ALLELUIA, Black Nazarene!!!! A multitude of devotees will be in Quiapo today to pay homage to the Black Nazarene.
I had in the past joined the devotees who wipe the holy image with my hankie, but not anymore. I go there any day before January 9 when there is not yet that swarm of people. And there are so many images within the church and I suppose they provide the same protection and blessings. The horde has become a mob. Why can’t we line up in an orderly fashion along the length of Quezon Avenue and Taft Avenue to have the opportunity to be near the image and express our passion? Why can’t we behave in front of the Black Nazarene? Why do we have to jam the area around the image and the length of the parade? Is this devotion? Will the Black Nazarene in heaven appreciate such chaos in His name? I wonder.
My friends avoided Divisoria, Greenhills and other bargain centers starting November last year. They were morbidly afraid of the perceived crowds that usually do their Christmas shopping there. I have been going to Divisoria regularly since it is just a short distance from my house. I was there several times in December, particularly on the 19th, 21st and 23rd. There was no swarm of shoppers in Divisoria. But you could hardly move around inside 168 and 999 Malls and Recto Avenue from Juan Luna St. and the other streets of Divisoria Market. The reason is the lack of discipline and the greed of store/stall owners.
Greenhills was more organized and the shoppers there are more disciplined. Yet, there was still jostling and shoving as if . . . I don’t know.
Along Recto and the other streets around, one could barely walk without bumping into any of the sidewalk vendors and itinerant vendors. The street was almost closed to vehicles. Chaos abounded.
But there were not that many shoppers. There were more shoppers on an ordinary weekend from January to October when shopping was an exciting and enjoyable experience. This time, it took me an hour to navigate on foot Sto. Cristo Street from Recto to Lavezares Street. It was an ordeal. The problem was the sidewalk and street vendors clogging the street and sidewalk plus delivery carts and delivery men carrying stacks of boxes on their heads or backs, going in both directions, plus a few shoppers carrying bagsful of goodies walking in both directions. I thought there were more sellers (owners and helpers) and deliverymen than shoppers. And when one shopper stops to check out or buy the goods, everybody stops. There is no other space for the other shoppers to continue walking. Then there were trucks from the Manila City Hall trying to clear the roads.
Shoppers and sellers give way but as soon as the vehicle is gone, it is chaos again.
At 168 Mall, it was the same. There is only limited space for one reed-thin person to walk in. The stall owners had extended their areas and were occupying the aisles and what small space is left on the aisles were jam-packed with more stacks of goods in boxes or huge bags. I experimented, and every two stalls I would stop and ask for the prices of their goods and everybody following me or going to the opposite direction would stop. Pity the delivery men with those heavy boxes on their backs or heads. Nobody moved! To each his own. I don’t care, you don’t care, nobody cares for anybody!
So it seemed like there were so many shoppers. Wrong! There were only undisciplined, greedy retailers and uncaring shoppers who didn’t mind if there were people waiting to move on. Mutual respect was sorely lacking.
Okay, prices of goods at Divisoria are really super-duper low. For example, the big and thick adult coloring book, the present choice fad, costs from P90-120 each, depending on your bargaining power. At SM, the exact same product costs P399. But you have to spend lots of time (It took me eight hours just to buy fruits, torotot and adult coloring books and spent more time in people traffic and chaotic situations), lots of patience and lots of perspiration.
If you want to shop in Divisoria at Christmastime, shop early (January-October). The root of all our woes, be it traffic along the streets of Metro Manila or others, is our lack of discipline as a people. We want to always get ahead and we have no patience to wait for our turn. We have no respect for the time and convenience of others; we only think of our own. We cause the problem, yet we complain to no end and we always look for someone else to blame (usually the sitting president).
Possible solution: Let’s contribute to the solution, and not be part of the problem. Let’s practice discipline and respect.
See you in Divisoria and Greenhills for mind-boggling bargains!
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