Roadside Fruit & Vegetable Stands


There are several “clumps” of roadside produce stands on the drive back from Baguio to Manila. The section with watermelons is one of the most visually arresting of them all, and it is hard to resist a quick stop to acquire a melon or two. I was particularly intrigued by the bright yellow skinned watermelons that stood out in a sea of dark green…


I always find it difficult to select watermelons as you can’t determine sweetness, nor can you tell if it is a bit to a lot overripe, and has reached that “cotony” or “wooly” stage. Banking on the vendor, we purchased one yellow and one green watermelon. They turned out to be horrific. Way past the ripe stage and not very sweet. Of course you wouldn’t drive back to the vendor to complain. Hence, this last experience (a repeated one) has finally convinced me NEVER to buy watermelons on the drive back from Baguio…. :(


The singkamas were a slighly different matter. You could tell just how fresh they were (from the amount of soil still on them and the greeness of some leaves still left on the bunches), and they would let you taste them if you liked. Always have a pen knife handy for such occasions and bargain well. We ended up with several bunches that were superb eaten fresh or lightly pickled.


We also wanted to purchase some fresh peanuts, and the Manang at this stand allowed me to apprentice as her “salesperson” for a photo opp, scooping up peanuts by the can and wrapping them up in plastic bags. She was amused to let me behind the counter for a few minutes. If only another car had stopped to buy some peanuts…


A quick check of the peanuts revealed some nice looking nuts, so we ended up with several kilos for everyone to take home…


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25 Responses

  1. the peanuts and the singkamas look good and the singkamas are just the right size.

    my husband once told me that you could also tell if a watermelon has just been picked or already a few days in the produce stands–you check their “tangkay” if its still fresh or almost dry already.

    I’m intrigued as well with the yellow skinned watermelons, were they from a different variety or something?

  2. boiled fresh sampaloc juice, bagoong, and boiled peanuts over rice = heaven! The last time I had some was when I was 10 years old, 50 years ago.

  3. @thel: I eat bagoong and peanuts too! Fried peanuts though, with bagoong alamang and steaming hot rice. Sometimes with a lakatan banana thrown in for some sweetness and change in texture. I learned that from my mom. =)

  4. You should ask the watermelon vendors to take a sample to show you. They make those triangle cuts, stick the knife into the rind and show it to you. That way, they don’t hold the slice :) Then they put back that slice to make the watermelon whole again. I prefer that, than always being sorry for a bad choice.

  5. zena, I thought I am the only one who eats fried (or boiled) peanuts with their meal, specifically with binagoongan/adobo, and sometimes ginataang chicken/pork. My hipag thinks I am weird. I remember, my mom eats the same way.

    On my trip to Quezon last year, (on a old-train station track village), hinabol ko pa yung mama na may dala-dalang small size yellow pakwan. Sa sarili daw niyang farm. I bought the whole sack which yielded about a dozen watermelon and proudly pinamigay ko. Ay, sus, when I came home and cut it, naku po, ang tabang-tabang na maasim. Ewan ko ba.

  6. this is one of the best things that can happen in a rural drive. i love it! what i miss most is driving to tagaytay and stopping by a million times for fresh fruits, coffee and bulalo. it is always a joy to interact with the vendors and their stories.

    On a side note, P-noy’s inaugural speech yesterday gave daylight to our farmers with this bit:

    “We are directing Secretary Alcala to set up trading centers that will directly link farmers and consumers thereby eliminating middlemen and opportunities for corruption. In this way, funds can be shared by farmers and consumers.”

  7. For watermelons, I ALWAYS check the underside of the melon…the side resting on the ground…Dark Yellow underside indicates the melon was harvested at the right stage of ripening. If it is creamy white, it was harvested too soon. Also, I look for firm skin and the heavy ones. I do not rely on the tindera to pick one for me. I figured unless they are the growers, their guess is as good as any one out there. So, try buying one MM with the dark yellow underside next time. But as Jack’s husband said…if you find one with a fresh looking tangkay and YELLOW underside, you’ve hit the jackpot of watermelons!

    Did I hit the mark, Kurzhaar? …right, no?

    Jack, Ebba: yellow sknned watermelon could be Golden Midget…it is ice box size…now it might be difficult to gauge if the underside is dark yellow for the ENTIRE melon is dark yellow. But you will know which side rests on the ground…it is rough skinned and has ridges for it takes the shape or the surface texture of the ground…look for that spot and if it is NOT creamy white, then it is ripe!

