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The Market in the Morning (An Essay in Photos)

posted by in Food Tripping

fish-vendors_rs.JPG

I think there are two types of people in the world: morning people and those who aren’t morning people. I have always been part of the first group. It doesn’t take me long to get up in the a.m., and once I’m up, I’m up. No need for coffee or even hot chocolate to get me going. Leaving for Baguio at 3 am? I’m there. Breakfast on a Sunday at 7? No problem. I also do my most challenging work in the morning, which includes my routine at the gym and writing my food articles.

At 6 am, I’m working my way into the Guadalupe Public Market. The buses on EDSA wheeze and weave their way through the metropolis’ major highway, every honk from their horns a strident complaint at being up so early. As I enter the market, I leave the cacophony behind and am swallowed up by a gentler buzz and tranquility of people who thrive at what others would call a still-ungodly hour.

buko stand

The first thing I see is this buko stand, and it reminds me of the buko pie that I made not too long ago. Around me, vendors are hacking away at meat, scaling fish, and measuring out instant coffee into mugs along with generous spoonfuls of sugar and Coffeemate. The place is busy but there’s a sense and order to it all.

clams

“Ate, ano yon?” (Literally, “What is it?”) Vendors ask as I approach. Most point out their wares, thick fillets of fish, gleaming shells of mussels, etc. A few vendors ham it up once they see me taking out my camera. “Psst, psst! Pic-tyur!” They exclaim. A bakla, or effeminate man (to put it mildly) even hoists his leg onto the counter and strikes a pose. “Ay, ang ganda ko!” He shrieks when I show him the photo I’ve taken of him.

bading fish vendor hamming it up

seafood lined up with precision

scaling fish without having to look

Filipino humor -- look at the sign
Filipino humor — look at the sign

Here, the fish are so fresh that they’re still jumping about, eagerly gulping their last breaths. The fishmongers are so adept at scaling the tilapia that their eyes are everywhere but on the fish. Clams are squirting seawater from their shells, and the market’s aisles are strewn with large containers of just-caught catch from the sea. This is as close to my food source as I can get here in the city. Some stalls over, seafood like squid and baby crabs are lined up attractively, waiting for the next lucky buyer.

sari-sari store 1

pick and choose spices

Filipinos have a penchant for tingi, or buying just enough for one or a few uses. Here’s an example of a sari-sari store selling everything from peppercorns to vegetables. Right beside it is a stall that sells greens and canned goods, the most popular of which are corned beef and evap (evaporated milk).

selling sugar

varieties of rice

eggs

Other stores sell pre-packaged portions of sugar and rice. And of course my favorite, eggs!

bagoong 1

bagoong 2

Something that I’ve not seen before in other markets is this line-up of assorted bagoong (fish paste) made from fermented small fish (dilis) and tiny shrimps. Each bagoong varies in texture and is suited to specific dishes.

selling notepads at the market

A man passes by me, pads of paper resting on his shoulder. These are the “receipts” that each vendor will give his customer to account for the wares sold. Obviously homemade and bound together with adhesive, these little notepads have a certain charm for me. Each pad with about 250 sheets is selling for only P20!

processed meats

processed meats 2

Ducking into an alley, I come across stalls selling processed meats. I gawk at the tall piles of sliced ham and marvel at the chubby spirals of longganiza (local sausage). An old childhood favorite, fishballs, is packaged in plastic waiting for me to take it home.

bayong 1

bayong 3 and native straw items

I read an article in this month’s Preview magazine (the bible of local fashionistas) that uber designer Louis Vuitton has “upgraded” the local bayong by coming out with his versions in finely braided leather. And just to keep that LV panache, each bayong is boldly stamped with the Louis Vuitton Trunks and Bags logo. Good grief. Does he know how inexpensive a genuine bayong from the palengke is??! Since I have as much interest in fashion as a hotdog would have for a bicycle, I’d rather stick to the original, thanks.

dried, salted fish

One of the best native meals I know is tuyo (salted fish), hot rice, and a sawsawan (sauce) of vinegar, patis, sili (chili pepper), and a touch of toyo (soy sauce). Eaten with tomatoes and chunks of green mango, it spells home. Here, this vendor is selling all the different kinds of dried salted fish I could ever want.

coconuts and the machine used for scraping the meat

sweet potatoes galore

Ah, coconuts! And camote (sweet potato) too, one of my favorite things in the world! Here are the coconuts used to make niyog, or the grated coconut meat that will be squeezed to produce coconut milk and coconut cream.

