Plenty, as it turns out, without having to leave the island. (If you do want to leave the island, you can easily take the hour-long ferry to Siquijor and enjoy the lovely beaches there!)
My friend A. insisted that we go to Malatapay Market in the town of Zamboanguita, around 40 minutes from Dumaguete City. I was initially unenthusiastic; as a local, I’ve seen my share of local markets.
In Tandag City, my hometown, for example, we have a Saturday farmers’ market called tabo, which means “gathering.” Farmers bring their produce to the town plaza and sell them, sans the middlemen, at much lower prices.
It’s much the same thing in Malatapay, although they only open on Wednesday, not Saturday. Sellers are concentrated on one long road leading to the beach where you can take the boat to Apo Island.
There are the usual fruits and vegetables…
…and clothes at bargain prices. Kids’ pants are at P10 (roughly $0.25) per pair while two pairs of bra cost P25 (around $0.60). How much cheaper can you get?
And of course, there are household items and construction materials on sale, too.
And as always, there will always be one or two vendors selling local herbal concoctions.
In Tandag, for example, the indigenous people would be at the market too, selling “magic potions” for all sorts of things, from attracting wealth, fertility, or for protection. The guy below is just selling something for body aches and pains.
Malatapay (which A. kept calling “Malapatay,” much to the hilarity of the locals there who overheard him) had one thing that made it stand out though: its big livestock market.
We didn’t even know it was there. We were having breakfast (fish tinola is uber delicious if the fish is fresh!) when we heard squealing pigs. We followed the noise, and we came to a fenced in area with a lot of people milling around (entrance fee: P5).
There were a number of carabaos (water buffalos), cattle, pigs, and goats. I was in the pen with the carabaos and their handlers, not knowing what they were doing there. Some of the animals had numbers written on their back, others didn’t.
A local then told me that they were waiting for people to bid on/buy the carabaos. When a price is agreed upon, they would have the animal weighed, the weight would be written in chalk on the animal’s back, and the animal would be taken home.
There were only a few carabaos that were sold, and it’s no wonder. One carabao (below) was bought for P22,000! They’re used for farm work, not for food, though, so they’re understandably less popular.
The cattle sold more; the younger ones were friskier and would fight their handler. The pigs were the bestsellers and were the noisiest. You can hear them screaming halfway to the main road.
Want to buy a live pig? It will cost you a minimum of P100 (~$2.50) a kilo.
Where to Eat in Malatapay Market
There are a lot of small eateries in Malatapay Market. We chose one where they kept the dishes warm with coals. My order of fish tinola and rice cost P50.
A tip: the rice servings are huge, so if you’re not a big eater, split it with a friend.
We also had halo-halo (Filipino dessert made of mixed fruits and milk on ice) at the open restaurant just before the building with the toilets, right at the end of the road by the bay. At P25 ($0.60) per glass, it was more than worth it!
How to Go to Malatapay Market from Dumaguete
From anywhere in Dumaguete City, take a tricycle and ask the driver to drop you off at the terminal for Zamboanguita. The roughly 40-minute jeepney ride costs P20 and the driver will drop you off at the junction. You won’t miss it.
Arrive early in the morning, as they pack up by lunch time.
Have you been to any local farmers’ market? Where’s your favorite?