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Culinary pleasures at the Salcedo Market

It might be the aroma of lechon baka or freshly-baked cinnamon bread – whatever it is, something about the Salcedo Weekend Market in Makati City beckons thousands of shoppers to the metro’s most popular outdoor market every Saturday. The Salcedo market, situated within the Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, offers a welcome respite for mall-weary souls who want to taste and feel something different.
Market day. The Salcedo Weekend Market in Makati is one of the most popular outdoor markets in the metro.
Walking through the market, savvy shoppers will find rare and hard-to-find delicacies and products such as malunggay pesto, milkfish pate, healthy bagoong (not too salty and without chemicals), Himalayan pink edible salt, sprouted nuts and seeds, bamboo towels, tilapia chicharon, and so much more. Locals and foreigners alike flock to the outdoor market, which is open from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Saturday, except during the Holy Week or when there’s a strong typhoon. It is home to 150 merchants—bakers, restaurateurs, handicraft makers, and other entrepreneurs-- with a thousand more still hoping to become a part of the country’s strongest weekend bazaar or “tiangge." Nene Lichauco, head of the organizing committee of the Salcedo Weekend Market, recalls that the market started with only 27 merchants in 2004 as a project of Barangay Bel-Air, which she chaired at that time. The huge success of the weekend market came as a surprise to the organizers. “We didn’t expect it to last six years," Lichauco says.
By the looks of it, the Salcedo Weekend Market will be around for many more years. Approximately a thousand merchants are on the barangay’s waiting list, hoping to peddle their goods in Salcedo, she adds. Lichauco says the merchants are carefully chosen based on the quality and uniqueness of their products. The organizers themselves do the food-tasting and pick the products that stand out because they are original, home-made, or represent specialty items from the regions or provinces. Lichauco explains that the Salcedo Weekend Market is a non-profit project, with the merchants paying only around P700 per day to help defray the cost of maintenance, tent rentals, security, and others. Malunggay pesto and bamboo towels Carlitos Abello, owner of Pinoy Or-durvz Foods, says he and his wife were one of the first merchants to join the weekend bazaar. They have maintained the same booth for the past six years.
Pinoy Or-durvz. Owners Carlitos and Ronah Abello sell specialty food you won't find in the grocery.
The Abellos sell specialty bottled food such as malunggay pesto (P105, 4 oz. jar); milkfish pate (P85, 4 oz. jar); Tamban fish in olive oil (P120, 8 oz. jar); healthy bagoong in olive oil (P110, 8 oz. jar); air-dried beef tapa (P190, 10 oz. jar); chilli garlic oil (P85, 4 oz. jar); tofu adobo (P125, 8 oz jar), and chilli con carne (P168, 10 oz jar). Arthur Ty Tanco Jr., owner of the Chlorophyll booth, says he sells natural and healthy products as a way of sharing his personal interests. He says he is passionate about healthy and green living. “What I’ve learned from a doctor is that normally we should be able to live 120 years but at the end of the day we actually kill ourselves with the way that we eat, with the things that we do to our bodies. All these things do affect our lives and our longevity. By putting what is natural into your body, you are actually preserving your body. You are giving your body the proper care it needs," Tanco says.
Eco-friendly. Chlorophyll owner Arthur Tanco explains that bamboo towels are more absorbent than cotton.
Some of Tanco’s products are live wheatgrass (P120 per tray); fresh wheatgrass shot (P75 per ounce); broccoli sprouts (P100 per tray); radish sprouts (P100 per tray) unsweetened almond milk (P180, 500 mL bottle); bee pollen (P300, 100 mL bottle); Himalayan pink edible salt (P195 per jar), and bamboo towels (P1,200 for a set of three towels). “Bamboo is very sustainable, the fastest growing plant in the world. It can grow four feet in one day. When you chop down one pole, the plant continues to grow. As you produce fabrics from it you’re not destroying the environment. The advantage of bamboo towels is that it’s three times more absorbent than cotton and it’s naturally anti-microbial," he explains. Organic herbs and tea mugs Aside from native and foreign delicacies and healthy supplements, organic plants and flowers are also very popular at the Salcedo market.
Go green. Liven up your home with organic plants.
Delia Bacon, who sells house plants and trees, says fruit-bearing trees and herbs are very popular among households nowadays. Her organic herbs are reasonably-priced at P100 for three pots of herbs. Leah Dumatol says locally-grown flowers are very popular among foreigners. She sells roses at P150 to P180 per dozen, orange lilies at P160 per stem, and other flowers (such as stargazers, mums, anthuriums, and sunflowers) from P80 up per bundle.
Pretty cups. Serve tea in style with these ceramic mugs.
Shoppers were also crowding around a booth selling ceramic house wares and food servers. Dunn Dy, of DST General Merchandise, says their booth was set up mainly to promote the items their company manufactures in China. He says white food servers and plates are very saleable to locals and foreigners but their most popular item are the tea mugs which sell at P150 per set. These mugs are sold at P250 per set in malls. Just like home One weekend shopper, Maria Mardon, a Briton who works at the British Embassy Manila as a personal assistant to the Ambassador, says she has been coming to the Salcedo market for three years now. She comes to the market mainly for the sugar-free breads and crepes that are not too sweet to the taste. She likes the atmosphere in the market and enjoys the friendliness of the people. Her only complaint is that she sometimes gets ripped off. “They try to sell things to me at a higher price because I’m white. From the corner I saw something that was P50 but when I tried to buy it, it was P100. That annoys me. I’ve been living here for three years but I have to pay a lot more," Mardon complains. Nonetheless, French shopper Jean finds the Salcedo market “very nice, it reminds us quite a lot of what we have in France. It’s very similar, the set-up under the trees, the tent, it’s a very friendly atmosphere." Meanwhile, Fil-Am teacher Chris says he comes to Salcedo market for the food, “just walking around and trying different kinds of cuisine." He teaches at De La Salle University and lives in Vito Cruz, Manila but he enjoys going to Salcedo because it reminds him of the flea markets in California. “It reminds me of home," he says. – YA, GMANews.TV All photos by Riz Pulumbarit