posed on the stage who became the subject of the photographers. The lady fire-starter held a repeat performance as dusk settled in. This to our and our cameras' delight as our ISOs, shutters, and apertures did their job to catch the traces of the swirling and twirling flame.

After the shooting spree, one guy with a DSLR camera hanging on his neck approached who looks like one of the organizers to have his work critiqued. The DSLR guy received remarks such us “too quick shutter speed" which was evident on the short yellow fire strokes of his takes. The organizer-looking guy is “Willy,” I later learned after I introduced myself. Willy then turned to me, which caught me by surprise, as I wasn’t up to someone critiquing my novice work. I know I still have a long way to go. But only words of praises on the circular amber highlights of the pictures I took and even some nudging to enter them into the contest came from him.

Maybe next year. I’m even having difficulty transferring the pictures to my computer as I write this.

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