Carriedo Nostalgia
IN MY BASKET - Lydia Castillo () - December 28, 2003 - 12:00am
Whenever a year ends, there is always nostalgia. We always look back to what happened the past twelve months, give thanks for the beautiful memories, learn from our mistakes and get over what made us sad or disappointed. A few days ago, we went to Carriedo, supposedly now a shoppers’ paradise where some order was announced to have been put in place. It was a nostalgic trip, because Carriedo and Escolta were the two main shopping areas some years ago. Shoemart made its initial mark in Carriedo. Hopia and Chinese ham were sold off Carriedo (in Echague), and Quinta market, only a few paces away, was where ladies, doing their palengke chores, relished pancit, menudo, puto and dinuguan in carinderias in one section of the market. The hub, in effect, was along Carriedo.

Today, Carriedo is still how we remember it–magulo, teeming with people, but vehicles are no longer allowed to run through it. One either gets off at Carlos Palanca (that’s the old Echague) and navigate the sidewalk full of vegetable vendors (one selling prunes at a price higher than in a supermarket) or immediately walk up SM (which is how it is called now) and proceed to Carriedo from Estero Cegado. But this is hazardous, because the jeepneys, cars and even cargo trucks plus reckless tricycles ply this small street to go around and end up on Rizal Avenue. The street has been converted into a pedestrian market. Permanent stalls are housed under galvanized roofing, but since it is the Christmas season, we guess that municipal officials don’t have the heart to drive away the sidewalk vendors.

Under the bridge, business goes on as usual among those who sell baskets and native trays. People who live in the South need not go to Mayon or Divisoria since the prices here are practically the same. You don’t really bargain because in most of the stores, prices are fixed. But go around and if you are lucky you can get P3 off what you intend to buy, like we did for small rattan baskets. The native trays are more expensive, from P60.

The market is still dirty. Small vendors peddle fish by the tumpok on the street. We actually were disappointed upon seeing Carriedo and the streets criss-crossing it. From press releases we imagined a neat shopping area, but it is not. However, we did not reach the mall by the church; had we gone that far, it could be another story. Still, there is a lot more to be done there to make it attractive to shoppers. Likewise, perhaps attention should also be focused on the wet market. If Marikina and Santa Rosa (Laguna) can clean up their markets, why can’t Manila?

The Year 2003 went very fast. Four days before the New Year, we–and surely most homemakers–look back to a period that tried our most creative energies with regard to our food budget. Gas prices went up so many times, Meralco unsatisfactorily explained the PPA charges which, while unbundled in the face of adverse public opinion, still did not decrease our monthly bill. Cost of fresh produce (onions are at P53 a kilo again) and seafood were on the rise. How can one afford P480/kilo prawns on an ordinary day? Even patane is priced by the pod! Galunggong has gone gourmet. And the declared national fish, tilapia otherwise known as St. Peter’s fish, hovered so many times from P70 to P90 a kilo. Squid, which shrinks much in size when cooked, has gone up to P160 a kilo, depending on which market one goes to. Chicken went to P93 a kilo.

There were occasional bargains. Up until about two weeks ago, ground pork could be bought at less than P100 a kilo in some outlets, and beef went for less than P140 a kilo. The prime cuts, however, in some high-end stores are almost sinful to buy.

As we welcome the Year 2004, among our wishes are that the scheduled January increase in power rates would be abated, that traffic would ease up so we can save on gas, and that life will change for the better.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! Do not lose hope!

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