Thursday, 24 September 2015

Malatapay - Philippines - Market Mini-Series

I spent a month based on the island of Negros in the Visayas region of the Philippines. 

After the trip I wrote an article titled: Meeting the Locals which was published in Paradise Magazine - Air Niugini’s in-flight magazine.

Here is an edited extract about my visit to a market:

About 20 kms along the coast from the town of Dumaguete is Malatapay Market. This market is unusual in that the buyers and sellers still use a traditional barter system; although I did see money changing hands too.

Farmers, fishermen and housewives from surrounding villages and the interior of Negros flock to Malatapay every week to do business and socialise. 

The livestock section was not for the faint hearted. As we approached the enclosure a strong smell of dung assailed us.

Water buffalo, goats, pigs, horses and cows were tethered to fences or vehicles. We picked our way through dung and slick mud to a cacophony of lowing, bleating, squealing livestock, belching vehicles and human shouts.

Pigs were being carted off – sometimes in sacks – squealing and struggling.

A hefty pig was showing great determination not to be loaded into a tricycle’s sidecar. He was pulling away so strongly, the men holding his ropes were sliding in the mud in a fierce Tug-of-War contest. We moved back from the action in case the pig won.

A big sow lay comatose and I thought she must be sick or dying. However she suddenly sat up with a shake that splattered mud in all directions and looked around perkily – she’d just been enjoying a wallow and snooze.

After a short wander we realised we were getting in the way of the serious traders. It was time to explore the rest of the market.

People were carrying bundles of chickens by their feet. The birds dangled quietly, seemingly philosophical about their fate.

We saw tricycles with cows, pigs or goats loaded into their sidecars. A particularly large pig was lying upside down on the back of a tricycle with his hooves lashed together. He was totally relaxed. 

Along with stalls selling tools, clothes, fruit and vegetables, we found dozens selling seafood, from fresh trevally to tiny dried sprats. There were tubs of what looked like mashed up shrimps in a gloopy, slimy liquid – I didn’t investigate too closely.

Cock fighting is popular in the Philippines. 

We came upon a group of men. Some were stroking flamboyantly beautiful cockerels. 

As part of their trading technique the men faced their birds up against each other for a brief scuffle to demonstrate the birds’ feistiness. I noticed that the men kept a firm hold of their charges to prevent full blown fights. 

On our amble back we stopped to buy freshly fried banana fritters, generously sprinkled with sugar and served on banana leaves. We risked scalding our mouths as we bit into the delicious sweet, crunchy batter.


  1. Those buses are amazing, aren't they?

  2. Aren't they? The Jeepneys were originally adapted jeeps that the Americans left behind after the Second World War.


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