September 02, 2006

Pirate's Lair 2006

a=a=anime, m=music, s=software
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Two years fast forward from my last entry about the pirate's lair of Quiapo, an update is expectedly needed. There were lots of expansions up to the periphery of the original buildings. DVD quality is going to the rats. Why? They get from China and not from Malaysia. They get those 100-in-1 dvds which degrade the quality. I still prefer the 1 title = 1 dvd since they have the possibility of retaining all those wonderful special features.

The map above indicates the location (yellow) of the pirate stalls and the letters are as follows: a = anime, m = music, s = software.

Entrance Points:
1. From the Quiapo Church (and South-bound commutes), enter the Lacson underpass and cross the street to Hidalgo exit point. Use map indicated above.

Arlegui entrance point
2. From the North-bound commutes, jump off at the street where you see a green-tarpaulin signage saying "Hortaleza Vaciador," a local beauty supplies shop. This street perpendicular to Quezon boulevard is Arlegui street. Go straight and use the map above as indicated.

What to Bring:
* Cash - lots of it! Going back is a pain in the neck, so if you find a title that you've been dying to watch, get it!
* Messenger bag - backpacks are sitting ducks for pickpocketers, so having this will ensure the safety of your belongings
* Wear simple clothes. The stench of "Eau de Corps" (More like Eau de Corpse) compounded by the aroma of dried puke, expired cooking oil, mildew and piss is enough for you to wear only shorts and T-shirt.

What NOT to Bring:
* Credit cards - Everything is cash-only basis.
* Expensive cellphones - Snatchers abound. Still, it's an irony to see Muslim DVD traders owning phones more sophisticated than yours.

Most of the sellers are MUSLIMS! So, if you value your life, do not crack any Anti-Moslem jokes. But you can ask them why Allah chose Isa (Jesus) to come down here during the Day of Judgement and not their beloved Mohammed, and listen to their wonderful and defensive answers. Or you can ask them if whether they prostrate themselves five times a day towards Mekkah right there in the black-colored concrete alleyways with their heads bowed on the filthy floor.

*Caveat: It is unevitable that some touts will accost you along one of the DVD streets enticing you to buy their Adult dvds. You can see them standing on the street with nothing to do but harrass people with their sales pitch. My advice is: DON'T GO. They will lead you the the darkest recesses of this bungalow marketplace where they will trap you in buying their wares. They will "implicitly" threaten you with violence if you do not buy a single one of their overpriced dvds. They don't give discounts because they know you are at their mercy. A college friend of mine who frequented this Muslim quarter ended up running for his life when they forced him to buy their dvds. These shady sellers force you to buy so they can get a commision for leading you to their lair.

All sectors of Filipino society patronize the pirate's lair. From students from MLQU, to priests from San Sebastian Church, to nurses & doctors, to SM employees, to rich SOBs riding their FORD F150, to barong-clad personnel from MalacaƱang, to DVD resellers coming from the provinces, to Caucasian and Korean tourists in shorts and puka-shell necklaces. No one is exempted.

1. Malaysia - they provide the best quality DVDs with their shiny laminated insert and the golden hue of the discs. DVDs from this Truly Asian nation is truly fantastic.
2. China - they are characterized by their silver discs, the Chinese characters, the atrocious synopsis and their subtitles done in perfect pidgin English.
3. Philippines - they have golden discs with golden designs (unlike the malaysians) and their title inserts looked as if a high school dropout photoshopped the screenshots and voila! Also, other manufacturers burn films into blank dvd disks just like burning a vcd in your computer. In this case, it's a hit and miss.

Products Sold:
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)
6. Asian Telenovelas (Boxed sets)
7. Tagalog films - DVD burned
8. Sitcoms, US drama series, Documentaries (Boxed sets)
9. Adult Features

*MP3s & CDs - usually great copies and cheap at P25 a disc
1. Oldies
2. Jazz
3. Rock & Pop
4. OPMs

1. DVD copies
2. Videoke
3. Adult Features

1. Games
2. Installers
3. Anti-Virus Programs

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 Kurosawa and Tinto Brass), 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.
To know whether a title is copied from an original DVD:
* Check the quality of the DVD insert. If it looks like similar to the released DVD and not like a photoshopped title where the words are misspelled and the description is inaccurate, then it must be from an original copy.

* Check the spine. If there's a code like "DVD-349" or "MCD-582", most often than not, it's copied from an original disc.

2. Check for scratches and defects on the shiny side of the DVD.
* If there are scratches, it would be difficult to return.
* Make sure that the film can play in your player. Certain players do not accept PAL format, so be wary of European art films who have PAL stamped at the back.

3. Have you choice be tested on their DVD player.
* Don't take no for an answer! Threaten them that you'll buy from the next stall. If they will assure you that the title in hand is a DVD copy, then you either take their word for it or you ask them "nicely" if they have a blood-relative nearby who can test it for you.

* A P5-10 discount must be asked.
* Current Prices range from P35-55 nowadays.

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."

What to Do During Raids:
* Go onto the street & act non-chalantly
* Enter the nearest convenience store or fastfood joint and loiter inside
* Shout hysterically in Arabic that you have a bomb strapped inside your shirt.

* The Real Deal:

Today, raids are RARE 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. Just
make sure to get out of the DVD alley lest you will be locked inside with the
Muslim traders.


cyberpunk said...

hehe nice post...very uhm, informative...esp the part on how to choose dvds and what to do during raids :D

Senor Enrique said...

Very informative, indeed. Thanks!


I love this! I would have done something similiar before but it appears that this is already the definitive version of the Quiapo story :-)

steel said...

You dared whip out you camphone in Arlegui?! What has gotten into you, man?!

Jules said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jules said...

cyberpunk & eric: thanks. all for the love of good films...

genius: thanks. hope to update this soon..

steel: twas ko na kinunan nun... i was crazy then. but then again, when i look at the phones there, mas hi-tech yung kanila.

Keyser said...

Excellent! The Department of Tourism should hand out guides like this at the airport!

Anonymous said...

Ayuz. I never miss a trip to Quiapo whenever i go to the city. I usually ignore the church and go directly to the pirate's lair. One great find is Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon. You can't get that at SM.

Try bittorrent for the classics if you can't find them at Quiapo. I have downloaded files of Midnight Cowboy, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Graduate, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and even The Wizard of Oz. They're all there..

Jules said...

ted: i hope they do! cross your fingers!! haha

anonymous: it's only in quiapo that i found my kurosawa dvds... i collected them pa-isaisa, so completing them was a exhilarating.

you should try going to this stall at the airconned 4-story bldg near the defunct ministop store where they sell all classics lahat from china.

Trina Joyce said...


I’m doing research on pirated DVD consumers. Pwede po kayo ma-interview? If interested, will send formal invitation which includes details of study.

UP Diliman