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Time to check out Baclaran

By Jake Ramirez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:57:00 02/26/2009

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Leisure

HAVE you heard of these reasons when you ask drivers why there is heavy traffic on certain days??Baclaran kasi? for Wednesday and ?Quiapo po? for Friday? Heavy churchgoing public is the common cause for slow traffic everywhere.

I visited Baclaran on a Monday and I was surprised with the absence of chaos. Roads around the church weren?t clogged. Try going on a Wednesday and expect mayhem.

Welcome to Baclaran, home of the thriving underground economy south of Manila.

Baclaran love affair

I?ve been going to Baclaran since I was in kindergarten?it was only a walk away from our home in Zamora, Pasay. Those were the days when a kid could leave the house without his parents worrying that something bad would happen to him.

I was lucky to have been entrusted by my parents with shopping money early on, so that I could shop by my lonesome.

In Baclaran, I?d buy my shirts, toys (miniature clay cooking pots where I honed my cooking skills), and my hobbies?goldfish and plants for my bonsai that would eventually die anyway.

I sharpened my early fashion sense in Baclaran, even buying shirt jack polo school uniform when the acceptable uniform was a plain polo. I preferred early on in life not to be part of the herd.

Fast-forward to 2009 and I still go to Baclaran for the same things. I go to Baclaran not only to shop but also to spiritually recharge at the Shrine Of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Even the rich and famous go there every Tuesday midnight for their devotion?society columnist Tessa Prieto-Valdes, designers Rajo Laurel, Vittorio Barba, Pepsi Herrera and Edwin Uy, TV hosts Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda, and the King of Comedy, Dolphy.

Baclaran has had its bad press, thanks to knock-offs, from popular brands to brand paper bags. The joke is, once a fashion trend is found in Baclaran stalls, it?s time to drop that trend.

When Linda Evangelista did the Vogue cover in a Tom Ford YSL Rive Gauche peasant blouse with matching skirt back in 2001, six months after the magazine?s release, Baclaran stalls were carrying peasant blouses in all colors, as well as de riguer macram belts?proof of the power of China?s mass production and the viajeras? merchandising skills.

Two Christmases ago, I gave my mom a pair of Marc Jacobs? Mickey Mouse flats, and no, I didn?t pay $150 for those: I shelled out P100 in Baclaran and she was so happy when she wore them to church.

Ins and outs

Leave the glitzy outfits at home. In Baclaran, look dressed-down so you?re no magnet for pickpockets and hold-up men.

Baclaran comes alive Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and on weekends. Just like Divisoria, there are high-rise shopping malls such as Berma Shopping Center and Smokee Fashion House.

But the best deals can be found on the sidewalks. Shopping starts from Edsa Rotonda all the way to Airport Road on Wednesday, when Taft Avenue is basically closed.

Galleria De Baclaran burned down a year ago. The new mall just outside the LRT Baclaran Station will open soon.

The streets around the church are choked with stores selling various items, from school uniforms to bedtime wear.

For those looking for garden plants and orchid supplies, check out Bayanihan Street near Max?s. It has ferns, mums, calla lilies and orchids. There is even a pet shop that sells lovebirds.
Bayanihan also has curtain and baby supply stores.

After a day of shopping, go to the original site of dampa-style eatery, the Seaside Market, or the many lechon places, including the airconditioned Lydia?s Lechon.

Baclaran is here to stay, whether the economy is good or bad, especially if budget-shopping is the main order of the day.



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