Teach the Public
IN MY BASKET - Lydia Castillo () - June 30, 2002 - 12:00am
The Mayor of Manila has thankfully started cleaning the Plaza Miranda area and successfully organized sidewalk vendors into two rows on each side of Villalobos Street, thus ridding the street of the mess that it was before. The thing is, the tinderas claim to have lost about 40 percent of their usual earnings per day, not because they are now paying rent (for space and ID) of P40 a day, but because the buying public has thinned out. Reason? Shoppers prefer the merchandise "nakalatag" (spread out) on the street! We find this very strange, unless the people who market there are under the impression that they would be charged more. It is now time to teach the public about being organized, neat and hygienic, even in the markets. Vegetables and fruits etc. are likely to get the dreaded bacteria when laid out on the street. Besides, it is more comfortable, since one would not have to stoop to get what one needs to buy.

We went through the whole length of Villalobos, buying beautiful red tomatoes (P30 a kilo), firm red onions (P40 a kilo) which are actually a few pesos more expensive than in the supermarkert. They still go by the tumpok. Three tinapang galunggong sell for P20, sayote at P10, carrots and bitter gourd (ampalaya) also at P10, patola (small) at P8. There is a wide selection of merchandise in this strip, such as pots and pans, plastic plates with colorful prints, powdered beverage in plastic bags (P60 a kilo) and even the very popular and ubiquitous batik lounging dresses, blouses, skirts and shorts.

Only a few steps away is Quiapo (Quinta) market, but we did not venture into it, seeing that it was still filthy and one would have to wade through stagnant water. Fish vendors were still on the street. The Mayor should perhaps focus his attention on this area so Quiapo will again be customer-friendly.

Carriedo also needs looking into. There are two layers of vendors, the ones in the stores and those on the sidewalk. When we asked the latter why they were not among those in Villalobos, one young lady said they were not among the ‘chosen’ ones. Passing this street would certainly not be complete without a stop at Excellente ham. We got some of their popular items; ham, of course (from P300 plus to P500 plus) and the new tocino (P48 for 1/4 kilo).

The bonus of this visit to Quiapo was that we found the giant steamer (45 cms in diameter) we have been searching for. If you want to save money on kitchenware, this is the place to go. We paid P740 for the steamer and a sister got a Chinese wok with cover for P240.

Back to Alabang. These days being so humid and hot we filled our basket with some of Nestle’s new products–Milo Scoop Shake (P19), Turbo Melon Twist (P11), Malties Cone (P15), the donut shaped Woppo Banana Choco pop-on stick (P15). There are more but we settled for those for the moment.

If you find seasoning your seafood and meat with plain salt and pepper (plus occasionally calamansi juice) boring, here is good news. ShopWise in Alabang has a new selection of powdered seasonings. There is McCormick’s Lemon and Pepper (P467.75 a bottle of 765 gms) which you can use for fried fish and grilled meat. Likewise there is the US brand Johnny’s Garlic Spread (P477 for 512 gms), which has the Mediterranean garlic taste with oregano, basil and parsley, which can be used for dressings, dips, pasta and even sautéing meat and seafood. Don’t worry about the cost, since each bottle will last you a long time. We found the scarce big Magnolia chicken (more than 1.6 kilos) at ShopWise in Makati, at P88 a kilo.

Quezon City residents searching for a new place for Asian fusion cuisine might want to visit the newly opened Zong Restaurant on Mayon Street, off Retiro. Basically serving Chinese fare (without MSG), diners can also have Singapore Chili Fish Fillet and other Malay dishes. The place is done in art nouveau style, with low backed bench chairs, light colors and gracious staff. The lady who manages the restaurant is the inventor of the popular Pares food, which has been copied all over the city.
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Lydia D. Castillo’s e-mail address: inmybasket@skyinet.net

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