February 06, 2005
Quiapo Underground: A Repost
The hidden location of the pirate's lair. Just go into Arlegui Street.;
In view of recent events concerning Edu's rampage towards hapless Muslims selling pirated dvds, I have decided to step up efforts in countering his measures by advocating and promoting piracy to Filipinos. The mecca for pirated vcds and dvds is obviously Quiapo. So, here's a repost for those who have not ventured in that surreal place:
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 to Hidalgo street. Your landmarks are: Greenwich pizza along the boulevard, then head east until you see Jollibee on the next block, just go straight pass it until you see a MiniStop convenience store on the next block. It's situated on the fork of the road wherein if you go left, you'll see jeepneys from San Sebastian cathedral coming to your direction, and if you go RIGHT where you'll see an enormous crowd gathering in makeshift stalls. That my friend, is the jackpot. There, you can ask for directions or better yet just follow where most people are going.
Also, 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.
**Tip: To know if the DVD you're holding is copied from the already released original one, check the spine. If you can see a code along the spine like this (DTS-9004), then more or less, it's from the real stuff. If there's none, chances are, it's just a clear copy or a promotional one.
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 P60-65 ($1.20) per disc. If bundled into three purchases, you can get them for cheaper.
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.
CAVEAT: Edu is itching to catch consumers (that's you and me) of pirated dvds and he threatened to imprison those who are caught buying stuff. He said they'll be charged with the anti-fencing law, which any lawyer will tell you will not hold up in court because the goods you're buying are not stolen goods (like cars) since they're made first hand albeit in violation of Intellectual Property Rights law ek-ek. So, go ahead and indulge.
So, be sure to send a postcard on your next trip to Quiapo.