5 reasons i'm missing CdeO's night market

/ 10 July 2013 /
It never really occurred to me before that many hated Cagayan de Oro's Friday and Saturday night market/café. I knew they dreaded the traffic caused by the transformation of two of the city's busiest streets into... well, a marketplace. I knew they hated the stench and the garbage that came with it and lingered after it. I knew they would rather steer clear of the laidback -- even rowdy -- masses that flocked to it.

But the Divisoria night market had always been full of people, even on rainy evenings. I was one of those who actually loved it. And now that the city government has finally suspended it, I'm already starting to feel a little nostalgic.





It was my kind of Friday-night crowd.

Let's make it clear right off the bat that I'm an introvert who loves diverse crowds. The keyword there is diverse. On Friday nights, you won't see me at Punchbowl drinking with the cool kids nor at Centrio trying on a clothing brand on my back. My kind of Friday night is having dinner with a friend or two at a place where everybody else minds their own business.

There was something about the night café crowd, about strangers coming together without the need for it. No one needed to fit in there. You didn't have to dress or act a certain way. Come as you are. We're open till 11.

And it all worked. The convergence was organic and the diversity was beautiful. I miss that.


It was a CdeO hallmark.

Yes, hallmark, not trademark. CdeO is far from being the first city to put up stalls on its streets (just like it's not the first to stake its claim in the whitewater rafting scene, nor in the chicharon scene, nor in the sweet ham scene... the list goes on). Nevertheless, the night market has become such a popular feature of the city that tourists and non-Kagay-anons actually go there.

I miss being able to say to my visiting friends, "Night café ta na!" It's not like I can just replace that with "Jollibee ta na!" Everything else here is pretty much everywhere else, too. Case in point: I had a co-worker from the US who came to visit our CdeO office, and when we were showing her around the city, she remarked "Meh, malls are kinda the same anywhere."

Guess what isn't.



I could ukay without (as much) hassle.

Who doesn't love a good bargain? I buy ukay-ukay stuff if it satisfies these four criteria: 1) I like it/it's interesting/it doesn't look like what everyone else is wearing, 2) the quality is A-okay, 3) I get to haggle for its cheapest price, and 4) it's not underwear. But then there's a silent fifth criterion, too: the ukay-ukay site should be tolerable.

For me, the night market was a good alternative to the Cogon ukay shops. Less dust, less heat, and open to nocturnals like me. I don't have any reservations in saying that I had gone through a thesis defense and a job interview wearing night market finds. Now, I'm faced with the question of where to buy business pieces if I ever need them again (not that it's likely, but you get the idea).


The food was awesome.

This is a matter of taste (ha-ha, get it?), but I personally liked eating at the night market food stalls. I may have my hardy stomach to thank for this because not all people can trust grilled seafood or watered-down Coke prepared near a public park bench. I never got sick from night market food, though. On the contrary, the meals were actually satisfying and at reasonable prices at that. (Hey, Bimby, this is what sulit means.)

While we're at it, might as well include the popular streetfood carts at Pabayo. Balut, bopis, proven, and kwek-kwek (which is actually tokneneng) all have their well-deserved Wikipedia pages and all passed my adventurous preferences for dinner. Especially when they came with puso, buko juice (with free refill), and the supercalifra-delicious 10-peso fruit salad from that Pabayo-Hayes store. Cheap heaven! (Hey, the salad store's even on Foursquare now! Sosyalite!)



It was an experience.

I have to admit, though, that food and clothes weren't the main reasons I went to the night market. If they were, I would've gone to the real food places and clothing shops. I'm pretty sure the foreigners, the office slaves, and the private-school students would have, too.

We went to the night market to experience it. The slow walk and the stall-stops that punctuated it. The culture of people, the sound of cover bands, the unexpected sight of the choco-milk cart just when we were starting to crave. The throb of the crowd and the beautiful chaos of it all.

I particularly miss the afternoons when I would walk down all five blocks from Corrales to Capistrano, just when the stall owners were starting to set up. It felt... inspiring. The city bustled, as if it was on the verge of something exciting. And it was.


It's a shame people found the night market a bane to this quaint city. The simplistic thinker in me just thinks that it would've been great had we equipped ourselves more for it: more police visibility to reduce delinquency (except at Velez, because it seemed that's where all the policemen gathered), more serious enforcement of traffic rules so motorists don't go making up their own, more discipline to not piss or puke outside Cham's...

Or maybe I'm wrong and it really is better to stop the thing altogether. But like a kid who's grown too tall for the ball pit, I miss it, though I can only acknowledge the rules.

It had been a good run. So long, night café. :)

2 comments:

Anonymous on: August 25, 2013 at 4:57 AM said...

can you please write for rappler or inquirer? pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease >_< =)

{ hyacinth } on: August 25, 2013 at 8:16 PM said...

I take that as a compliment. Thank you, but I don't think they'll appreciate an against-the-grain writer. But who knows. :)

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