Filipino rice cakes

It’s been an hour since I got to the market. My stomach is grumbling so on my way out, I stop at a carinderia to buy some kakanin (rice cakes). This will be a good breakfast along with some homemade tsokolate. Going to the market always gets me hungry.

early breakfast
early breakfast

42 Responses to “The Market in the Morning (An Essay in Photos)”

  • I looove kakanin! I love it when my mom goes to the market and brings home all sorts of suman, puto, kutsinta, and other very yummy kakanin.

    Ack! Now for some reason, I want sapin-sapin. hahaha!

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  • That’s just a lovely photo essay. It’s like I can actually hear and smell the market looking at your photos. I particularly like the one of the vendor with his leg up on the counter. =)

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  • Enjoyed your photo essay, makes me feel homesick looking at your photos and imagining the typical market noises and smells. I love going to “wet markets” but I’ve never been to Guadalupe Market despite having lived in Makati for a number of years. Seemed such a pain to get there what with all the buses and jeepneys crowding the area. Always ended up in either in Farmers Market or Baclaran’s Seafood Market.

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  • hmmm.. i never really knew there was a market at guadalupe.. i thought the area near the river was the market for that area..

    i also love going to the local market here in pasig.. lots of things to buy so i make sure i only carry enough money for my budget or else i end up buying a lot of things which i really don’t need.. i also enjoy buying different kakanins from the market but for some reason i stopped buying them.. hehehe.. i still love to buy my fresh produce there sicne i feel it’s where you can buy the freshest catch but unfortunately, i’ve been buying my stock mostly from the groceries.. thanks for sharing the photos.. at least now i know there’s a market somewhere there.. hehehe!!

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  • Nice photos-really reminded me of home…..Ang sarap talaga ng ating mga pagkain, talagang fresh and masarap….Thanks again for the post….

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  • Is it just me or is there something very unusual about Guadalupe market? Everything seems to be stacked so cleanly? The Buko area surprisingly looks clean, the alimasag are arranged in neat rows, the plastic packs of sugar are stacked in an orderly fashion, and so are the niyog for gata, the rice sacks, the tuyo and the kakanin! Amazing. As if someone very OC went around and arranged the stuff the vendors are selling, hehe. I’m impressed.

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  • And one more thing, bilib talaga ako with your photography Lori. I know you can make any food look good, but to make even a Manila wet market look appetizing is something else! =)

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  • nothing beats our “palengkes” and your photo essay just shows why. it’s cool that you featured this.

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  • My only regret is that Guadalupe is too far for me to do my groceries. Wonderful post, Lori.

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  • nice post :D i enjoyed reading it and realized na ang tagal ko na palang ndi nakakasama sa palengke :D enjyo ako mamalengke kasama mama ko

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  • Wow, what a marvelous photo spread. Nothing fails to assault all your senses than a day at the palengke. Great job!

    Maybe you can share some your pictures in our flickr group? The url is
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/marketplaces.
    It would be deeply appreciated. More power to you, and keep the mouthwatering desserts coming!

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  • Thank you, thank you for posting about the Palengke’s in the Philippines. I truly have a genuine passion in going to the Palengkes I just love seeing all the little knick knacks especially the yummy kakanin. I am so excited about our upcoming trip in the Philippines for sure I will be going to the Palengke in Pampanga. I am such an admirer of your very cool website! Makes me feel that I am back home. Your photography skills are outstanding! Malou

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  • That was a pleasant, and fragrant, trip back to my own memory lane. My mother had an office in Guadalupe in the late seventies and as a young boy, I would often accompany her early in the weekends to the palenke. I can still remember the smell of this market’s fresh (and sometimes not so fresh) treasures mixing with the early morning humidity. Not a bad way to start the day.

