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Exploring the Mystical Manila: A 1-Day Quiapo Itinerary Edit

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Colleen Cabili  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Pulsing with heat, smells, and noise, Quiapo is chaotic with its peddlers of wares, pirated DVDs, electronic supplies, China-made apparel, and local fruits and vegetables. It is a market of all sorts, haphazardly squeezed into a tight, messy district, and steeped with the mystical.

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Rows upon rows of stalls selling religious artifacts encroach on the pavement that surround Quiapo Church. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)

Home to the largest number of church devotees, Quiapo has three notable places of worship: Quiapo Church, San Sebastian Church, and Manila Golden Mosque. Surrounding these are legions of hawkers selling amulets, spiritual icons, candles, rosaries, herbal medicines, and services such as palmistry and tarot card reading.

Market aside, Quiapo is legendary for the biggest procession in the Philippines, that of the Black Nazarene. The procession is held every 9th of January, where millions of devotees flock Quiapo Church and crawl through the streets of Manila. 

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Quaipo Church is always packed with devotees and ordinary churchgoers during mass, but the number of attendees doubles every first Friday of the month. (Photo courtesy of Vic Montes.)

Meanwhile, San Sebastian Church is the most visited among international travelers. It's the only steel-based church in Asia, worn to the texture of rust.

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The steel structure that supports the church was prefabricated in Belgium and transported to the country in 8 separate shipments. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)
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San Sebastian Church's interiors are as impressive as its facade. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)
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Trompe l'oeil paintings can be seen gracing the walls and the ceiling in this close-up photo. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)

Muslim people from Mindanao have also claimed property of one specific section of Quiapo, those around the Manila Golden Mosque. It's the largest mosque in the metropolis, topped with a golden dome especially made for the supposed visit of the Libyan President in the 1970s. More than a hundred Muslim families now thrive around it, seeking refuge from the poverty that grips them down south.

Masha'Allah ما شاء الله‎ #visits#masjid#islam

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The Manila Golden Mosque is spacious enough to accommodate up to 3,000 people inside. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)

Whether visiting Quiapo is a mystical journey or a mistake, there is one place that you ought to see: the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista. This traditional Filipino Hispanic house once served as a home to the leaders of the Katipunan, who sought the freedom of the country against Spain. 

Tahanan ng mga Katipunero. #bahaynakpilbautista

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The house, which was built in 1914, was declared a cultural property by The National Historical Commission of the Philippines in August 25, 2011. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)
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Various historical figures have set foot inside Bahay Nakpil-Bautista. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)
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Time seems to stand still inside the house. (Photo courtesy of JR Felipe.)

Having lived its prime, however, the heritage house still continues to host revolutionary meetings, marking a historic venue for social change.


Apart from Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, all destinations are free to visit. Entrance to the historic heritage house costs P40/head. Wear comfortable clothing and leave your valuables at home when you embark on this walking tour, which takes around 3 hours to complete. 


Have fun exploring and don't forget to let us know how your trip goes! 


Original text by Michelle Tobias


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