Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Fourth Saturday: Ongpin

I just realized that I should not have restricted this project to Saturdays because recently, my trips have not exactly been on that certain day. An example would be this particular outing on a Thursday. My mom and I are preparing for my graduation and we wanted to look around for some jewelry. Mama said that they had excellent gold jewelry in Ongpin, loads better than the overpriced junk they sell in malls, so even though I had work that night, I did not sleep, and we headed straight for Manila.

At this point, three things have become clear to me: 1. It was a really short trip; 2. I did not take enough pictures; and 3. That place was freaking awesome.

Manila seems so unexplored to me. Even though it is one of the busiest places I've ever been to, the city contains so many nooks and crannies that I can hardly fathom how people go around oblivious to the wonder all around them. The place is an eclectic mix of the old and the new with its aged, crumbly buildings and newly built highrises, fat tangled cords of electric wire and clomping calesas, Chinese billboards and lofty churches; I wish I had eyes at the back and sides of my head so that I could have taken everything in. I'm pretty sure I looked like a tourist, what with all the oohs and aahs I emitted while we walked the narrow streets of Ongpin. I'm kind of embarrassed to know that despite living in the capital for my entire life, I have gone to Ongpin only three times, and this last one was the longest I've spent there and the time I was most aware of where I was.

We went to two churches and sat through two masses (I felt so holy lol). We bought fruit (that was so affordable and exquisitely ripe), we went to lamp shops to scout for perfect lighting for the new house (50% off! I thought I was going to go insane!), and we went to eat at what I think is the first and most authentic Hap Chan branch in Manila (I need to research this, but judging from how everything tasted, I don't think my assumptions are that far off).

The mango sago wasn't as good as it looked, though

Finally, we window-shopped for jewelry. I was not expecting to find jewelry stores at every street. They lined Ongpin as though the Philippines was a gold mine. From asking around and talking to my mother, I learned a couple of things. The first is that "commercial gold" is fancy sales talk for "fake" or at least "nearly fake." The second is that genuine opal jewelry that had diamonds the size of a nucleus costs 68,000php. I lingered at the store where they had that opal set I so desperately wanted and felt like a kid at Toy Kingdom who constantly pointed at the doll house I was dying to take home. My mother said we were going to go back for it. But I'm pretty sure that if ever we did, I would have to pay for it lol. It's all right, though.. I believe that you have to work hardest for the things you want the most.