31 Jul2012

This snapshot was taken a couple of days ago in front of the provincial capitol in Cebu City. It has always amazed me what ambulant vendors seem to be hawking at all hours of the day. Gone are the white bull led carts that were covered in all manner of baskets that you used to see in parts of Luzon and even Manila not too many decades ago. Lately, I have spied folks carrying all kinds of food and drink, long wires to de-clog your pipes, sunglasses, toys, plastic containers, plants and orchids, but perhaps the most impressive in terms of size are the folks seen carrying beds–yes–beds, as they walk around communities, hoping to make a sale. After all, if customers don’t come to your factory/showroom, why not take the products directly to their homes instead!? Here three guys apparently selling their newly finished benches, probably got tired walking all over the city, and decided to set the chairs down right on the sidewalk in front of the provincial capitol, and all three took a good nap at noon. Notice the “No Stopping” sign. :)

I have missed several great opportunities for photos from the front seat of our car in recent weeks. In one case, on EDSA, the main thoroughfare in Manila, I spotted a man on a motorcycle with an orange helmet, and behind him, a dog, also with an orange helmet, very adeptly balancing on all four legs on the back seat of the motorcycle. I was both amazed and mortified at the thought of the dog falling off at high speed, but he did manage to look right at home despite all the turns and weaving through vehicles going on. I wish my camera was handy for that snapshot. I also missed a photo of a motorcycle and driver in Cebu with at least 600 or more puso or coconut leaf wrapped rice parcels draped all over the bike, driver, etc. It was truly an amazing sight!



  1. netoy says:

    Why not take advantage of the shade brought forth by that big tree, right? As it is commonly said: Only in the Philippines.. (^_*)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 4:50 am


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  3. la emperor says:

    Recently , we had a good laugh on the topic of “papag vendors” when our house comedian commented. . “at least they get to sleep on the job”….:)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 5:05 am

  4. suspect1 says:

    TBH, it’s a really sad picture…

    if only our people would have a different mindset…

    at first i was amazed by the coolness – i.e. the happiness of the people in need – but nowadays i’m just shocked by the pinoy “culture” (or, whatever might have been left of it… if we ever had any…)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 5:20 am

  5. Stewart L. Sy says:

    I always have a camera with me…my cel phone. Most modern smart phones have half decent cameras built in. While not portfolio grade by any means, fun for sharing online.


    Jul 31, 2012 | 5:24 am

  6. Eight says:

    Jul 31, 2012 | 6:05 am

  7. Marketman says:

    Eight!, YES! That’s the dog!! But the time I saw him, he was BEHIND the driver, balancing on his own. Apparently he loves his motorcycle rides… :) suspect1, at least the three guys WERE working and trying to make a living by carrying the heavy pieces of furniture, looking for buyers. Nothing wrong with a siesta, my grandfather and father both took them daily whenever they could. And there are offices in Cebu that still shut down for some shut eye after lunch.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 6:18 am

  8. la emperor says:

    Ooppsss.. my comment earlier may sound a little insensitive. I hope I did not offend anyone. We were merely laughing at the irony of the situation. Someone working so hard, yet being able to sleep on the job. Almost like a Seinfeld joke. Peace.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 7:05 am

  9. PITS, MANILA says:

    There are vendors who start off as ambulatory but end up squatting wherever they can maximize their sale. If you happen to pass by A.H. Lacson Avenue (Governor Forbes to some), right in front of the UST gate … you’ll notice some vendors who already “live” there. You see them doing business (patrons include street law enforcers — haha?), having their meals, taking their siesta … traffic gives you access to this view. Where they ‘relieve’ themselves is another question I dare not ask.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 7:36 am

  10. Betchay says:

    I agree with Stewart…..cellphone camera is the answer to these unexpected moments!

    Jul 31, 2012 | 7:43 am

  11. ariel says:

    @ la emperor,

    Dont worry, I dont think your comment was offensive. I take this opportunity to make an observation about this phenomenon.

    My brod in law had expat bosses who saw this papag vendors for the first time. They couldnt believe that someone would exert that much effort to sell beds in that manner. They were asking questions like how many can you sell in one day in that manner, where do you get new stock once someone buys it, etc.

    Which brings me to my observation: there is no Tagalog word for “efficiency” . Or is there?
    What we have is masinop (diligent), masipag (hard-working), matiyaga (persistent) , mahusay (excellent) which captures nuances of the concept of efficiency, but no word for efficiency.

    Efficiency is effective use of resources- time, money, skill such that each is maximized in relation to output. We dont have a word for that, so we grapple with how to be efficient in our endeavors. Which is probably why many of us are still late for appointments, etc.

