Friday, October 22, 2021

Wenceslao: Carbon market

Candid Thoughts

It looks like more questions are being raised on the Carbon market modernization project of the Cebu City Government, which means that the number of people who are opposed to it are growing. My stand has always been that while I favor modernization, the interests of the vendors must not be sacrificed. Now here’s my take on the more important impact of that project: on the consumers.

I grew up in Sitio Kawayan in Barangay Sambag 2 in Cebu City. The place is located at the back of the old TB Pavillon along B. Rodriguez Ext. I won’t say Fuente Osmeña and the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center are a stone’s throw away from our place, but they are surely at a walking distance.

Fuente was our favorite “tambayan,” especially during weekends. Just a stone’s throw away from Fuente is the popular food park called Larsian. It used to be located on the roadside across Fuente and featured stalls selling barbecue and other grilled products to promenaders and, at night, aside from the promenaders, to the park “estambays” and workers heading for their homes in the surrounding areas.

Larsian eventually became so popular that corporate and government employees and even tourists sometimes go there, usually in groups. Government took notice and on its lot near the original Larsian, it built stalls and gave space for a larger dining place.

We know what happens when decision-making is given to the government and high-end investors (an example is the food park near the Mactan shrine). The last time I went to Larsian was to buy food for the patient I was watching in the nearby Chong Hua Hospital. The prices of the food items can no longer be reached by ordinary promenaders, “estambays,” workers and other low wage earners.

How would the Carbon market change affect the normally competitive prices of the items sold there? The old Carbon market flourished because the items sold are cheaper because vendors sell them with a smaller “overhead.” Would that setup change as a result of the amenities being introduced there?

When I was with dyLA, the staff of a supermarket in Colon would regularly get the prices of the items in Carbon market that we used to report about every morning. The supermarket owners knew that their prices should be competitive with those of the Carbon market. Would the Carbon market advantage be lost with modernization?

As they say, not everything in life is free. Carbon market is, historically, the poor man’s supermarket. With modernization, would the place now be taken over by the middle class and the rich? If the City Government can prevent that from happening, then good. But can it?

Government officials either belong to the middle class or the rich. They therefore see things through the prism of the milieu they are in. They see dirt, overcrowding and roughness in Carbon and yearn for the gloss and sheen and order of the modern malls. But they more often than not, miss the point of it all.


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