Recto Day

We consider Sunday ‘Recto Day’. My sister who stays in Pampanga comes here to Manila on a fairly regular basis, after every two weeks, to buy stuff for her ukay-ukay business that is rapidly making headway. My younger brother and I would accompany to carry her tote bag for her while she carries on her back a Jansport-ful of Guccis, Louis Vuittons, DKNYs, Pradas, Dolce and Gabbanas and when she happens to be lucky, some pairs Manolo Blahnik stilettos which according to her customers are incomparably beautiful but painfully punishing to their well-pedicured toenails.

Coming from Mandaluyong, I take the MRT to Taft then transfer to the LRT1 line going to Monumento. I alight at D. Jose station and meet her at Chowking in the corner facing the long lines of run-down cinemas on Recto and stalls selling pirated DVDs on Avenida. My brother, who is coming from Makati takes the route from Gil Puyat/Buendia.

After a glass of cold coffee gulaman called nai cha, which my sister loves, and a heavy breakfast for me, we begin treading the street going to Carriedo passing one by one her suki who give her great discounts, after patient bargaining. Need I say? From Avenida, we either cross the other side of the street or brave the crowded street market to Quiapo church, dodging fortune tellers, toy vendors, and young children selling Sampaguita or leis made from colorful Everlastings. Experience tells us that ukay-ukay supplies in these areas are being replenished every two weeks, usually on a Sunday.

I eagerly look forward to this weekend activity because this is a time for the three of us to catch up on each other’s life and talk about the latest gossips involving our parents in Mindanao and younger siblings who are both studying in a university in Iloilo. We talk a lot about work, our individual love stories, and plans for the future. I notice we often talk about almost the same things but we do not seem to get tired of them because they make us feel secure; these talks remind us that despite the complications in our lives, complications that we may have a hard time sharing even to each other, still simple things like family remain constant.

Of course, other than this, we also get to experience the bustle of old Manila that is hard to come by in newer cities like Mandaluyong or Quezon City. It is a good thing that the three of us never really like malls that function as the only source of cultural immersion in these cities bordering Manila. We all agree these drab buildings are suffocating and magnify boredom several hundred times.

But Manila, the old Manila, that is, is different. It’s alive. These more modern cities that comprise Metro Manila may rival Manila in terms of business opportunities but they all pale in comparison to the culture and the brand of cosmopolitanism the capital has. The noise of Ortigas in Pasig, or even the sleek Ayala Avenue in Makati are irritating, and to borrow Emile Durkheim’s terminology–alienating, but Manila redefines the idea of noise, and to anyone who has had a taste of it, it’s called music.

And what better way to get immersed in this soothing diaphanous cacophony of sounds but on the streets of Recto.

We end the eventful day by saying good byes to each other and sending our sister off to a bus to Pampanga but not before buying a box of freshly-baked diced mungo or ube hopia from Bakers’ Fair.

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8 thoughts on “Recto Day”

  1. I was here with Neil, last Friday. We went to D. Jose, where the mini-bus station going to Bulacan are now stationed. I miss this chaotic setting where I literally recalled my younger days in Manila. Back then, I seem to have the strongest desire to get out of Manila, escape from the chaos, the dust, the dirt, the mud stricken sidewalks, the rugby-boys…

    Actually now, I think it has not change but it’s strong character is such a humbling experience for me now. It brings me some peace, an inner peace and comfort. It’s ironic but I long to spend some cool weekend going around the busy sidewalks of Recto, Avenida, even to Divisoria..

    1. Hey, yeah, this post also brings back so many memories of how things were before, when we were a lot younger. hahaha.

      i think that’s a good idea, to go back there one of these days. tell des to plan it!

  2. i love the article but not the first photo posted =)

    thanks for taking details on those weekends we spent in that beautiful place – recto .

    1. aha! karon lang nag-comment. see you soon bem. take care. i love you sis. ma-post pa ko damo soon, kung damo na kita pictures nga nakadtuan ta.

  3. i don’t know where my mother buy books but she always told me she went to Recto to buy the books I needed.

    ah so it’s confirmed. dyan kami madalas kumain before heading home 🙂

    school is still tolerable for now but as August approaches, there are more deadlines to beat and as what you said in one of your posts “I’m lucky to get my five-hour sleep.”

  4. i’ve been to recto a few times before.

    not to shop for ukay-ukay but for books.

    diyan din madalas makipagtawaran ang mom ko (ng mga bagay na binibili niya just like bags and shoes) which i find annoying kasi it really takes time. haha

    one time nga nakailang balik pa kami bago ibigay yung isang feng shui thing eh.

    yung pinaka-last pic po ba, malapit sa chowking kinuha?

    or maybe the street is jsut identical… 🙂

    1. i love recto. the last pic was taken in the corner before that of chowking’s.

      for books on the other hand, i would then go to the malls. most of the books sold in recto, especially those from japanese surplus are more expensive.

      how’s school?

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