Feeling the loss of Maogmang Lugar’s market fire

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by Pitoy Moreno

The big fire that gutted Naga City Supermarket has been quickly extinguished but the magnitude of the loss is incalculable. Those who shop in the market now find the vendors displaced, selling their goods in Igualdad and General Luna Streets. There is confusion— something that’s expected when a calamity gets into the lives of the people. For having a “super” market, Naga suffers a “super” loss.

Fondly referred to as “Satuyang Sa’od,” the Naga Supermarket was at one point the largest public market in Asia. It had been a source of pride of the Bicolanos. During its construction in the early 1970’s, the impressive concrete edifice rose with two large covered floors and an open roof deck, occupying two city blocks. The supermarket was one of its kind until the mega Malls became popular.

Two underpasses cross the belly of the building assuring easy mobility of pedestrians and tricyles. At the center, a spiral ramp was designed to allow wooden carts and vehicles to bring merchandise directly to the top. Huge stairways service the commercial edifice for the convenience of sellers and shoppers alike. Natural breeze aerates the sturdy building.

The supermarket is a major hub of activity in Naga City. At the break of dawn people flock to the place to start the busy day. Early “birds” in search for the proverbial “fat worm” are drawn in the commercial paradise where an eclectic mix of merchandise and service thrive. Off-school children and teenagers eager to earn cash help moms and pops tend their store. The market isn’t just a place to buy and sell, it’s also an interesting place where people congregate and socialize in Maogmang Lugar.

In specified sections of the supermarket, fresh fruits, organic vegetables, choice meat, and an array of farm harvests are sold hand-in-hand with locally made home furnishings and native products. There are carenderias, flower stores, beauty shops, and bakeries that keep business at fever pitch all throughout the seasons.

Known for its plebeian openness and domesticity, the supermarket is never short of exciting activity. Seafood are hauled from places like Calabanga, Pasacao, and Cabusao and sold in the market at mark down prices. Farmers from Pacol and Carolina bring baskets of balatong harvested from their gardens. Those from Panicuason and neighboring towns bring sacks of freshly harvested corn, talong, coconuts, and edible greens to the delight of shoppers. As far as Tinangis at the foot of Mount Isarog, they come with their fresh produce to sell. That’s why as a matter of habit, store-owners in the city and neighboring towns rely on the supermarket to keep their trade going.

Shoppers love the market for the tuyo, badi, tocino and longaniza they buy for their families, but it is also a place where they meet their friends and relatives. Pili sweets are mainstay favorites enjoyed by their visitors. Young and old, they enjoy the ukay-ukay and the ready-to-wear clothes stalls which sell copies of big name brands of fashionable apparels at low prices.

Newpapers and magazines are sold in the first floor. In the market’s upper levels, vendors offer familiar Bicolano foodstuffs— red hot sili, bawang, kangkong, petchay, sibulyas, laya, and kamatis. The tempting aroma of Bicol cuisine fills the air. Rows of eateries serve ice-cold fruit juices and halo-halo to banish the tropical heat of summer. Native calamay sweets, balisoso, dila-dila, and ibos are available for hungry shoppers. Puto, bokayo, latik, pinuyos and baduya never frustrate the taste of those who seek them in the market.

It’s no wonder why Naga sorely misses the market that has been razed by fire. Many ask how long it will take the government to restore the place to its original ambience. As one can imagine, the supermarket is the truly the heart of a vibrant city where businesses flourish and the soul of the people dwells. (Photo Credits: bingbing; hellochris; hellochris) =0=

Mayor Jess Robredo Meets Naga Fire Victims

In a gathering at the site of the fire that gutted the Naga Supermarket, Mayor Jesse Robredo explains to his constituents the measures he will take to tackle the problems that follow the displacement of vendors and shoppers of the market. According to Bicol Mail, an estimated P70 million worth of goods and property were lost. (Photo Credit: Bicol Mail, Movember 13, 2008)

RELATED BLOGS: “Naga Public Market (Supermarket) Burns Down” Posted by myty555 at 11/07/2008; “Huge Loss in Naga Supermarket Fire” Posted by mesiamd at 11/09/2008;”Fire brings woes to Naga City market vendors” Posted by mesiamd at 11/07/2008

UPDATE: Inquirer (11/17/08, Escandor J.) Announced by Sen. Joker Arroyo and Budget Sec. Rolando Andaya, the national government will release P70 million to finance the reconstruction of the city’s three-story public market. Fire damage assessment was upped to P100 million from the earlier reported P70 million reported.

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