August 05, 2004
The Pirate's Lair
The hidden location of the pirate's lair. Just go into Arlegui Street.;
Hmmm... And so the plot thickens. This is one of the entry points to the infamous Quiapo DVD market. From the Quiapo church, you have to cross the underpass to the other side of the avenue. There, you can ask for directions or better yet just follow where most people are going. Here, Arlegui street poses as one of the less crowded access to the fabled stuff. Just go straight. Do not panic if you see a cop because as far as anyone with an IQ higher than 90 knows, they are frequently batting a blind eye to this seemingly illegal trade. I think their philosophy is that as long no one is hurt, killed, maimed or kidnapped, then everything's well.
Caution: Do not bring lots of cash, or credit cards for that matter. Do not show off your cellphone in public, or use it in the streets. Do not wear expensive watches or jewelry for they can become targets for street pickpockets. Do not wear formal clothes because Muslim merchants are wary of giving discounts to coños. Furthermore, do not make any snide remarks ala GWBush about Muslims because you won't get any discount that way. (I was about to write "you won't be able to escape Quiapo alive if you do insult them.")
Inside one of the many alleys in DVD country;
There are lots of places to start. And you have to be discriminating with your choice of DVDs. Just don't take it as it is because if something is wrong with it, it can be very difficult to return it back for exchange. There are rows and rows of DVDs and with luck, you can stumble on rare titles (like the works of Paolo Pasolini & Kurosawa), or better copies of unreleased films. The DVDs are stack on shelves upon shelves extending from the floor to the ceiling. When they say DVD copy, it means it was copied from the original, but when they say "Clear copy," it means it's not worth buying the disc yet.
1. Check for the titles.
2. Check for scratches and defects on the shiny side of the DVD.
3. Have you choice be tested on their DVD player.
4. Haggle. Currently, it's P70 ($1.30) per disc. If bundled into three purchases, you can get them for P65 ($1.20) each.
5. Make sure they stamp/mark the DVD title insert, so if you return them, you can argue that it was from their store that you've bought the disk from because if not, they can play that Shylock argument that you "might have bought it from other stalls."
An otaku shopping for anime;
There are lots of films to choose from. Just remember to have the presence of mind on what to buy and a limited budget for your trip, so that you won't indulge on impulse buying. It's difficult to control oneself once you're there, especially if you have been afflicted with the shopping bug.
Many of the films being peddled in Quiapo are:
1. Unreleased Hollywood films
a. copied from a promotional disc
b. copied inside a theater
2. Released Hollywood films (copied from the original DVD)
3. Classics (Hitchcock, Kurosawa, war movies, etc.)
4. Arthouse films (infrequent, scarce supply, rare titles) ex. Criterion collection
5. Asian foreign films (Korean, Japanese)
Raids are frequent in Quiapo. However, if Edu and his cohorts have a scheduled raid, more or less, the sellers have already been tipped off and are extremely vigilant during that particular day. You can see them talking about the impending raid, having boxes readied, and their supplies are not 100% displayed. Besides, if a raid ensues, the news spreads like wildfire and within a span of five minutes, all of the shops are closed. Should you encounter one such raid, then simply head to the nearest convenience store and take cover.
So, be sure to send a postcard on your next trip to Quiapo.