The place is not for everybody: Not for those who cannot stand being surrounded by filth and poverty, the constant threat of being pick-pocketed, or worse, being snatched from. But I really love this place, probably not as a residence, but for the fact that you can buy stuff upper middle-class people are interested in, for lower-middle class prices. Yes, I tend to polarize things like that.
Coming from an IT-Related Certification exam from Morayta, what better way to unwind than to hunt for bargain books at Bookworm Paradise. Some interesting tidbits:
- Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes on the sidewalk, sold for 300 bucks. That Much? I think I could buy it cheaper and brand new at National Bookstore. No Deal.
- Boy do they have a lot of pocketbooks. Scour the shops. I kept on seeing Michael Crichton’s Lost World on books that were bundled. And a lot of copies of Animal Farm.
- This conversation ended with me walking away. I had other things in mind to buy. Its a good bargain though: 200 for both Joy Luck Club and Gone with the Wind, pwede na! Me: How Much for Gone with the wind? Guy: 100 (pesos). Me: Hmm, okay, how about this book? *Points at Joy Luck Club, still in good condition* Guy: Saglit lang ah. Magkano ba to? *Asks another seller about the books’ amount* Woman: 150. Me: Hmm……hindi po ba 150 nalang dalawa? (150 for 2 books) Guy: 200 para sa dalawa.. Me: Hindi talaga 150? Guy: *Looks at Woman* Woman: [Anu ka ba] Si Amy Tan yan, ‘no! Apparently these sellers know their Authors. But not all of them though, I think.
Anyway in the book section, I ended up buying classics for 20 pesos, 10 pesos each (Less than a Dollar). Where can you find such great bargains! Only in Recto if you have the patience of looking at each book in bundles like these. Why these books, well, let’s say this blog got me interested in reading Classics, hopefully this time I get to enjoy and understand it (compared to reading it when I was in High School)
Originally though, I wasn’t planning on loading up on books, I was there for something else, to look for a particular shirt. The corner of Quezon Blvd. and Recto (near Quiapo Church) is home to cheap clothing and accessories, though not of the pedestrian type. Mostly you’ll find shirts and accessories worn by those inclined to Rock, Rap and everything in between. And here lies Cartimar’s wonder.
I don’t really know the orgins of Cartimar, as far as I know, there’s a Cartimar Libertad, but I didn’t know there was one in Recto. And I don’t know if Cartimar is a place or a mall either. Just that this place is called Cartimar, and definitely no pets were around.
Compared to the other side of the street where Books populate the place, This side of Recto is for the:
1. Sneaker/Basketball Shoes Freak: Buy shoes, those Sneakers/Basketball Shoes for the cheap. I heard an astounded kid saying: “Uy! Yung bagong Lebron meron na dito” while running to a stall. Yes, I think all of them are here, those Neon multicolored, Bulky Sneakers commonly worn by the hiphop crowd, or maybe just those people who love sneakers. They’re probably not original from the way they’re priced, but if you’re not around nitpickers who cares right?
2. The Hardcore Rock Fan/Musician: Find rare, underground, music CDs. There’s this stall with its walls lined up with CDs (pirated ones) from different, never-heard of, Genres. I saw Swedish-Metal-Core Collection somewhere in there, a Deftones discography CD, and a Policeman talking with the store owner like he’s not carrying Pirated CDs. The stall also had some books related to Musicians (I think I saw a Jimi Hendrix Biography in there somewhere), which looks legitimate. On the other stall they sell Original CDs, at very low prices, of artists you wouldn’t see on record bars nowadays. If I wasn’t reserving my money for something else, I would’ve been able to snag a Regina Spektor CD for just 200. The interesting though is that the owner who mans the stall was a very old guy, and he really seemed very nice and gentle-mannered.
3. Skateboarders looking for a bargain: Skateboard Decals, Skateboards, Caps, Beanies, Bonnets, Skatewear (or whatever you call what skaters are wearing) – they’re all in there.
4. Those who want to get inked: There are a lot of tattoo shops around – with the tattoo artists there being able to service known musicians – as I’ve read somewhere.
5. Street Fashion, or for those who’s just looking for a particular shirt: The shirt shops are pretty much updated with what people are looking for. Before, when bands were popular, each shirt shop would be filled with OPM Band Shirts. I bought my Sandwich Rockers shirt there, a Band Shirt mimicking the Skyflakes logo which a got a lot of compliments from. Ahem. Anyway. Whatever’s popular (with the Skate/Band/Gangsta/Street crowd), they have it. Obey Shirts, Forever Alone Meme shirts, Sapat Langand Boss Balita Shirts, jologs shirts for those who’ll term it as such. They friggin’ have it. There’s a store for Metal Fans. And which is why I went to this place in the first place. I was looking for this particular shirt. Not that I’m really fond of hiphop, just that the shirt looked fun. Plus it had Manila in it.
I’m not sure if I’m able to put my awe in words. It was Street Fashion Mecca – a Cheap Street Fashion Mecca. Its not that place where people with Money or who earn enough will shop. Its a place where teenagers, skaters, hiphop lovers, or probably musicians or artists, with the limited money that they have, will shop. Its not a depressing place which Recto can seem to be, I think the stall owners have a sense of pride in their shops, they might carry second hand stuff, but it is the hard to find second hand stuff that you can’t find anywhere in Manila except here. Its the place where people with limited budgets but still enjoy the skate culture/Different Rock Music run to. There’s a DIY, exclusive vibe to it, and its open to anyone, should they get over the fear and the grittiness of the area.