There are only six hours for doing palengke shopping here – 6 a.m. to noon – “the pride of Quezon City,” the largest open-air weekend market in Metro Manila.
There are likely more than 500 stallholders holding court, many of them occupying more than one stall because the rent is only R670 per stall for six precious hours, for which reason shoppers find the variety of goods and their prices irresistible. Literally, people from all walks of life come to the Centris palengke to buy just about anything, fresh, dry, raw, cooked, preserved, local, imported, practical, whimsical, silly, crazy, canned, bottled – including snake-oil, would you believe, from Mindoro! – and get a kick out of the palengke prices.
A lady bedecked in pearls said between puffs of her cigarette, “I’m here every Sunday. It’s like an addiction.” (By addiction I didn’t think she meant nicotine.) A lady selling cookies in tall and small jars said she sold “about 1,000 tall jars” in December, at R100 a jar, without mentioning how much she made off the small jars.
The phenomenon of shopping, whether one shops to meet a need or a want or a whimsy in hard or easy times, has never been adequately explained by marketers and psychologists. Suffice it to say that Sundays at this particular market – now that the weather is milder than usual – mark a convergence, a community of sellers and buyers who just happen to be on the same wavelength. And are glad to meet and let money change hands, with pleasure! s