A day’s shopping in Manila is one of the most fascinating amusements. Having decided this morning that we were too tired to visit school, Peggy and I made out a list and started for the Escolta. A policeman kindly hauled up a cochero for us with the funniest old carromata. I climbed in or rather fell in, gave a helping hand to Peggy, said “Sikki Escolta”, and off we went. First we went to a Japanese store to buy china. Our process was this
“How much is this cup?”
“Sixty cents, mex.”
“Let me see that is thirty American. Well now if we bought two cups would you let us have them for one peso.”
The dame thing occurred with plates, saucers and sugar bowl. We are gradually acquiring the art of peerring, but I want to hide my face every time.
At the Chino store where we ordered our shoes the process of measuring was
so very interesting. It was a little shop, about ten by twelve, filled with Chinos smoking and sewing. We sat down and the Chino cut off a piece of paper about an inch wide. First he measured from heel to toe and made a little tear, then over the instep and made another tear, then over the toes. It won’t be John’s fault if they fit. By the time we finished in the shoe shop and got back on the Escolta it was twelve o’ clock –and there was nothing to do until two. As the Paris Restaurant was near we went there for lunch whicfh was served in a large room with the sliding panels all open, and big punhales waving slowly to and fro. We sat by an open window, looking out over the Bridge of Spain and the Pasig. Going up on the left and back on the right was an endless stream of carromattas and carabao teams, even at the lazy hour of the day. Mixed in among them trotted the Chinese coolies carrying heavy loads of grass, stores or boxes, and Filipinos balancing all sorts of things on their heads. In the midst of it all stood the ever present policeman shouting directions, and inspiring awe with his “billy” and pistol. At intervals we heard the squeals of a toy balloon and the fine street car of Manila trotted by. Three small ponies, two abreast and one in front with a small boy perched on its back drew the tiny car filled with Filipino men.
The Indian stores are most attractive. If by any chance one is so unlucky as to step into one, a smiling Indian walks up with “show you piña, silks, silver, sandalwood?” When you protest that you are just looking around and don’t want to buy he assures you “Oh no buy, just show you” and you yield to temptation. Lucky is he who gets out without buying five or six fans and ornaments which he has no use for.
As we drove through the Calle Sta. Cruz we saw crowds of Chinos on either side watching some sort of procession. The streets were blocked so we were forced to wait and were rewarded by seeing the funeral of one of the wealthiest Chinese in Manila. First walked eight friars in black with white wigs carrying a cross, as this China was a Catholic. Then the hearse, very large with a figure of Father Time in blue and yellow on top, after the hearse came fifty or sixty mourners, in black with broad white bands around their foreheads and over their shoulders, then the carriages, an interminable string of carromatas & quilezes with now anf then a victoria.
Last night we took the mail to the office, and had our first glimpse of the Filipinos in their homes at night. The shops were lighted and people sitting round the light of a cocoanut oil dip. The Escolta was nearly deserted so we left it quicly and drove back along the Malecon Drive and by the Luneta. It made me almost homesick to see the lights of the ships at anchor in the bay.