Nengkoy and the Provincial Wet Markets

Every time the family would go out of town, Nengkoy never fail to drop by at a town’s wet market to purchase the local produce of the province.  She would buy vegetables from kalabasa to ampalaya.  She would buy herbs and spices from bawang to sili.  She would buy fish from bangus to tuna.  She would buy meat from longganisa to bulalo.

This practice of Nengkoy always makes me fumingly irritated.  I always thought that this is such a waste of time since all the things that Nengkoy buys are actually available in Manila supermarkets.  This makes the journey back to Manila a very long and tiring process.  Nengkoy’s inevitable practice would eventually physically drain and wear out everyone not only because of the long ride home but also of the corporeal necessity of either waiting furiously or going around the busy wet market, carrying all the purchased stuff and fixing everything inside the car.

One classic example was our ride home from Manaoag, Pangasinan.  Before leaving Manaoag, me and Nengkoy went out of the church yard to buy bags of Calasiao rice cakes and the native “tupig”.  When we reached Villasis, Pangasinan, she instructed Kuya Willie to make sure to park the car at Villasis public market for she wants to buy stuffs for her kitchen stocks.  At this point, I tried to compose myself, control my tantrum and eventually agreed on stopping for I wanted to light a cigarette.  in due course, she bought kilos of the following produce: onions, garlic, squash, bitter gourds, Dagupan milk fish, cucumbers, broccolis and leeks – as if these perishables are either extinct or are hard to find in Manila.

After the tedious haggling for a cheaper price (which by the way Nengkoy is an expert of), carrying the heavy loads and fixing everything inside the van, the whole family continued its journey back home to Manila.  During the course of the journey, only then that I realized that Nengkoy’s habit is actually a good thing.

It is a good thing for it provides opportunity for folks in the provinces to earn and be able to sell their products even though they are miles away from the busy metropolis.  It is a good thing for it provides them income that would pay for their everyday needs.  It is a good thing because it enables provinces to receive a portion of the economy’s pie.  Nengkoy’s practice help disperse wealth and money to the outskirts of Metro Manila and not just to the bank account of either Gokongwei’s supermarkets or Henry Sy’s super malls.

This is such an enriching realization.  Thus, next time Nengkoy would go out of town and would like to stopover and buy some stuff, I would just shut my big mouth and try to enjoy the experience.

Sige palengke kung palengke! Go!

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