Shopping

Artworks, poi dancers, and lechon: Legazpi’s Sunday market just got wilder

Good food, good finds at the Makati Street Market. Photo courtesy of Makati Street Market.


The organizers of the Makati Street Market want urbanites to adopt a new Sunday habit in the next few weeks.

Head to Legazpi Park, whether coming from the area or not, anytime from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. because they promise it’s worth the long drive and the early wake-up call. Bring cash at any amount from P500 “up to sawa, the sky’s the limit!” Lastly, have the family tag along.

Organizers Mike Claparols, Rosanne Hugo, and Joey Casimiro are revamping the Legazpi Sunday Market to make it the premiere artisanal market in the country. Inspired by the famous outdoor lifestyle markets of Barcelona, Berlin, Helsinki, and Paris, it is slated to become the shopping and dining destination for those who’ve grown tired of the commercial, the repetitive, and the usual. This is the place not only for consumers who want to own something unique, but also for patriots who want to cultivate homegrown, Filipino entrepreneurship.

“Very, very warm and friendly” is how Brad Geiser, founding director of GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications Inc. (the street market’s publicist) describes the atmosphere at the market. “The feel and vibe you get is utterly unique. You can be friends with the vendors.”

“Aside from becoming our sukis, they become like family to us. We know them,” said Casimiro, who has a stall for fashion accessories called Patika Beads and Wireseworks. Conversations like, “Hey, bud, what happened to you? I saw you last week!” are common.

“And it’s relaxed. You can talk to the vendor and find out (the tricks of the trade). ‘Hey, what’s this? How’s this done? What’s in this?’”

Casimiro likes to call it a “fun and happy” place. Probably an understatement. This is a street souk where drummers regularly bring their instruments and start banging away, where performance artists suddenly whip out their poi and wow the crowd.

“We don’t stop them; we just let people come in. You wanna do your thing? Man, do it! It’s okay. That’s why our tagline is ‘Eat, shop, and mingle.’ We’d like people to come and participate.”

What really sells this open-air shopping venue, however, are the one-of-a-kind products on offer.

“All of our non-food items are made by artists. They’re not readily available anywhere else. That’s one of the things that we’re very particular with: we do not allow mainstream items. If you want mainstream, go to the mall. If you want something unique, go to us,” he said.

Elegant white ceramic items available at the Makati Street Market. Photo courtesy of Makati Street Market.


For her part, Hugo likes to say that the Legazpi Sunday Market has “everything your hearts desire.” Paintings, jewelry, antiques, produce, regional and international food… “Think of your favorite longganisa from whatever region. We probably have it.”

One of their youngest entrepreneurs is a boy (around nine or ten years old, she said) who paints shirts. His mom helps him sell his wares.

No two stalls sell the same thing because the organizers want to help each vendor make a living out of his or her trade.

“We’ve been exposed to markets,” explained Casimiro, who used to do sales and marketing in the wines and spirits industry. “So we know what’s available elsewhere and what is not. We picked the best of the best. We pride ourselves being the most unique artisanal market.”

His favorite haunt at the Legazpi Sunday Market is the Moroccan food stall, often ordering the lentil soup with pita bread. “It’s very light.” He added that the ínasal and lechon are customer favorites.

Geiser, on the other hand, highly recommends the carabao milk ice cream. “In the middle of the market, a couple of women (sit there) with two Styrofoam containers (carrying) homemade carabao milk ice cream,” he said, as though divulging a secret. Laughingly, he added, “Ben and who?!”

The frequent customer doesn’t remember the name of the store, saying, “That’s the beautiful thing about it. The name is not important. There’s no branding. It’s a couple of ladies and they make this stuff and they sell it in the market and it’s awesome!”

A big fan of organic food, the New Jersey native no longer buys his fruits and vegetables in the grocery store, but in the Legazpi Sunday Market. “And you can buy organic meats, chicken, duck, beef, pork. That’s fantastic. You know how expensive that stuff is in the US? It’s ridiculous! And it’s affordable here.”

The frequent customer doesn’t remember the name of the store, saying, “That’s the beautiful thing about it. The name is not important. There’s no branding. It’s a couple of ladies and they make this stuff and they sell it in the market and it’s awesome!”

A big fan of organic food, the New Jersey native no longer buys his fruits and vegetables in the grocery store, but in the Legazpi Sunday Market. “And you can buy organic meats, chicken, duck, beef, pork. That’s fantastic. You know how expensive that stuff is in the US? It’s ridiculous! And it’s affordable here.”

The organizers aren’t satisfied with the state the market’s in, however. “We all share the same vision: we all wanted it bigger,” said Casimiro.

And bigger it’s going to be. Transformed into the Makati Street Market, the Legazpi souk will have a four-Sunday festival beginning September 23 until October 14. Expect biking workshops, a salsa dance party, the Adobolympics competition for the best adobo recipe, and the Grilla in Manila grilling competition for the best smoked dish.

“What we’re doing right now (is) we’re increasing the number of vendors,” said Casimiro. While the Legazpi Sunday Market began at having 30 to 40 vendors, they now have about 150. For the four-weekend event, 70 to 80 more will be on board.

More than that, the organizers say the affair is in line with Makati’s Make It Happen! Make It Makati! campaign (http://www.interaksyon.com/lifestyle/sporty-party-techie-not-your-new-girl-group-but-the-city-of-makati), which promotes the city as a hub not just for business, but for lifestyle, entertainment, and culture as well.

“We want to create awareness for people to come to Makati and see what we have to offer,” he added.

What began as a community fair now hopes to service diners and shoppers far and wide. “With all the words spoken, nothing will equate to the experience,” said Casimiro. “Please come.”

How’s that for a friendly neighborhood welcome?

InterAksyon.com