The long contained energy of the Ilonggos because of Covid-19 quarantine was discharged by the 3-day holding of the Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market at the Iloilo Convention Center. The Ilonggos went out to dine on freshly cooked food and shopped for home essential local products.
Food was overflowing, items were aplenty, and the general atmosphere was brimming with smiles and laughter. Usually, weekend markets brings out the best and the positive side of the Ilonggos and the July 24 to 27 Mercado Iloilo was all that.
The weekend market was organized by Mercado Iloilo, Iloilo Convention Center (ICON), and the Iloilo Live Events Association (ILEA). It acquired the support of the Iloilo City Government and various groups.
The organizers gathered the creations of Coronapreneurs, a term they have developed to describe those who engaged in backyard livelihood activity and home kitchen cooking, up to micro-small-medium entrepreneurs, and established brands in one weekend fair.
The coronapreneurs went popping up during the 3-month community quarantine by bringing into the online and social media platform home-cooked food and familiar Ilonggo snack for orders and delivery. An assortment of things big and small were there for the picking, including plants and herbs, wrought iron items, and what not.
Unmindful to many, the coronapreneurs did not only offer a coping mechanism among Ilonggo consumers who were reeling from the impact of isolation brought about by the quarantine, but rather, they were already shaping a way of doing business ahead of the post-quarantine new normal.
The Ilonggos have adapted to it. Here are 5 personal observations that can help explain why the Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market is such a hit. And perhaps why it will still be a hit in the next rounds.
1. Ilonggos loves to dine al fresco, especially if the weather is good.
The Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market has that. Considering the heightened demand for safety protocol and security, the Iloilo Convention Center was the best venue of choice. It was spacious, with high ceiling, and it offered a regulated entry of sunlight, especially that the place is air-conditioned.
The physical set-up provided for proper distancing: provision for vendors and the dining area are arranged according to allowable distance.
Visitors has a good space to observe physical distancing while lining up outside with provision for hand washing, filling-up of health monitoring info sheet, and securing of body temperature. Vehicle parking was not a problem.
All in all, the venue is indoor, but it has an outdoor feeling minus the discomfort of the noontime heat and sun.
2. Ilonggos likes amenities to be convenient and accessible.
Mercado Iloilo Weekened Market has that too. Comfort rooms were available and complete with amenities: running water from the faucet, hand soap, toilet papers, hand dryers, and clean, dry and non pee-smelling comfort rooms.
It is accessible for PWDs and the elderly and it offered a proportional provision for the number of visitors. No lining up from end to end, especially among women during the particular time of my visit.
This is by far one of the best consideration integrated by the organizers on their selection of the venue. I’m hoping that Megaworld executives will consider it as a “good practice” worth duplicating. As many would know or recall, Festive Walk Parade outdoor dining is a place with one of the poorest and the most inconvenient amenities for an upscale township. Believe it!
3. Ilonggos wants the surroundings to be clean, but they need more literacy when it comes to trash.
Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market has that also, but it needs some improvement. The Ilonggos are known to be “malambing” or soft spoken. However, malambing does not equate to cleanliness. In spite of the surplus of information by Google, many Ilonggos remains illiterate when it comes to trash, and weekend markets are best events to observe the level of literacy of the malambings.
In this area, Mercado Iloilo needs some improvement. In spite of the fact that there were trash bins everywhere, proper waste segregation was not observed. Food waste, plastic, and papers joyfully partied into one bin. We all know what will happen on those trash.
4. Ilonggos want value for money, but they are real spenders for good food.
Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market has this in mind. The pricing was justifiable given the venue, the facilities, and the amenities. But value for money is not summarized by that factor; an Ilonggo’s idea of value for money is measured by the quality and the taste of the food, especially among pre-millennial generation consumers.
Many Ilonggo chefs have failed on this arena and the infants on the market who were facilitated by Mercado Iloilo will certainly challenge the artificial hold of some brands on the local market.
In general, Mercado Iloilo was able to play a good balance when it comes to value for money by offering a range of local brands and various providers to select from. Some Ilonggos are said to be “kuripot” (thrifty), but they are real spenders for good food.
5. Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market is a hit, because Ilonggos are sociable and they have a money to spend.
Need I elaborate on this? After all the liquor ban and the pool party encounters despite quarantine restrictions, we know what it means.
Conclusion: the Mercado Iloilo Weekend Market has attained one important thing – it re-energized a community who is longing to defeat Covid-19.