April 14, 2010
Malatapay Market (Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental)
I read from an old edition of Lonely Planet book that Zamboanguita is famous for 2 things: First, it's the jump-off point for world reknown dive spot, Apo Island. 2nd, Wednesday is the popular Malatapay Market, 40 minutes by jeep, south of Dumaguete. It's supposed to be a big event that even tour operators add that in their itinerary. Today's a Wednesday and hoping not to come too late, I skipped my morning meditation and workout. I was off to experience the Malatapay Market.
In a conversation with the jeepney driver, I was told that the market scene has diminished slightly since El Niño. Some crops have failed due to the intense heat and dryness. However, since it's also the jump-off to Apo Island, it continues to be popular with foreign and local tourists.
Hustle and Bustle
Upon arrival, what caught my attention was the hustle and bustle. They don't only sell produce and fresh meats, but also live cattle, carabaos, goats and pigs. There's no public auction. It seems deals are closed by eye contact and whispers. The veggies and fruits were fresh-harvest and the seafood selection ranged from small dried fish to shark meat. There were huts providing hot-off the wood-burning stove dishes like squid, calderetta, pakbet, etc.
Cut From the Same Cloth
I saw a group on mountain bikes. I was a mouse attracted to cheese. Not long after, we were chatting about Dumaguete's secret wonders (not on travel books) and must-do things. I was also extended an invite to dive Apo Island with them this weekend...cool!
I have a thing about street markets or markets in general (flea markets, street fairs, farmers' market, etc.). When in a new place, I always check out the market scene...even if I don't buy anything. There's something about the rawness of markets that draws me in. And they seem to have a commonality everywhere - Carouge in Geneva, New York's weekend street fairs (where I worked for a month mixing the lumpia ingredients), New Jersey's Englishtown, Salcedo Village Sunday Market, Sagada's Saturday market, (no, not Farmer's Market in Cubao...that doesn't cut it)...common people living off the land (well, maybe not Salcedo Market), doing an honest day's work...or at least that's how I romanticize it. Malatapay Market? Sure, it certainly fits the bill.
- Come early. They start in the early morning hours and end up around 11am.
- Haggle. It's expected.
- While you're there, check-out the boat rates/schedule for Apo Island.
- From Dumaguete, take a trike and ask to get off at the jeep terminal to Malatapay Market (it's near Robinson's Plaza). From there, it's a 40-minute, P20 jeep ride to Malatapay.
(Apr 15, 2010) This is where I ate the tastiest lechon I've had so far.
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