Quiapo district in the Philippine capital Manila has always been a hub of commerce and a centre of piety among Filipino Catholics.
It is home to shops that offer low prices and to the centuries-old image of the Black Nazarene, which is housed in a church in the middle of a busy marketplace.
Unbeknown to many, how-ever, it is also a centre of inter-faith understanding, of living in tolerance of two major faiths in the country.
Early one June morning, a group of 25 Christians gathered at a small eatery that serves halal food.
While eating bread and drinking tea the visitors listened to a Muslim woman talk about culture, bridging religious under-standing and cultural exchange among peoples.
Then they went out to explore Quiapo’s “Muslim town,” a place in Manila that is often perceived as a “dangerous and dark place.”
Ann Marie Cunanan, one of the promoters of the tour, admitted that even those living around the area would advise visitors not to enter the Muslim community.
“We want to change that perception,” said Cunanan, who is from the southern Philippine city of Davao.