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  • I do my market at guadalupe and it’s nice to see photos of my “suki” vendors in your website. There’s my shrimp suki, the unforgettable bading where I get my espada, madam auring of the buko section…very amusing indeed. Great feature!

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  • Hi Lori! Oohh I especially love your post about our “palengkes” :) With all the wonderful food and desserts we find in different restaurants and cafes nowadays, it’s still exciting for me to go to the wet markets and supermarkets to get the ingredients myself. I love seeing fruits and vegetables that I never knew existed or see “rare” fish right in front of me out of water (like baby shark! Good thing I didn’t encounter it underwater!). You’re such an inspiration to me!

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  • Great pics LORI. Hope to see more of these photo essays in the future.

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  • Hello Lori,

    This is one of the best articles you created. I grew up in the market in and I always cherrish those days that I spent in the market sa Dagonoy Market, San Andres Bukid, Binan Market, Tanauan Market, Sta. Rosa Market, Calamba Market. Sabi nila mabaho daw ang palengke but you know what? I treasure those moments talaga. Talagang talaga. Now here I am in Los Angeles but sometime I got a local market sa Mexico at pareho din sa atin.

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  • Great article and nice photos…It reminded me of my grandfather whom I used to accompany in the Mercados ( as he would refer to the palengke ).

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  • hi Lori,
    These photos brings so much childhood memories. Growing up in Cainta, and just a trycicle ride away to Cainta Public Market, but most of the time we would travel beyond that and would go to Pasig instead i guess it’s bec of their “tiangge” on the 3rd floor only on saturdays. Now that i love to cook and have a family of my own, bigla ko na-miss ung pagpunta sa palengke. Looking back now im surprise with all the fresh ingredients they offer, be it vegies, seafoods, knick knacks and just about anything is available right infront of our eyes. Although, u can buy most of the stuff here in Toronto at a chinese grocery, iba pa ren ang oRiginal na Palengke sa phils, ung makikipag-tawaran, ung mga mga kids na nagtitinda ng mga plastic bag, and like what u said, u can buy anything in “tinge”! And now i have to promise myself, that next time i come back home, i’ll make sure i pay a visit to our dear old “Palengke”
    Thank u for this onE!
    dhay

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  • A Lovely Photo Essay!

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  • love your pictures! :) cool idea for a photo essay. i could alsmost hear and smell (!) the market! :)

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  • hi
    THANKS THANKS THANKS THANKS…….
    i am really this thankful to you for sharing such wonderful photographs i love visiting markets and especially when i travel i love to go to the local markets and to the supermarkets which sell day to day item , places of historic importance are the next on my list.
    i may never have the opportunity to actually visit this wonderful market but visually and mentally i could and i could see myself moving along the market alleys and having a good time.
    pls continue featuring markets…

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  • Congratulations for being a finalist in the Philippine Blog Awards! You really deserve this honor. Whatever happens, you should be proud of yourself as being nominated was recognition enough, but being a finalist confirms what we think of you – the best.

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  • Strange, I thought I already commented on this post. Anyway, I just want to tell you that I enjoyed this particular post immensely! I love markets, and your photos and writing really brought this market to life. I’ve never been to the Guadalupe market, didn’t even know such an impressive one existed there. Nice job, Lori! :)

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  • Great photo essay! Manila markets are indeed excellent.

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  • Robyn (above) of eatingasia.typepad.com sent me the link to this fantastic photo essay. You covered A LOT in one small post! There’s everything in it from the culture of tingi to the bakla fishwife to the carinderias to the kakanin stalls etc And there’s all sorts of wonderful details within the pictures: you can just make out the ararosip seaweed and the periwinkles in one for instance. Love the decoration of sili and tomatoes in that tub of “dilis-cious” dilis from Lucena!!! Haha

    Richard

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  • thanks for featuring Guadalupe Market where we always buy our food stuff. You forget to go at the pork/ meat/chicken section. Your photos are great especially the area of the kakanins. Great job!

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  • I especially love the 5th photo (from top). The tindera made sure the crabs were displayed with their carapace down to reveal the apron: all females! What a thoughtful – and effective – marketing ploy!

    Fantastic entry, Ms Lorie!

