Quiapo, All Souls’ Day
By Filipina Storytellers Little Wing Luna (photos) and TheMitch Meñez (text)
Quiapo shines in these dark times.
A light to lead the souls home.
A candle to guide their way to an eternal rest.
Wax and wicks used for the now rare blackouts in the metro, parade themselves in a fashion show of color and style.
In a street the chic are unaware of, the devoted converge to purchase a length of light to lead their loved ones home.
You turn a corner and the lights die down.
The faint glow of the flickering yellow wicks on fire give way to a delightful rainbow of scents.
A different sense altogether.
The smell makes you take a step back.
It is arresting and interesting at the same time.
The smell lures you in.
It reminds you of a sampaguita vendor.
It reminds you of a wedding bouquet.
It reminds you that it is November.
Quiapo emits an unfamiliar odor when All Souls’ Day approaches.
The canals are filled with petals instead of refuse.
The vendors are solemn instead of eager.
There are prayers in the perfumed air.
The scent, a sillage of a garden in bloom, just like the orchids your grandmother used to grow.
Little Wing Luna drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney. She shoots, too.
TheMitch Meñez is always away. Never still. Still looking for herself.