What to Expect at Farmer’s Market

After years of hearing about one of the best markets  in town, I was finally able to visit Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago. I didn’t know what to expect in the market (palengke) except for fresh seafood because my friends and even my grandmother recommend buying from Farmer’s. So, I asked my mom if she could accompany me one Saturday morning and she did! My older brother joined us too. Hooray! I loved it! As soon as we got to the place, the first words that came out of my mouth were “Wow! This is a dream come true!”

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Since it was my first time to go there, I just observed and took photographs of the place and people, while my mom did most of the shopping. We also took our time visiting numerous stalls of fruits, fish, seafood, and vegetables. We weren’t able to go through the meat section though because we didn’t need to buy meat at that time. Nonetheless, I enjoyed our sweaty and stinky Saturday morning at the market. I hope I can visit Farmer’s again soon.

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If you haven’t been to Farmer’s market, here are some of the things that you can expect:

FRESH INGREDIENTS

Having fresh ingredients can do wonders to any dish. My mom bought a kilo of fresh medium-sized shrimps and made “Halabos na Hipon” for dinner that night. Because the shrimps were alive and fresh when we bought them, they had a naturally sweet and juicy flavor after they were cooked. Even my dad and other siblings made a comment about how delicious the shrimps were. That was just one of the many ingredients sold at the market. You could just imagine the crisp heads of cabbages and lettuces, the bright and healthy squash flowers, the plump and red tuna fish displayed on the counters, and many more. Oh, yes! The next time I go to Farmer’s, I have to make sure to buy only the ingredients on my list or else, I might end up splurging on a whole lot of good eats.

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AFFORDABLE PRICES

I remember bringing a banana to work with a price tag on it and my colleagues joked about me buying only those fruits and vegetables with brands or those that came from supermarkets. We just laughed about it. But, it got me thinking about my spending habits. I rarely go to the market because we have a supermarket closer to our home. Since it’s more convenient for me, I usually buy raw ingredients there which are more expensive, unfortunately. However, after going to Farmer’s market, I saw the huge difference in the prices compared to those sold in the grocery stores.

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For example, a kilo of orange sweet potato costs Php 40. When we buy this exact kind in the supermarket, it ranges from Php 70-80 per kilo. Another example is the price of shrimps. A kilo of live shrimps in Farmer’s costs around Php 350-400. This is also the same price range of shrimps in the supermarket, but those shrimps aren’t alive anymore. A decade ago, I didn’t really think about the costs of ingredients whenever I would join my mom to her trips to the market. But now, I appreciate buying quality ingredients at the lowest possible prices. I just need to be more intentional in planning when and where to buy the ingredients I need, so I could save more.

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ORGANIZED VENUE

There were four main areas in the market: Flowers/Plants, Fruits/Vegetables, Fish/Seafood, and Meat. Each area had about a hundred stalls. The place was huge! Although it was a bit overwhelming, I enjoyed going through most of them because I saw the various goods sold in the market. The staff members at the market even allowed the customers to borrow steel shopping carts. We just needed to surrender an I.D. This was very helpful for us because we planned to bring home wet seafood and heavy vegetables from the market.

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Our first stop was at the fruits and vegetable section. Most of the stalls had the same kinds of vegetables, but there were some with unique ones like squash flowers, kale, cherries, and fresh goat’s milk. At the far left side of the vegetable section, there was a ramp that led us towards the seafood (my favorite part) and meat sections. Passing by each stall was a pleasant experience for me because I appreciated their beautiful displays of fresh goods. It was also fun to watch some of the vendors do their expertise such as removing the scales of fish, neatly trimming heads of lettuce, grinding coconut meat, slicing fish, or sorting seafood in plastic containers filled with water.

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Also, the vendors in the different areas were friendly. When I was taking a photo of a big tuna head in a pail on the floor, one of the vendors picked up the head and held it in the air so I could take a good photo of it. Haha. There was also a time when I was taking photos of the raw meat being chopped and some of the vendors noticed and smiled at the camera! In a way, it was refreshing to see them work so passionately and cheerfully even if it was so early in the morning. When I go back to Farmer’s, I hope I can give them hard copies of their photos and encourage them to keep up the good work!

