Saturday, July 11, 2009
The market place.
Yesterday morning I woke up at 4 AM to go with my neighbor to a wet market. She told me about this certain market which is open only during the early morning, where food seller from nearby city come to buy their daily stock at prices half of any other market.
When we got there, I saw a bustling market. The place overflowed with activity as people gears up for another day. Other seller spill out onto the street, and parked vehicles take up a lane off the road. Jeepneys stream by, slowing down just long enough for people to jump off carrying their baskets.
Exploring the market is an assault on the senses. I start off with a bang in the meat section and my eyes were stunned by row of freshly killed pigs lying split open and spread-eagle on tables. My ears can hear the chomp-chomp sound of shirtless men, knife holster strapped to their waist, hacking at bone with their razor sharp knives and slicing the dead pigs into pieces. It's an orgy of bloody body parts everywhere. Pigs head, all with the same anguished expression are piled on top of one another. Intestines, giant livers, stomach and legs hang from hooks.
The icing on the cake as far as the senses go is the smell. The sense of smell tells you that what you are seeing and what you are hearing is all very real. In the meat section, a harsh and rank smell of blood and flesh fills the warm air.
In the fish section, the bountiful catch of every kind of fish imaginable is on display.Long skinny fish, big fat fish, colorful fish, are all inside tubs of ice water.The water spills onto the ground making walking a bit perilous (was it why it's called "wet market"?).
Around me people, many of whom, carries bucket filled with fish jostle for space in the narrow lane and it is difficult to tell who is selling and who is buying. Amidst all the sellers, other people walk up and down peddling everything from rice cakes, coffee, plastic bags, fresh pancakes, towels, and many more.
Next I walk over to the friendliest and most colorful area: fruits and vegetables. My country has the most incredible amount of fruits and vegetables you will ever see. Different kinds of eggplants, shredded bamboo shoot, several varieties of potatoes, white and purple onion, thick orange carrots, squash, pumpkins, cabbage, tomatoes, yellow banana, green banana, leaves of banana, trunk of banana trees, piles and piles of ripe green water melon, bright yellow mangoes, bundle of white garlic and other spices. The selection made me realize how resourceful we Filipinos are. Everything has a use in my country and absolutely nothing goes to waste.
My bag, now heavy with fresh food and daybreak coming, I walk through the mass towards the parking area. I listen to the sounds. Indeed, market have such a great sounds - people haggling over prices, sellers barking, people shuffling and running from place to place.
It is the sound of life at its core!
There is nothing high tech here. It is just people bringing the food to the people, who will then bring it to the rest of every household table. Market places are the pulse of every city.
As the darkness heads towards dawn, the action of the market mixes with the now waking city. The day's first streak of light appears in the sky.
I stare once again at the awfulness around me. It made me realize that amidst the squalor and loneliness of the city night there is life.
There is bounty.
And with it Manila gets set to explode in its daily frenzy.