I went to Recto Avenue in Manila last Saturday to buy second hand textbooks for my daughter's schooling. I have been doing this for three years and the effort saves me about fifty percent of the costs compared to brand new textbooks offered by the school.
One thing I notice is that the place does not change. It's the same old faces and the same tables and scattered on the sidewalks with assortments of products on display.
|Photo by junbrioso|
The same floor mats and chairs where people are sleeping oblivious to the pedestrians and the vehicles gassing them with carbon monoxide. In fact, these street dwellers and vendors have adapted so well with the environment that they have started to look like old jeepneys, hair matted and every crease and line in their faces are lined with soot from exhausts' fumes from vehicles.
The buildings are already condemned yet it is teeming with tenants and wares. It's the same shops with antique worn out signage and printing equipment that any museum would love to have. .
The same ambiance, that of age and decay and and also that of vibrancy and youth. Observe when you walk along the sidewalks of Recto, you will notice that the old are on the sidewalk sitting on lounging chairs looking old and dead while the middle part are full of activities from young college students walking, talking,laughing, and fidgeting with their gadgets.
|Photo from Philippine Inquirer|
I was walking along the side walk when people approached me unabashedly offering their services for forged licenses, diplomas, receipts and other documents. This is what Recto is famous for, forged documents. I don't know how this trade has not been stopped by the authorities. Its all there in the open, advertised and with not even an iota of effort to secrecy.
Well, if you ask them these forgers would tell you that they are doing great service to the Filipino people because they provide job opportunities for the poor who cannot afford a college education.
I was tempted to buy an M.A. in English or a Ph.D. in educational management diplomas but thought better of it because people may start wondering: "How in the world did you get an MA and a PhD when you can't even make your verb agree with your subject?"
Anyway, I got the books and went home. The temptation was too much.