    What do readers think?

    Jul 31, 2012 | 7:46 am

  12. kakusina says:

    @suspect 1. I think the picture shows three tired men trying their best to make a living any way they can during these hard times.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 7:53 am

  13. Marketman says:

    ariel, that’s interesting, I never thought if we had a work for “efficiency”. Can’t find one for “anticipate” either.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 8:53 am

  14. Papa Ethan says:

    T-shirt logo of a “maglalako” cooperative : “United Ambulance Vendors” =)

    Once, I sat at a long and heated discussion between anthropologists on this subject of ambulant peddling. Apparently the practice is not peculiar to the Philippines. Besides, even the American consumerist infrastructure had its beginnings with salesmen who went from town to town carrying their product samples. I guess this makes them ambulant peddlers too, albeit in suits. If I remember correctly, the Mars Chocolate empire was started by one such character.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 9:20 am

  15. Mike says:

    Yes, studies after studies have shown the benefits of siestas and sleep in general. I still can’t believe why people still look down on people taking naps, when in fact it improves one’s efficiency at work and life in general. I guess it’s that condescending and colonial Northern European so-called work ethic. Hmmm, your capitol looks very clean and green and safe, really conducive for taking a nap, something I don’t think I’ll do in front of Manila City hall.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 9:21 am

  16. Heck says:

    Filipino counterpart for efficiency would normally depend on how you will use the word. But I believe the closest word we have is ‘mapahusay’, ‘mapagaling’ or ‘mapabuti’. In the sentence – We have added 5 million pesos in our annual budget to improve efficiency of our services …- we can use – upang lalong MAPABUTI ang aming paglilingkod.

    Anticipate on the other hand, is inaasahan or umaasa in Filipino. Again, it will depend on how you will use the word.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 9:35 am

  17. Marketman says:

    Papa Ethan, a good friend was classmates with the Mars kids, believe it or not. Talk about free product samples… :)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 9:37 am

  18. gensanite says:

    i think this is the Filipino counterpart of the “door-to-door salesmen” from the States; from back in the days when sales personnel would literally go “door-to-door” to sell their products/wares – from toothpastes, soaps, shampoos, detergents, cleaning agents, etc… we also have ambulant vendors in the provinces who would rent a jeepney and sell their wares – from arinolas, pails, palangganas, tabo, tuwalya, face towel, and different homewares on a “pautang basis”; that is, the payment is in installment and they would come back week after week para maningil and by the time that you’re “fully paid”, they have another set of items to sell… good business sense if you ask me – they jack up the price by up to twice the amount and the consumer would barely notice because of the installment payment… but i commend these people who struggle and earn an honest wage… i admire them even more because carrying these items around is not for the faint of heart because of the weight, and carrying it under the heat of the sun to boot – not to mention the occasional downpour… but this is definitely a “kodak moment” for you, MM… hope you can share with us more of these moments here… bon appetit!!! :)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 10:07 am

  19. james1 says:

    Hey, did you notice the road sign? No stopping anytime — yet the guys did stop and slept!

    Jul 31, 2012 | 10:27 am

  20. ariel says:

    To all who commented on “efficiency”, thanks.

    @Marketman, I had posed this question to Randy David, the sociologist and he couldnt come up with a word either. “Anticipate” probably translates to “mapaghandaan” . This runs counter to “Bahala na si Batman” (fatalism), but let’s not get into that. It will divert the discussion elsewhere. :)

    @ Papa Ethan, @Mike, @ gensanite,

    There’s no condescending tone here, and ambulant peddling and napping are not the issues.
    It’s the efficiency of the endeavor.

    It is an honest way to earn, but do you think lugging around a heavy object for how many hours and kilometers a day is the efficient way to do it? Not to mention the risk of damaging the product ( rain, sun, dropping it) before you can sell it? Imagine if you sold the unit you are carrying and you are already many kilometers away from the warehouse? Do you go back to it and lug around another one? :)

    Why not go around with brochures or a scale model of the product instead? ( I was going to say why not a website, but this may not be the market for online selling. )

    Jul 31, 2012 | 10:43 am

  21. ami says:

    Hi MM, sorry to nitpick, but I think you meant hawking and not ‘hocking’ in your 2nd sentence?

