Eversince I was a resident of Baguio City, the public market has always been for me an interesting place. I consider it as one of the tourist sites of the city. Being in the market is a different experience when compared with walking up and down Session Road. Instead of just seeing mostly people and store display windows, in the market you get to see a more interesting variety of inexpensive items being sold and how vendors sell these to their customers. Aside from seeing housewives and other local residents who find a need to go to the market, you will even chance upon local and foreign visitors who either buy something or just want to experience what it is like being in a public market.
The market is seemingly a busy and a noisy place for there is always something going on and there is never a dull moment. There are always customers huggling with vendors over the price of an item. There are even some noisy vendors trying to attract the attention of customers. Starting early at dawn and extending towards the later part of the day, there is a rush of fresh deliveries being made to the different stalls and stores inside the market. Customers just continue to arrive and shop that there is always a beehive of activity starting even before the sun rises and extending all the way past sunset.
On numerous occasions in the past I have accompanied Nena in making her rounds of the market. I enjoyed doing it because it gave me a chance to select the different food items I wanted her to prepare at home. For me, it was also interesting to see the different people who would come to the market to sell, buy, or just look around. It was always a fun place to just watch and observe others as they go about their respective ways.
The Baguio Public Market area is located right at the lower end of Session Road. Here you will find a wide selection of items such as fresh vegetables, strawberry jam, peanut brittle, dried tobacco, an assortment of fresh flowers, meat, Baguio sausages, fish, poultry, fruits, clothes and clothing material. You will also find native products and handicraft such as baskets, brooms, bags, brass, blankets & sweaters, woodcarving, and locally made jewelry. Fresh and sweet strawberries from nearby La Trinidad are sold at the market but these are available only on certain months of the year. From the province of Pangasinan, "bucayo" (coconut candy) and "bagoong" (salted fish or shrimp) may also be purchased. There are numerous other products and handicrafts sold at the Baguio public market which are brought in from other nearby provinces.
At the upper part of the market are "carinderias" or small food stores serving delicious and inexpensive native as well as a few Chinese or western-style menu. Different native food choices are available and these include favorite dishes from the Ilocos and Tagalog regions, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Bicol, and others. These carinderias are patronized by most of the market vendors, people who work in the market, and some of the local people. The Maharlika shopping complex is also an integral part of the public market and at its basement is a food court popular among students, office and retail workers in the downtown area, and low-budgetted tourists from the nearby lowlands. It operates just like any other food court in big shopping malls in Metro Manila. At its upper floors are small retail outlets selling clothing, shoes, grocery items, wood and metal carvings, and antiques. Many visitors from foreign countries shop at the Maharlika shopping complex for silver craft, shell products, wood carvings, and other kinds of native handicraft.
When in Baguio, a visit to the public market should always be a must. Visitors should find time to buy at least an item or two to take home with them. Bringing home something like a Baguio broom, a jar of ubi, peanut brittle, a wood carving, fresh strawberries, assorted fresh vegetables, or even a lei of everlasting (silk) flowers seems to be the usual way of letting others know that you have been to Baguio and have something to share. During my recent visit to Baguio City in September of 2000, I took a number of photographs at the public market. The different photographs below should give you a better idea of what exactly you will see at the market.
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A stall selling local delicacies. A wide variety of fruits are sold. Rice vendors at the market. Selling fresh fish and other seafood. An enterprising barbeque vendor. A fresh vegetable vendor. Buying chicken at a market stall. Even fresh flowers are available. Putting salt in a plastic bag. Young children vendors. Every available space is used. When there's smoke, it's barbeque. A young girl selling ginger. A market stall just for slippers. Baguio sausages & roasted pig. Onions, garlic & other vegetables. A banana stall. An assortment of dried fish. Slippers being sold along a street. A kangkong & petchay vendor. Fresh bangus & tilapia. Selecting a good slice of pork. Some of the "take home" items. Green mangoes & grapefruit. A rice stall. Buying at the "hukay-hukay". A wide selection of used clothing. Mango, ubi, & avocado floats. A sweepstake/lottery agent. There is always something to buy. A pretty flower vendor. One of the market's alleys. Vendors at the side-streets. The chicken vendors. Stall for apples, oranges, & grapes. Waiting for their customers.