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Philippine Food Shopping in a Small City

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Public Wet Market in the Philippines

Public Wet Market in the Philippines

Philippine Food Shopping

Shopping in a Small City

Doing Philippine Food Shopping is not the same as in the US or Europe, especially if like me you are living in a small city. In bigger places like Manila, Cebu, Davao or Cagayan de Oro things are a little different than a small place. Katleen and I live in a small city out in a Barangay or Barrio. This means no Malls close to us and here most Malls have grocery stores in them.

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Our First Stop

When we need to buy food we start out in the open air Market. Now when I lived here almost 50 years ago, I did the food shopping on the US Navy base at a store like the US grocery store. The Open Air Market at that time placed the fish on Palm leaves on the ground or on wooden tables, same for meat and chicken without ice, dried fish and fruit, and vegetables in cardboard boxes.

The aroma was interesting to someone not used to it. And in my youth and background was afraid to try the food from there. Times have changed in many ways, cement tables with running water, ice (lots of ice for the fish and ice chests for meat), dried fish is placed on tables in stalls same for fruit and vegetables. Another big difference is no smell and the floors are clean at least in the Markets I have been in.

Buying Meat

After Kat has purchased what foods including rice and eggs that she needs for home, we head of to the meat store if the Market did not have the cuts we needed, all the time stopping to talk with friends and family that we see along the way. Once this is done we head to the grocery store to buy can goods, soap for washing clothes by hand, dish soap and other goodies, such as candy, cookies, crackers, juice, ice cream and if needed school supplies for YumYum (Kat’s cousin’s little boy, He and his mother live with us). CheChe helps Katleen clean the house, cook and do the wash. Then if needed off to Prince Town a new grocery store that opened a few years ago (like the Wal-Mart’s in the US that sell food, clothes, pots and pans and stereo’s, TVs and more.

Final Stops

Public Market in the Philippines

Public Market in the Philippines

From here we get in the car and if we need bread or baked goods we stop at 1 of many bakeries in the area. Is it time for a nap yet. And as we head for home Kat might stop to buy Beer and sodas if it is fiesta or a party coming up. Been quite a morning and this happens several times a week if not a day. But not done shopping yet, a phone call will get our bottled water delivered. And in the early morning and during the day street vendors selling fresh fish, Lechon Baboy (roast pig), ginamos (fish paste) and fruit and vegetables (homegrown) and Katleen or CheChe look it over and get what is needed or wanted.

We have a refrigerator and a chest freezer (Kat did not think we needed the freezer at first now uses it a lot).

Coming Up Next

Next time I will talk about shopping for food in the big cities like Cagayan de Oro or Butuan including the drive going there.

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Luke

I am almost 71 years old, I retired in 2013 from Adventist Health where I was the Director of Corp. Department of Clinical Engineering for 18 of their Hospitals and my wife and I moved out of California and went to our home in. the Philippines. Over the last 5 years we have had many adventures here in the Islands as well as the world. Relaxing and enjoying life and each others company.

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Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
3 years ago

Luke
It sounds like the public market in Dinalupihan and Olongapo 25 years ago. My wife would make me sit outside and have a beer, because if she was walking with a blue eyed guy it would double the price.

Luke Tynan
Luke Tynan
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Paul, a bit farther back. I was stationed in San Antonio from 1970 to 1973. And the markets that my x and I frequented was San Antonio and Olongapo during that time. We bought cloth and it was better and cheaper than on base and we also got our rice there, also. So about 45 years ago. Times have changed.

Cordillera Cowboy
Cordillera Cowboy
3 years ago

Hello Luke,

We don’t need to shop so frequently, but your routine sounds like ours. Though I only sometimes accompany Marlyn on her grocery shopping. We get our fresh foods from either the palenke or the garden. Staples (coffee, sugar, and such) come from the grocery store.

By chance, is the new grocery you mentioned a SaveMore? I’ve heard they are on an expansion campaign. We have 2 new ones near us, baking 3 total.

Take care,
Pete

John Reyes
3 years ago

Hi Luke – The open air market you speak of with its distinctive “fragrance”, no refrigration and with flies flying about is what we call palengke. The nearest one from barrio Salaza is the municipal market, seven kilometers away located in the town of Iba, the provincial capital of Zambales. The first and only time I went to a palengke since I left the Philippines at 15 years of age was in 1993 when I brought my then young family to the Philippines for their first glimpse and taste of the Philippines. We went to the Iba palengke along with… Read more »

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
3 years ago

John,
I usually go with Anne to the Palengke every Saturday to help her carry all the purchases. The best Palengke I’ve been to is up in Baguio. Very clean, wide aisles, big selection of veggies and fruits you may not find in other markets.

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