Every time I pass through Quezon Bridge on the way towards Quiapo, my imagination is always stirred by the gold minaret with a crescent moon on its apex. Slowly rising over the hodgepodge of buildings around the area as the jeepney traverses the bridge, I often wondered what lay beyond the arch of the Muslim community in the Metro.
A chance to explore the area finally appeared as this year’s annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk came about. I snapped up the chance to at last see that minaret and signed up for the walk.
It was a gloomy Saturday morning, with storm warnings blaring over the news as over fifty photographers from all over the metro gathered at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo to shoot three of the iconic house of worships in Manila; the Masjid Al-Dahab or the Golden Mosque, the San Sebastian Cathedral, and the San Beda Church.
By eight in the morning, we were filing through the underpass of Calle Hidalgo and were soon heading towards the Muslim Community area. We first stopped at a corner in A. Bautista and met with the Muslim Elder who would be guiding us inside their neighborhood.
Members of the walk also took the opportunity to buy colorful scarves from his store. The ladies were particularly required to have these as they won’t be able to step inside the Golden Mosque without scarves covering their head. I would have shimmied inside and bought one myself, but I only had forty pesos in my wallet and can’t seem to find an ATM to withdraw some cash.
We were hardly inside the community and I immediately noticed that people here dress differently. The place still looked like any area around Quiapo, but it’s the garb people wear that made it different; women wear dresses and shawls, and men wear robes and caps. I find it fascinating, and I’m glad that they’re totally proud of their culture.
The shops where pirated DVD’s were now gone, replaced by stalls selling all kinds of sun glasses. I’m not too sure why there were so many of those stores around the area. The streets were also replete with stalls selling traditional Muslim scarves; giving the area a very colorful palette.
As we proceeded along, we passed several eateries selling Mid-Eastern foods, frequently with Halal printed on their tarps. Halal according to Wikipedia is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to their law.
According to their rules, they must not consume any pork or its byproducts, animals that were already dead before slaughtering, animals that were not slaughtered in the name of Allah, blood and blood byproducts, and alcohol. Halal 101 for me.
Even the streetside carinderias here has a Muslim touch. I was initially wondering what those pouches wrapped in banana leaves were; and my curiosity was rewarded when it was unwrapped by one of the kids having breakfast, it was simply rice! I would’ve loved to sit down and eat along with them but our schedule was pretty tight.
Stores selling dried fishes and vegetable produce were also all over the place as we neared the mosque. The fishes were not the usual tiny dried dangits that I’ve gotten used to, but huge ones with some reaching more than a foot long (priced at almost Php500.00 no less). Spices were everywhere, and I can see that our Muslim brothers are particularly fond of spring onions.
The Globo de Oro Quiapo Muslim Community is actually not that large, and I was a bit surprised that we reached the Golden Mosque in no time flat. Things can only get more interesting as we entered our Muslim brothers’ house of worship.
Map courtesy of Google Maps. Click to view on Google Maps