SUNDAY may be the day when the pious of Panglao head for the local church or chapel, but it is also a busy day for the local housewives…it is the biggest market day.
It means an early start to get to morning mass at the church of San Augustin and then a short walk to the middle of town where the once-a-week main market is already in full swing. For the stallholders, it meant an even earlier start to the day to set up their stalls.
Waking before dawn, they are on their way to the market to get the best position well before 5 am...and it is usually the young girls of the household who will sit all day selling the family produce until about 8 pm.
It makes a long day, and one can forgive the girls if they start to fall asleep slumped over the onions or potatoes during the heat of midday, only to be rudely awoken when someone wants a kilo or two of something.
It might be a hand or two of bananas - did you know there are 22 different types growing in the Philippines? - or a freshly cut pineapple, or maybe a kilo or two of the mangoes that Panglao is famous for.
The market is a hive of activity all day long, although the best of the products seem to get snatched up early in the morning when the chefs and buyers from the island’s many resorts turn up to restock their depleted kitchen larders with fresh supplies, instead of venturing into Tagbilaran and its’ bigger market near Island City Mall.
Outside the main covered hall at Panglao, the ‘dry’ goods are stacked up: brushes and brooms made locally by industrious hands, a few pieces of handmade furniture, piles and piles of bright clothing - some new and some obviously second-hand - and stacks of hand-thrown pots for all different occasions.
Everywhere there is the sweet smell of fruits pervading the atmosphere and vying for attention with spices and heaps of salted and dried fish.
The fish stalls are just a few meters away in another shed where busy housewives are being assured that everyone was only caught last night: they certainly look as if they came in with the morning tide, their eyes bright and glossy, the bright silver sheen still on their glistening flanks and the gills looking a healthy colour.
The squid and the octopus, just brought in from the local fishing boats, look a bit wobbly, of course, but they will firm up once they get into the wok.
At the far end of the stalls are the local meat producers, but the best pork tenderloin cuts usually go to the visitors via the resorts before anything else, and if you get there a bit too late you might just find a few pigs heads staring up at you: but don’t worry - they make an excellent meal as well, if you know how to cook them properly with some fresh vegetables to make a nourishing stew.
Sunday may be a day of rest for most people, but for a lot of people on Panglao it turns out to be the busiest day of the week...and a time to catch up on the chikka-chikka before the start of another week.
Kilroy Was Here © 2006