The Philippine Wet Market: Allure beyond Mud and Personal Space

The wet market is a landmark in every town in the Philippines. It is where mothers, fathers, cooks, maids and anyone needing fresh ingredients buy their produce. Almost every household need, from food to clothes to school supplies to utensils and small appliances, the wet market has them all. The wet market is timeless: the old ways rarely change. The markets open at three or four in the morning when the fresh produce of the day gets delivered, or “bagsakan” as they call it. Pig and cow legs still hang on hooks in meat supplier’s stalls together with tripe, head, tongues and prime cuts. Fresh fish are gutted and cleaned for buyers, vegetables are charged right to the guhit (exact weight) and the place is jolting noisy. A happy noise; the noise of commerce.

The wet market is taken for granted, yet it is an essential part of the Filipino life. Even with grocery giants competing and opening strategic branches the wet markets stay a staunch institution. Perhaps it is the impression of groceries being commercialized and therefore more expensive. Perhaps because produce are sold packaged; one who has been taught to check freshness through touch and smell will have doubts. The markets are familiar, connected to the community’s pulse. The people are at times rude and some try to cheat, but most are generally helpful.

Most markets are cramped and needless to say wet. Buyers should be prepared to squeeze along crowded aisles full of buyers haggling over prices with sellers. This is also one of the best things about the wet market: you can canvas for the best produce and haggle down the price. Some shoppers see haggling as a kind of sport: the one who gets the best bang for the buck wins. However there is an unspoken rule when haggling: if you haggle for the price you want and the seller capitulates, you should buy the item. Don’t haggle for something if you are unsure of buying it. The seller has already gone out on a limb to give the lowest price possible, so don’t leave them hanging.

Divisoria Market is one of the oldest and one of Manila’s most popular wet markets. There are rows upon rows of stalls to buy from. Divisoria Mall, located within the market compound is the go to destination by anyone looking to save big on textiles, gowns, barongs, home fixtures, costume jewelry, clothes, shoes and others. The Christmas season shopping is notorious; starting early October up to thousands of people are shopping there at a single time.

The place is also teeming with pickpockets. As a precaution, one’s belongings should be watched over carefully. Bring only the essentials: money for buying, a face towel just in case it gets hot (it will), rubbing alcohol to disinfect your hands before you eat anything and your eco-friendly reusable shopping bag to carry your purchases. Put your wallet in a shoulder bag with a zipper and divide your money into at least two and keep them in separate places in your bag. Take out credit cards and important identification cards from your wallet just in case it gets stolen. Don’t leave your shopping bag or even put it down beside you without watching it: it will get stolen.

But: don’t let the previous paragraph intimidate you, the wonderful buys and bargain prices more than make up for the precautions you have to take!

Arranque Market along Soler Street in Manila is known for its offerings of uncommon produce and exotic animals. Need to buy fresh frog legs or tasty beltfish? Or looking for that cute pink toe tarantula to jump into your heart? Arranque market is where you’ll find them all. The pets section of the market also sells dogs, cats, rabbits, and aviary livestock.

Farmers Market in Cubao is a Quezon City shoppers’ favorite. It is in front of the Smart Araneta Coliseum and Gateway Mall. It is very accessible with good parking options. It is along EDSA bus routes and commuting accessibility to the MRT and LRT Cubao stations. The only thing that shoppers will complain about is the perpetual traffic along EDSA and the number of people taking the trains.

Suki Market along Dapitan Street boasts of food stalls that have wonderful cooked Chinese and Filipino foods. Some stalls also sell Japanese sushi served on different sizes of bilao, flat woven circular trays made from bamboo. Fresh produce are also available, but if you find yourself just wanting to eat, you can buy delicious chili and scallion crab, Chinese style roast pork leg, lemon chicken, tongue adobo and other mouth watering entrees. Plus, beside it across the road is the Dapitan Arcade, where one can find home furnishings at really cheap prices. However with the place’s popularity, it might be hard to find a parking space.

Mahogany Market in Tagaytay City is a beef lover’s paradise. Tagaytay has a lot of grazing plains and many cattle farmers. Buyers can be assured that the meat bought here are fresh; more often than not the meat was freshly butchered not more than a few hours ago. Aside from the wonderful beef, the market is also a great place to buy fresh vegetables grown from nearby farms.