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Overall, I think that Farmer’s market has a good and organized system. There were enough spaces along the aisles; fresh vegetables weren’t directly exposed to bacteria/possible contamination from meat since they were placed on a different floor; and the displays were always neatly arranged.

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These are just some of the observations I had. Hopefully, I can drop by Farmer’s again to go around the sections for meat and flowers/plants. Maybe I can finally buy a Tuna head and some lobsters too. Hahaha. I can’t wait until my next trip to the Farmer’s!

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Note: If ever you’re bringing a car, you may park at the Araneta Coliseum parking since they don’t allow parking beside the market.

My Boss’ Wedding

My colleagues and I went on a roadtrip to Batangas yesterday for our boss’ wedding. It was a perfect day to relax, enjoy the company of friends, celebrate with the couple, and of course, take a lot of photos. Haha. While we were on the road, one of my colleagues mentioned that the sad thing about bringing a camera to any event is that the photographer is rarely included in the photos. I do agree that the person behind the camera usually ends up with a few photos of himself/herself at the end of the day. However, I do think that bringing a camera still makes it worth the effort as it depends on the photographer’s purpose and focus.

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As soon as we got to the venue and settled down on our seats, I got my camera and started capturing the moments I observed and the people I was with. As the hours passed by, I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have much photos until my other colleague (who is also into photography) offered to take my photo because he knew that I didn’t have a lot of photos yet. I guess it brings a certain joy to my heart whenever I get to look through the lens, see the beauty in the moment, and preserve the memory. Somehow, having few photos or feeling the heavy weight of the camera while I walk up and down stairs and slopes in my 4-inch heels didn’t seem to matter anymore. It just wasn’t my main focus that day.

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When I think about these things now, I can’t help but remember what I witnessed during my boss’ wedding. There was something about the ceremony, reception, and the hearts of the groom and bride that radiated peace and joy. Even though we can try to attribute it to the couple’s personalities, good weather, beautiful venue, or sincerity of their family members, I know that it was because of Jesus Christ – the focus of yesterday’s celebration.

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When the pastor led the ceremony, he emphasized the importance of two things: 1) Trusting in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and 2) Loving like Him. Also, during the exchange of vows, the groom and bride mentioned this phrase “Now, I am excited to wake up each day…” Before they could finish the sentence, I was expecting them to say something cheesy like “…wake up each day and be beside you.” But, they didn’t. Instead, they said: “Now, I am excited to wake up each day and seek the Lord first, so I could know, love, and serve Him with you.”

That was just an amazing moment.

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In this day and age, whenever we hear the word “marriage”, people usually think that the main focus of it is the love between a husband and his wife. However, it was refreshing to see my boss and her husband publicly declare their commitment to God and to each other yesterday. They shared to their family and friends that their marriage is and will always be by God’s grace and for His glory. Clearly, it wasn’t about them. Even while they were exchanging their vows and honoring their parents, they gave the glory to God. It was encouraging to see them sincerely express their desire to know, love, and serve the Lord together as long as they live.

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One of the major highlights yesterday was the couple’s response to their “wedding bloopers”. There were quite a handful of bloopers in the speeches and technical difficulties. But, they didn’t let these little disappointments rob them of the joy that they had. Their wedding wasn’t about showcasing a perfect event or program. It was an opportunity and a privilege for them to give God the glory as they declare their love for Him and for each other. That was their main purpose and focus last night.

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On our way back to the parking lot, I whispered “Thank You!” to God as I looked to the dark blue sky full of twinkling stars. I didn’t have a tripod with me so I couldn’t take a photo of the breathtaking view. But, in that moment, I remembered what had transpired throughout the day and how God encouraged my heart to focus on Him alone. Not on myself, my limitations, disappointments, or the situations I’m in.

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To my boss and her husband (Woohoo!), I pray that you will grow even more in love with the Lord as you enjoy this new season in your lives. Continue to give him the glory in everything that you do. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us on your special day.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

[Numbers 6:24-26]

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I want to leave you with a song that was played during the reception. It’s called “The Marriage Prayer” by John Waller.