    Jul 31, 2012 | 11:07 am

  22. Marketfan says:

    those look like nice benches..they’re not the same as the ones I see being carried around here in Manila..the ones here are just the “papag” type

    Jul 31, 2012 | 12:00 pm

  23. terrey says:

    This is a picture that I will show to my kid…that it is not easy to earn money! Some people just have to carry that load to sell with no guarantee that someone will buy it which brings me to share this – a few months ago (or has it been a year already) some women from the boondocks came to our barangay with basketful loads of their harvests (banana, tomatoes, etc) and we were just on “tambay” mode in our small porch and these women called out to us to buy their goods. We asked how long have they been walking with the load they were carrying and they said since early morning (and it was already around 1 in the afternoon.) Out of pity, we bought the bananas but my father after hearing their plight bought everything to the dismay of my mother. Since then, the lady vendor stops by the house almost every week and though we may not buy all of the goods she’s selling but we buy most just so to ease off the vendor’s burden. Some of us are just plain lucky to be on a desk’s job and still can afford to read MM’s blog when bored with our work! :)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 12:06 pm

  24. wendy darling says:

    @ ami – sorry to put you wrong, but you are (no offense intended). “to hawk” is to sell, while “to hock” is to pawn

    I still keep my trusty Sony in my bag most days – it’s been thru a lot with me, and takes pretty good pictures despite being a point-and-shoot, not to mention the unintentional artsy effects (yep, I shlep around a big bag, too).

    I would too buy those daybeds – not only do they have a timeless look, they’ve also been thoroughly road (and sleep) tested. And probably put that picture nearby as a reminder (would you be so kind as to autograph it for me, MM?). Now if I can only figure out how to get those things shipped back from Cebu …

    Jul 31, 2012 | 12:51 pm

  25. Dianne says:

    MM, the comments section on your blog is as interesting as your posts :) very informative, indeed!

    whenever I see all sorts of ambulant vendors who sell ice cream, fishball, fruits, balut, papags, fountains, all sorts of plasticware, etc, even the umbrella and shoe repair man, i can’t help but take pity on them but then i admire them because i know they are doing their best to make an honest living. some wear shoes, slippers and clothes that have seen better days, while others seem to make an effort to dress presentably. i may not be able to buy from them so i just say a short prayer for them. that they get to sell all of their wares that day, that God take care of them as they walk kilometers everyday, that they be able to provide for their families, especially for their kids who go to school, that life will be easier for them in the future :) apologies for the mushiness…

    Jul 31, 2012 | 1:30 pm

  26. RobKSA says:

    efficient = mahusay or mabisa …..

    Jul 31, 2012 | 1:38 pm

  27. Marketman says:

    ami and wendy, mea culpa, I did indeed mean to say hawking (as in “ambulant vendors selling” rather than “hocking” as in pawning… but thanks for catching that. Will revise post now.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 2:37 pm

  28. cindy says:

    i believe mahusay / mabisa translates to Effective and not Efficient.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 3:52 pm

  29. Heck says:

    I just noticed that those beds got some details in their legs. And the tips or wings were not badly made too. I guess, it would be more interesting if these vendors are selling the Mariposa type. That will be heavy. I just hope no one attempts to hawk an entire Ah Tay set on our streets.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 3:59 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    Heck, if these were Ah Tey, I would dash out of the car to bargain… :)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 4:13 pm

  31. ariel says:

    While we are on the subject of funny signs and city halls, I once took a shot of a sign in Pasig City Hall which said, ” Starting on Monday, parking will not be allowed in areas where the No Parking sign is posted.”

    Also, I always smile at the series of signages in South Expressway, northbound, where the ban on swerving is served in varying degrees: No swerving, swerving not allowed, strictly no swerving.

    Talk about shades of meaning!
    ha ha ha ha

    Jul 31, 2012 | 4:33 pm

  32. Lei says:

    MM, you may want to grey out the license plate of the vehicle included in the picture. I learned that for security purposes, it is now best to blur/grey out the license plates on pictures posted on the internet because some unscrupulous individuals like car-napping syndicates sometimes get the information from the internet, they even found one Pajero make with the same color and plate number. Just for security purposes and suggestion. Thanks MM! =)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 5:49 pm

  33. dhanggit says:

    I had big smile on my face reading this post but more importantly perusing “all the comments” :-) nice to see this exchange of keen thoughts on the issue. Feels like I’m in a classroom where everyone else is putting their heads together on the topic threwn by the prof..

    Jul 31, 2012 | 5:53 pm

  34. Marketman says:

    Lei, done, thanks for that suggestion. I would never have thought of that. I understand.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 5:55 pm

  35. Lei says:

    MM, you’re most welcome! That is what I like most in this blog, you are one person who has very high standards when it comes to integrity and professionalism.

    In fact, I learned from you the importance of valuing the privacy of individuals. Now, I don’t even just post pictures of my child in my social network, I usually just post pictures of her back in order to protect and safeguard as well her privacy & identity. Thanks again!