The Philippine wet market is an experience all to itself. It is the perfect organized chaos. Not all markets are the same: each one has something unique to offer. So grab your wallet, go out there and buy your best bargain ever.


Tips for Women Thinking of Trying Boxing

Boxing is a great sport for any gender. It increases stamina, builds endurance, trains strength and coordination and boosts confidence. For women who aren’t boxing fans, aren’t all that familiar with boxing but are interested in trying it here are a few things that you need to know:

  • Wear comfortable clothes you can move around in but: refrain from wearing very short shorts.

“Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee” goes Ali’s old adage. You will indeed do a lot of jumping and running around. Boxing training includes footwork, roadwork (meaning jogging/running some distance for warm up/endurance) and muscle stretching afterwards. When choosing training clothes from your closet, grab the good loose t-shirt or running singlet that doesn’t chaff, sports bra, jogging/running pants or sportswear (ask your trusted sports store) and you’re good to go.

Now, about the shorts: boxing is a male dominated sport. Most of the time you’re going to be training together with a lot of men and your trainer will be a guy. Short shorts such as running shorts are indeed comfortable when boxing because you have less friction, but if you’re not open to them seeing your underwear during muscle stretching (you will be lying on the ground and your feet would be pulled up, etc.) a good alternative would be muay thai shorts. They’re lightweight, longer, and don’t chaff. Plus you can comfortably wear short stretch pants underneath if you want.

  • If you have long hair, remember to always bring scrunchies, and stash extras in your gym bag while you’re at it. For people with shorter hair, hair clips are your best friend.

Since you’re going to be jumping around and getting sweaty, nothing will be more irritating than your hair sticking to your face or your bangs poking your eyes. (Yes, those movies where the female protagonists fight with their hair whipping their faces has eyes made of steel and are secretly members of the X-men.) For people with shorter hair remember to check your hair’s length while it’s wet to see if your hair will make it harder for you to train. If you’re seeing any part of your bangs, then you will have to clip them upward or to the side. Good choices would be hair clips that don’t move around. Hair pins can work, but most of the time they can dislodge if they’re not tight. If you’re going to be tying your hair, a good high pony works every time. Tight braids work even better at restraining your hair.

  • Thinking of training long term? Buy your own wraps and gloves. Additional tip: authentic leather’s the way to go.

Most gyms would have gloves and wraps that they lend out to those who come to training without their own. But a lot of people use them, and every hand will be sweaty. Sometimes you would have to use gloves right after someone and the inside would be wet. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you can buy your own at a sports store. It is always best to buy your own wraps even if you don’t own your own gloves. Wraps are your hands’ best friends, and unlike gloves which you use during mitts and spars, wraps are constantly used throughout the training session.

If you are buying gloves but are on a budget, take note: do not buy synthetic leather ones. They will not last long, and you will end up buying another pair after 6 to 8 months. Buy authentic leather gloves. Even if the leather is thin, authentic leather gloves will last you at least more than a year. They are a little more expensive, but the extra bucks are worth it.

  • Say goodbye to your French tips because you’ll need to keep your nails short.

The first thing your trainer is going to say is that you would have to cut your nails. Why? Because you might injure your hand! Long nails with get pushed back by the end of the boxing gloves, and it will hurt you every time you punch. Also, your nails might scratch and injure your palm, especially when you’re doing speed ball training.

  • Your thick-soled running shoes? Nope, they’re not going to work.

The thing with boxing is that you’re going to be bending your feet, and your running shoes may not be up to the task. The best shoes for boxing are flexible and thin soled. An example would be Nike’s Free Run series. Do take note that not everyone’s feet are the same; some might need more support in other areas of the foot such as the arc. You might want to do a foot strike test, or do some researches before you buy your training shoes.

For beginners who are not fans of boxing, it will be very helpful to watch a few videos of boxing matches and boxing training sessions before you sign up and pay for a bundle of sessions. If you have any ailments such as asthma or back issues it would be best to consult a doctor first as boxing is a high impact sport. Try one session first to see if boxing is for you. The most important tip of all: have fun! Boxing may feel awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’re sure to get hooked.