Monday, July 22, 2013

Murti Shopping in Manila Markets

Golden Tara.

I made a visit to the Saturday Market at Escolta, a monthly bazaar set up by a collaboration of artists who call themselves 98B. It was held at the beautiful yet deteriorating Perez-Samanillo building and is part of an effort to revive this historical corner of Manila. Used to be a high street shopping district in the 60's, now totally rotting, run-down, and teeming with beggars and seedy, ugly people.

The market was filled with the weird and wonderful: 80's vintage, bamboo amplifiers, home-made robots, 50-peso watercolor portraits, bone pipes, and lots of affordable art works. There was one bardic chap who was selling stories for 20 pesos. It was quite hip and bohemian, and for some reason I am reminded of Neil Gaiman's novel "Neverwhere". While I was rummaging through stuff, a few shoppers suddenly burst into song singing a medley of 90's Filipino hits. It turns out that they are performance artists, and after the song they performed some story about an electric fan. Weird. I love it.

 Saturday Market at Escolta.

It was tough to decide what to spend my weekend money on but as luck would have it, I found a replica of the Srivijaya-era golden Tara found in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. I finally have a Filipino deity on my altar! The seller told me a longish story about its history and archaelogical significance and stuff, but really, dude, just take my money. Pagan friends went green with envy as soon as I instagrammed a photo of it.

On Sunday, I met up with Aldrin and Jonathan to shop for some deity statues in an arcade in Dapitan. We've heard from friends that there's great bargain to be found here. True enough, the arcade looks like a treasure trove of Christmas giveaway ideas. It was a total feast for the eyes: Buddhist statues, kokeshi dolls, replicas of Rococo paintings, antique santos and Egyptian relics. Unfortunately it was sorely lacking in Greek statuary, which my Neokoroi friend was hoping to buy. All was not lost though as we have found a very nice looking figurine of Avalokitesvara-Guan Yin and a ceramic portrait of Lakshmi, Sarawati and Ganesh, both for just a measely one thousand pesos. We're hoping to come back after a few pay days to buy some more.

Knick-knacks at the Dapitan arcade.


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