WHEN you go to a place that you have visited for the first time, it is inevitable that you would compare everything you would see there from the place where you come from not because you wanted to prove which is better but simply to make sense of the differences and similarities between two cultures and understand another way of life.
Such was the case when I had my first time to tour around Baguio City, the summer capital of the country.
During the familiarization tour hosted by AirAsia and other partner establishments a few months ago, I had the chance to have a glimpse of what is being sold at the Baguio Night Market. Of course, coming from Davao City, I couldn't help but compare it to our very own night market along Roxas Avenue.
The two are quiet the same but different in some ways. They both occupy a street at night and offer a wide range of items from street food to clothes and other interesting items but there are quiet some minor differences that you would notice due to location, climate, culture and even how the local government leads.
For instance, in Davao City, the Roxas Night Market is now tightly manned by security forces especially after the infamous bombing last September 2, 2016 that took lives and wounded a number of people. It had been through a shaky situation but it had soon regained its ardor through the efforts of the local government and the locals to bring up its happy vibes again. It is an open area where people can go to unwind but security forces are there to check every person before entering the site just like the way guards check people upon entering malls. And with the implementation of Martial law in Mindanao, those who would enter the night market are asked to show their identification cards.
If you are a fashionista, then chances are you will find yourself stumbling upon the Ukay-ukay stalls along the streets occupied by both night markets.
Since Baguio is known for its cold climate, thick jackets and scarfs are common among the items being sold there. Leather jackets with good quality abound the area and are only sold at affordable prices. Other common items that one can find in both night markets are blouses, shirts and shoes, among others.
I was told by one of our friends from the Azalea Hotel Baguio, Ms. Macky Cruz, that locals in Baguio City do not go to the malls to buy clothes; instead, they hit the market. If you happened to visit a mall in Baguio and see lots of people there then you could surmise that most of the people there are tourists.
In Davao City though, most would prefer to go to malls and check latest items among department stores though there are also those who love to occasionally go to the Roxas Night Market's Ukay-ukay stalls to buy clothes. Going to the Ukay-ukay stalls at the Roxas night market has become one of the pastimes of some Dabawenyos. Davao's night market has been the go-to place of people who wanted to hang out with friends after work hours or going out of school.
Souvenir Items and Walis Tambo
There are so many souvenir items that one can find in Baguio's night market. While common items such as key chains, ref magnets and I-love-Baguio shirts can also be found in the place, there are some items that distinguish it from the Roxas Night Market. One thing I can remember is the bows and arrows that are creatively made. I was tempted to buy one as I find it a unique souvenir and it reminded me of Katniss Everdeen, the lead character in Suzzane Collins' The Hunger Games. But I was discouraged to buy it as I might be blocked at the airport for bringing pointed weapon when I go home.
I had also learned that Walis Tambo (a type of broom) there are much better than the ones being sold here in Davao City. The strands of their Walis Tambo are so fine and polish while here in the city, it is the other way around.
The most exciting part in my Baguio Night Market exposure is trying out exotic and other street foods there.
Perhaps, the most adventurous food I tried at the Baguio Night Market was the cued baby ducks! You couldn't find cued baby ducks here in Davao City's night market. There are also the common street foods like Balot (fertilized duck eggs), Grilled food such as isaw (chicken intestines) and sliced pork. Another noticeable food item that is being sold there in Baguio's night market is the Binatog (boiled white corn kernels). I did not notice much cold food items there like ice cream and ice scramble (perhaps because of the cold weather?) while here in Davao City's night market, they are everywhere. In fact, one dirty ice cream (Mang Danny's ice cream rose from the ranks of other dirty ice creams being sold in the same market and has gained popularity among the locals.
Perhaps, if I had spent more nights there, I could have compared the two night markets better. But that single night exposure alone had revealed enough for a visiting tourist like me.