Night Market closure, a major livelihood loss


BAGUIO CITY – The lack of Job opportunities and loss of livelihood, these are the reasons why the night market was created. Michelle Maramag, night market food vendor said that there was a time the local government worked to achieve zero (ambulant) vendors on the streets of the city. And, now there is this proposed closure of the night market, Maramag is confused and gravely threatened by this crisis along with more than a thousand vendors in the night market.

For closure? If the petition to close the night market in Baguio gets approved, hundreds of stall owners will lose a source of living including those who are not regular stall owners in the night market. Photo by Dee Peñaflor

On July 11, City Councilor Leandro Yangot Jr., chairperson of the committee on market, trade, commerce and agriculture called for an urgent consultation at the Multipurpose Hall, City Hall. The committee presented certain issues faced by the tenants of the night market operation along Harrison road in 2011.

The night market is seen as an obstacle, an issue brought by the board members of the Baguio Heritage Foundation. Mr Edison Claridades addressed the petition about the closing of the Harrison Night Market to President Rodrigo Duterte. Yangot said, “nakikitang sagabal ang night market kaya dapat pagtulungan natin ito upang makagawa tayo ng solusyon.”

According to Maramag and Elizabeth Gallardo, night market thrift vendor, they said that the issue was clarified during a television interview with Claridades. Maramag said, “hindi pinapatanggal yung night market, kundi pinapalabas yung pera ng night market. Baket wala daw pondo para sa basura, clinear nya sa TV?”

It was discussed during the forum that the night market holds 1067 stalls from food to clothing that each provided livelihood for families. Since the creation of the night market, there is an estimated total of 18 million pesos income in 2016 alone. This year there is an estimate of over 8 million pesos profit from January to June. During the consultation, vendors were met by Councilor Yangot with officers concerned about the operation of the night market from its health and its interpersonal aspect to its legal and safety concerns.

Nasrifa Alla, eye glass and shades vendor in the night market has three children. She said that she started as a street vendor in a parking space. But they were prohibited to operate and removed by a demolition order, and they also did not have a permit to sell. Alla’s experience in the night market was demanding, they had to draw lots or “bunotan” for a stall space. She had to wait for a year before she had a slot in the night market.

Alla said that she hopes that night market would not end its operation because it is their only source of income. She said, “kasi marami kaming magugutom kung mawala ito, karamihan sa amin dito lang naghahanapbuhay.”

Gallardo, sells clothes according to the needs of the season. She explained that she would sell jackets during the cool weather and shorts on hot weather. Currently, she’s selling dresses. She said that selling clothes also depends on supplies available. Gallardo is single. But she is the breadwinner of her family. She said “sinusuportahan ko yung senior-citizen father ko pati na rin ang tatlo kong pamangkin.”

Gallardo like any other vendor in the night market also started as a side walk vendor. When the consultation happened, Gallardo was not surprised by the complaints that the city government received ever since the creation of the night market. She said, “nagiging cycle na yung problema pero hindi ako nagulat.” She added, if the night market was to be pulled out then she would still continue selling and will go back to where they started which is in the sidewalks.

Maramag sells soft drinks and halo-halo but like Gallardo her supplies depended on what was most sellable. She said that it was hard to sell because of the constant rains. Also, like other night market vendors she also has her own family to feed. Maramag’s family consisted of her, her husband, and nine children, some of them help their mother sell, others are already married and some are supported by relatives in their province.

She explained that if the night market was to be stopped it would be painful for them because the loss of livelihood. The family source of suppot would be compromised it could mean losing one of their children to other relatives in order to survive and be educated.

Alla, Gallardo and Maramag are vendors for the same reason that all of them had to support their family and be given a chance to live decent lives. Most of them started on the sidewalks for a livelihood others came from far-flung places hoping there are better opportunities as other vendors on the city streets.

These vendors said that it was hard for them to find employment because education and age-limit restricted them from jobs in the city.

When the petition against the night market was released, the vendors still hoped for the local government to hear their sentiments and support solve the crisis. Gallardo said, “Although, responsiblity naming kumita para sa aming pamilya, meron ring responsibility siguro rin ang city sa aming mga residente na tulungan kami na magpatuloy ang aming pangkabuhayan. In the first place, ang pagkakaintindi ko talaga nung unang, pumunta kami dito dahil ito ay isang livelihood project ng city government. Eh papatayin ba ng government ang kanilang mga constituents? Yun lang ang aking pinaninidigan. Kaya naniniwala ako na magpapatuloy ang aming pangkabuhayan.”#


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