I had a fun experience last Friday. Daniel took me to meet Delia Villegas from church so that she and I could travel to the market together. We were going to buy fabric for the curtains in our bedrooms. We met her at the corner near her house at about 9. Delia and I caught a jeepney to the LRT station at Cubao. The noise, crowdedness, heat and traffic were something to experience again. We got off the jeepney at Cubao and walked several blocks to catch the LRT (train) in the Araneta Center, a big mall and shopping complex. After the train we caught another jeepney to take us to the Divisoria market.
On the jeepney ride, there was a mother across from us holding an adorable little girl of a few months old. The girl had a red cross painted on her forehead. Delia explained to me that that was a superstitious thing. Some people believe that if a stranger would talk to their baby evil spirits would make the baby sick. So they put the cross on the forehead to keep the evil spirits away. Sad that such superstitions control some people. Delia asked if there were those kinds of things in America. I said maybe not as much, but people there are superstitious too. And it is probably getting worse with all the new age stuff, etc.
Sellers Along the Main Street
We were dropped off in the main street that runs through the market. The street is very wide, but it has very little traffic. The smells and the sights were fascinating. There were people selling every possible thing you could possibly want, from veggies, to fabric, to household goods, to clothing, toys, and trinkets. And very cheaply. People were carrying their goods to their stores, either on bicycles, small carts, or just walking - bolts of fabrics, ironing boards, etc.
Ironing Boards and Oranges For Sale
We walked a ways along the main road, until Delia found the side street that she wanted. Not far down the side street was an alley with a lot of fabric venders. One of the vendors there is the one Delia always goes to. His shop was narrow, but had a tile floor and was fairly cool. The fabrics were piled along the walls all the way to the ceiling. The owner had a helper who would climb up and get different bolts. He also unraveled the bolt while the owner measured and cut and then rolled it up again and put it away. They have no cutting table (there is no room), so do it all on the floor, but have it down to a science and are very efficient at it. They stand the bolt upright on the floor and unravel, measure and cut it that way. They had a nice bench for customers to sit on and from which you could see most of their goods and tell them what you want. They were out of the lace that I had chosen from Delia’s samples, so the man asked me about another one. I should have deferred to Delia, because as soon as I said it was fine, he stated the price and I think it was higher than normal. Delia tried to dicker with him, but he said it was a new one and that was the price. (At least that is what I gathered.) Oops. It was still a reasonable price - 40P a yard, so less than a dollar.
While Delia was paying I wandered a little to feel the fabrics to see what content they were. A lot of them were polyester, but there were cottons as well, and some heavier drapery fabrics. I found a cotton print that would work well for curtains in the living area of the house, so I pointed it out to Delia. She will go back to get it once she has taken measurements of our windows. There were a lot of nice prints and some quite similar to what you find in the states, but some different as well. Other vendors had a lot of sheer fabrics (beautiful) and Delia pointed one out to me that they would use for the very formal barongs the men wear. I should have asked her what it was made of, because I know some of them are made from leaves or bark from different plants or trees.
Before we went Delia had warned me not to wear any jewelry. She said to wear old clothes and carry my money in the front, because the pickpockets are bad, and white people tend to stand out and attract attention. I followed instructions, but we didn’t have any problems. Because of her warning, I laughed when I saw the t-shirt one girl was wearing. It said across the back in big letters "Walang ang wallet ko." Translated that is "I don’t have a wallet." May as well let the pickpockets know!
Walking down the side streets was quite an experience. The vendors have their wares out into the road on both sides. There is just enough room for a jeepney to squeeze through. So the people walking have to get into the stalls to get out of the way. At one point as we were walking the street was suddenly cleared of vendors. In a matter of minutes, tables, wares, umbrellas, everything was gone. Delia said something about the police, and sure enough there was a police car driving down the road. I guess it was something to do with not having the proper license to sell. Where the vendors went with all their things I don’t know. I’d like to see that again sometime to see how they actually do it. It reminded me a little bit of when we walked the streets in New York City and there would be guys trying to scam people by getting them to gamble on a little game they had set up. There too, when the police come along, suddenly they are packed up and gone.
Okay, the ride there was crowded - 20 or so people in the jeepney. Now picture the same thing, only with boxes and packages thrown in as well. Delia explained that some people buy bulk, and I guess they do! The aisle of the jeepney was as full as the seats. :-) I was taking a few pictures with my small camera. The lady next to me asked if I was from the press. Well no, not quite. :-) Unless you want to call the blog that. :-) I chatted with her a little bit. One thing she said was that she admired missionaries for the sacrifices they make to help people. I told her we felt it was a privilege. She liked that way of looking at it
We did our trip in reverse. When we reached Delia’s area we stopped at her house to drop the fabric off. After a merienda of ice tea and crackers we headed off again so she could take me home.
We took one Jeepney ride up Ortigas to the mall, then caught another to take us the rest of the way to the gate of Beverly Hills subdivision. On our second jeepney, we somehow got crowded up close with a taxi van next to us. We were as close as two vehicles could get without actually hitting each other! The side mirrors of the vehicles were overlapped. If we had pulled ahead a couple inches our mirror would have hit his. Our jeepney driver was discussing with the passenger on our side how close he was. He just stayed put until the taxi van pulled away.
Too Close For Comfort
A Jeepney Driver's View
We walked from the gate of the subdivision to home. I showed her our family albums while we had a little snack. We measured the windows and then she had to go to someone else in the neighborhood who had sewing for her to do. Thus ended my day at the market. If you come to visit we'll take you there.