    Jul 31, 2012 | 6:04 pm

  36. wendy darling says:

    @ Cindy and @ RobKSA – believe it or not, you’re both simultaneously correct and not (!)

    MM is right in saying that “efficient” does not seem have a single word Tagalog equivalent. The closest seems to be the phrase “bisa ng paggawa”. I will have to ask my dad, who grew up using the really deep idiomatic expressions (Tagalog ni Balagtas, as they call it), if there is a better equivalent.

    OT: If you really want to entertain yourselves on Tagalog-English translations, try this one = What is the correct English translation for the Tagalog word “SA”? Never fails to entertain my family, since we keep score of how mangled an attempted anglicized translation comes across (in fact, my cousins and I try to outdo each other on the latest mangled version someone’s come up with).

    Jul 31, 2012 | 6:50 pm

  37. millet says:

    and those couches don’t look bad either! all over the country, i’m amazed at the size and volume of goods that are transported manually. no business for U-Haul here!

    Jul 31, 2012 | 7:00 pm

  38. EbbaBlue says:

    My house in Quezon Province is located along the railroad. A kilometer from the actual drop-off/crossing street. Water (lake and fishpond) surround these town. And so these vendors have to walk straight along the rails to sell their ware. I saw 2 guys carrying a whole “aparador” and lamesa.

    MM, one time, I was lucky to have my camera on hand, and was able to take a picture of fish mongers, newly catched fish on big buckets tied on each end of the bamboo pole resting on their shoulder. There were two of them, the other carries knives and chopping board – to be use for cleaning and cutting fish as per customer’s request. And they carry baon with them too, kasi maghapon daw ang paglalako nila. Kung maubos man or hindi ang paninda nila, they have to walk back straight along the riles to get back to town.

    Minsan naman, yung mga naglalako ng tinapa, ang bilao nakapatong sa ulo nila.

    Ganyan naman talaga ang buhay; I have seen children selling “uling” in small sako na pinapasan nila in their neck. Mahaba ang railroad town na ito, almost 6 kilometers, and I know that these vendors won’t stop walking till maubos ang paninda nila – so they will go all the way till they reach the house at the end.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 8:47 pm

  39. Isagarch says:

    Here in the boonies, I am constantly amazed at what you can fit in or on a tricycle! A family of 10? A large pig, even a full grown cow. Not to mention full sheets of plywood, cement, etc.

    Jul 31, 2012 | 8:55 pm

  40. risa says:

    They say that Raul Manglapus was a big fan of napping. They also say he would change into PJs and nap in a room in his office during lunch.

    Anyone please tell me if this is not true. But I would like to believe it still :)

    Jul 31, 2012 | 11:19 pm

  41. suspect1 says:

    @ kakusina:

    i understand very well, these people worked hard for these products..!

    maybe i’m just too accustomed to a different sales-culture – sorry, if i offended anyone..!

    don’t want to make it too political, but i still believe the philippines would be better off with an overhaul of it’s educational system!

    Aug 1, 2012 | 4:56 am

  42. Lizzie says:

    I love the bench they’re selling. That would make a great patio daybed…

    Aug 1, 2012 | 6:38 am

  43. Marnie says:

    I remember one ambulant vendor selling a double wardrobe/clothes cabinet which he lugged around on his back when I was a kid living in Panay Ave., QC.
    There was also this man who used to sell genuine (gen-wine) wool cloth. He would sprinkle some lighter fluid on it, light it up and show that it did not burn, thus, a genuine wool cloth. I don’t think my mother ever fell for that.

    Aug 1, 2012 | 2:48 pm

  44. Jim says:

    There’s a guy who I often see at the junction of Buendia and Paseo de Roxas who sells … coat stands. Big chrome ones. I guess he must sell them occasionally, otherwise he wouldn’t still be there, but I can’t really understand why anyone would be sitting in their car and be thinking “I really need a coat stand. If only there was someone around who … wait a second! That’s the exact type of coat stand I was after! Sold!”

    Aug 2, 2012 | 8:58 am

  45. jakbkk says:

    Aug 2, 2012 | 1:48 pm

  46. ChefMom says:

    @jim, same thing for annoying agents offering loans and selling condos via text. Do you honestly think I will buy a condo from some unknown texter? seriously annoying!
    @MM sorry i know it’s a little off topic haha

    Aug 3, 2012 | 2:38 pm

  47. bakasaurus says:

    We in Cebu are proud of our handcrafted furniture, and confident in their quality that we can take them out on the streets, exposed to the effects of weather, sleep on them, and still think we can sell them…hahaha.

    Aug 5, 2012 | 11:35 pm


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