Culture

Today is Market Day

Tuesday is market day in Estancia. Growers come in from the mountains to trade their vegetables for fish, and anyone who can sell anything joins them by lining their wares along the streets, alcoves and market entrances.

A woman and her son in a bamboo stall selling bananas and tiny limes known locally as calamansi. A man wandering barefoot through the mud carrying two plastic jerry-cans of water. Tables lined with native sweets, bright coloured cakes, and rum bottles filled with fresh honey. Stacks of pirated DVDs under a crowd of youths. A man on a mat  scattered with garlic.

Children spot me (a foreigner) and demand money. I tell them in their native tongue, “no” and  “go to school”, the women behind the cakes and honey nod their agreement. Shrieking suddenly, they notice one of the boys trying to steal from their table who quickly runs off.

My home-brung shopping bag (slung over my shoulder) fills with dried fish, native rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves, six little calamansi limes, a bunch of tiny bananas, and four fat mangosteens. My other hand clutches a glass jar full of fresh coconut water. I crouch in front of woman selling gorgeous little ferns and buy two. At home later I realise they were probably pulled from the rainforest.

little ferns for sale in the market philippines

Jerry arrives from school for lunch break, thrilled to see the little plants.

“Is that mine Tita Mel?” he asks in excitement.

“Yes Jerry,” I reply, “I bought them for you.”

Three men transfixed by ‘Noah’s Ark’ on a portable DVD player as business walks by.

© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine


battered market in estancia
It stopped raining today. Can you imagine market day in the rain?

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