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Palengkera: my route

This is the path my footsteps trace almost automatically when I go to the market. I start at the foot of the hill where the flower stalls are lined up. I squeeze through jeeps and cars waiting bumper-to-bumper for the traffic to ease forward inch-by-inch. I stop for rosal, not in the flower stalls where wreaths are prepared for funerals and celebrations, but with the manangs who set up their flower stands on the road, just beside the exit of the Marbay parking building. Then I walk across from the rosal manangs to my meat suki, where I buy pork or beef. From there I go deeper into the meat section and take the slippery, perpetually wet steps down to the seafood and chicken section. Here I have a suki for chicken. But all she sells is magnolia chicken. Today I came across a woman who was selling freshly butchered and dressed broiler chickens. She caught my attention when she called out, “Bagong katay po ito. Hindi galing sa freezer!” Next time, I will buy my chicken from her. I don’t have a suki for seafood. I’m not very good at cooking fish. Once in a while though, if I’m lucky I’ll chance upon some live shrimp, or the miniscule ipon, or some succulent seaweed. These finds I never pass up. If I am making sinigang, then I stop by the manang on the edge of the seafood and chicken section and get my sampaloc or kamias from her. If I am making tinola, then I buy the greens from her. It dismays me that in some other market stalls Knorr sinigang mix is sold right next to the fresh ingredients. I choose not to buy anything from those stalls. From there, I walk down to the vegetable section. I begin in the back area, where the tobacco shops are. In that alley I sometimes buy orange camote, which is the best there is. This is the alley where I usually get tomatoes, onions, okra, malunggay, kangkong, gabi, sili, and bananas. Occasionally a jacket or a dress hanging in the secondhand clothes shops here catches my eye and if the fit and price are right, I add an item of clothing to my market basket. If I need to buy coffee, then I proceed towards the hangar and get a blend of Benguet, Kalinga, and Barako beans from the Garcia’s shop. On the way there, passing through the alley where they sell niyog and all the ingredients for guinataan, I daydream about my ginataan-filled childhood. Somtimes I stop here to buy pandan to put in our rice. They also sell fine muscovado from Ilocos in this alley. After getting my coffee, I head back down to the rice section to pick up some bigas. This is also where I usually get delicious suman and other kakanin from the ambulant vendors. Then I proceed to the “tourist” vegetable section. Soemtimes I make a short detour to the right to buy ten pesos worth of basil from the manangs who are constantly sorting piles and piles of fresh herbs: basil, wansuy, chives, oregano. They also sell lettuce. In the “tourist” section, I buy fruits like oranges, mangoes, avocados, melons, passion fruit. Always whatever’s in season, and except for green apples for apple pie or wonderfully sweet lychees almost never the imported stuff. Then I head to Manang Lilian’s to get special tofu, lemons, mushrooms, young corn, garlic, marble potatoes, celery, bell peppers, and other beautiful vegetables. A few stalls down from hers, is a stall where I am always drawn to the cherry tomatoes and the exorbitantly-priced bundles of pungent rosemary. Manang Lilian also sells a good tapuy, and has wonderful Chinese sausages too. Once in a while she even has Chinese sausage made from goose. Mamang Lilian’s is usually my last stop. From there I work my way to the edge of the market, sometimes with a good five to six kilos of food in my backpack. This weight is a blessing that lifts my spirits each time I go to the market.


resty said…
padma, makes me feel glad to be living in baguio and in t alonzo, everything within walking distance.. did you buy some patupat?...thanks about the muscovado, should try that one of these days, watching my blood sugar kasi... just curious, what coffee maker do you use? keep on writing :)
kubiyat said…
i am imagining fresh green pechay and plump calamansi and bright pink susay. we're lucky we have a market that's so alive :)
padma said…
Manong Resty, glad you enjoyed reading this. I just love our market so much. I use a french press. Those thingies with a plunger, but mine is stainless steel and not glass.
padma said…
You said it Kubi! Alive, alive!
Unknown said…
Haynaku! Market with all the uncollected garbage and the mud! Heaven! But bakit mo naman binuking ang ating suki ng cherry tomatoes?
padma said…
Frank, so more people will appreciate cherry.

Tomatoes, that is.
resty said…
hello padma, hope you don't mind but would you know if acai is available in the market?
padma said…
So far, Manong Resty, I haven't come across acai. But now that you mention it, I'll start asking around. Who knows? Somebody might have it!
resty said…
Thanks padma :)

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