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  • Wow, you are a great writer and photographer. I came across your site via Serious Eats and you can count me among your new admirers. I’m a U.S. born Filipino and am jealous of all the bounty you have at your local markets.

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  • This is what I call “palengke” and your gorgeous photos brought it to life.

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  • Good Job on this Lori! I fell in love with the Palengke hehehe..

    Great layout too :)

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  • Nice photos! all the more that I missed home…. sarap talaga ng food sa tin.. babalik at babalikan ninuman..

    galing galing mo talga ate lori! i really love this site!

    Godbless!

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  • Your post about the palengkes would make any overseas Pinoy homesick. Inspite of the abundance of pinoy groceries here in LA, nothing really beats the palengkes in the Phils. I miss the fresh seafood and of course our local mangoes!!! The top foods to eat when I go back to the Phils? Inihaw na pusit, kinilaw na tanigue and manggang hilaw!!!
    Thank you so much for the fond memories you brought back. I even showed your post to my korean husband…

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  • hello lori!

    im an avid fan of your blog and you know what? your blogs and pictures inspired me to be a food photographer myself :) i don’t know much about photography, lighting and angles but i’m learning :) i bought my own camera to capture my “food moments” and everything in between and now i can’t live without it. i love this “palengke” blog, i never thought that Guadalupe Market has so much in store for a food lover like me. I always wanted to go there but i usually end up at Farmer’s market or at the Salcedo “Saturday Only” Market. Maybe i’ll try to drop by and do my shopping there. thanks! love love it!

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  • one of the reasons i miss home is because of food. reading this blog, i miss home more.

    i love the tingi culture in the philippines. servings and packages here in the US are so big (probably a big factor why obesity is such a huge problem here) that i can’t buy too many different things because they might just spoil. i live alone, so unless i wanna bloat (or be a glutton), i stick with just buying an item or 2, finish them in a week, and off to the grocery again for the next food to eat.

    can’t wait to go home to go to all the restos i find really interesting in your blog, and for some home cooking. although i can cook them here, it’s never the same without the humid, tropical weather. =D

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  • kakanin! love ‘em! :)

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  • I liked your pictures and essay. You made a lot of effort to put this together. It’s wonderful to see how the market looks like nowadays. I have lived here in US and I have travelled to most part of the states in this country. I have never seen this site in any of their market or grocery. I never been home since 1987 hopefully to come home this year. I am amazed how our people have really taken so much care and love for their source of living. I am very proud of their artistic way of making their “tinda” more pleasing to the eye. You should continue writing more and continue your photography you can send them to me and I would love to read them. I hope Lori liked your pictures.

    For hazel hager: Washington State

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  • Lori is my American friend same as your name , I am showing it to her and to my kids too. They never went to Phil. and never seen this site. I thought I would clarify my comment.thanks

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  • I prefer to go to the groceries than in the market place in buying foods or my other needs. Groceries offers no pressure, there’s no unpleasant smell, or any other things that makes me not visit a market place. I hate sticky and dirty place. Anyway, thanks for posting I enjoyed reading your post and the pictueres are nice. I try to go there some other time.

    -krisha-

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  • Hello Ms. Lori,

    The picture story is great, in my childhood my mom and I frequent the market the Paco market to be exact, and really such a joy and fun to go to(you missed the toy stalls of plastic, wood etc. of w/c every child will be wringing your pants or shirt to buy the small lutu-lutuan or kotse kotsehan made in tin cans….

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  • I grew up in Guadalupe and these pictures make me proud, not only of being a Guadalupenan but also for having such rich and exciting culture. Look at the photos: they are real, they are colorful. when I was a little girl, I used to go to the place where the market is now located, and wait with my grandma for the delivery of tuba (coconut wine). We carried the 5 gallon tuba (walking), to Jacinto St. (sa Kanto ng Guadalupe Nuevo), where my grandma operates a tubaan. We used to have a store sa talipapa sa malapit sa kanto (I used to mangoes from Divisoria).My grandpa owned a barber shop and my father owned a tailoring shop sa kanto ng Guadalupe. Thanks for posting the pictures; they are really unique to our culture. They bring back good memories.
    Edita@AirlineTravelersGuide.com

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