    Pero sayang….I tried to grow the seedless variety this year…red and yellow flesh but the weather is not cooperating. So, like my arm , my watermelon patch is a total write-off this year. BUT there is always NEXT YEAR!!!

  8. Driving down from the Manaoag church back to our place in Tarlac, we spied some good looking langka on the street and decided to stop too. My tita was intent on buying one, and we discovered while bargaining with the tindero that they didn’t even grow it themselves! They just bought it from someone else, same with the other roadside vendors! Talk about disappointing. My tita still bought one and the taste was disappointing too. So much for homegrown.

  9. How do you know if the watermelon is pink/yellow inside?

    BTW boiled or fried peanuts is very common to eat with rice in Asia. China, Malaysia, singapore, Indonesia so we are not unique :). In Singapore/Malaysia they eat it together with fried dilis and their belachan chilli together with a coconut rice which is well known as “Nasi Lemak”.

  10. Are the bright yellOw skinned watermelons as yellow inside? MM, are you back from your trip abroad?

    Betty Q: what happened to your arm? was that the reason you were out of circulation for a while? I hope you’re better now. Take care.

  11. I love boiled peanuts with boiled rice, especially with pork chops and bagoong! Yummo! It was four years ago when I had such fare in my mother’s barrio in Tarlac…
    My Inang taught us never to buy a fruit that is not in season, chances were that we would get disappointed.

  12. According to an FAO commissioned study ( 1996 but updated 2004 ), philippine land mass utilization accounts for roughly 10M herctares allocated to agriculture or almost 33% of total land mass. This ranks second to forestry which has 19M or 65% of land mass. Most our soil is ultisols or red clay soil. Now with increased mining, deforestation, and a population encroaching into agricultural space, our soil composition takes a different complexion simply because absorption and type of nutrient mix change accordingly. Melons aren’t the only casualty. Simply put, if you a good melon, chances are it either grew in some place unaffected by encroachment or its environment , perhaps even the product itself, was “treated” to simulate a good environment. That said, our soil is now probably conducive to ONLY SPECIFIC types of produce. I also want to say that my comments are purely personal opinion and should be treated only as opinion. Thanks

  13. bettyq, what happened to you arm? i may have missed reading about it earlier.

    MM, here in davao we can always ask the vendors to cut a cone-shaped piece of the watermelon so we get to check the flavor and texture before buying it (exactly the way solraya described it),although i know some vendors in touristy areas would not agree to this.

  14. My dad in law always buy watermelon or “pakwan” at the bagsakan area near Munoz Market. He has a way of knowing which ones are fresh & juicy by knocking on it. I have never asked what kind of sound he is always looking for but the ones he buy for us are always good.

  15. My lolo make “pitik” to the watermelon to know if it’s a good one. I am always amaze how he determines the ripeness/sweetness by the sound of “pitik” and he usually get a good one. Here in Qatar, watermelon is very cheap but I always get disappointed after cutting and tasting it so I never buy unless it’s pre-cut…

  16. We bought some yellow melons in Pangasinan last January on the way back from Bolinao and they were superb … the sweetest juiciest melons I have ever eaten anywhere.

    Unfortunately I think it was blind luck because despite trying all the supposedly expert tricks, I still have no way of picking a good melon from a dud.

  17. What I was told by a watermelon grower was: nice weight for the size, yellow on the side where it sat (like bettyq says), and a certain dullness or hollowness to the sound if you thump it with your fist. Also in most varieties the stem starts to shrivel when the melon is near ripe. Melons don’t ripen after being picked so must be picked ripe.

  18. I am lucky because when the groceries here advertise that their watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, cherries are sweet they are really sweet . They had to do it right because of tight competition. The price is right too.

  19. Just wondering if you were in the Tarlac area when you bought those fruits as Moncada is known to have those fruit stands along the highway to and from Baguio-Manila.

  20. @Betchay, yung dilaw na pakwan pula rin ang loob. Though, meron talagang yellow na pakwan (nakita ko sa SM Hypermart fruit bar). Nakabili nga ako nyang yellow sa may Tarlac. Mas mahal siya kesa dun sa pula, pero sobrang tabang, tsaka ang putla. Parang naloko yata ako ng tindera, sabi nya Japan variety daw. Kasi meron silang naka-display na super red yung loob, pero yung nabili ko parang giant pipino lang sa putla.

  21. Ok, thanks Joe of Rizal.Nakabili na rin ako nung yellow pakwan sa SnR before.Luckily matamis yung nabili ko.Walang kwenta talaga kung matabang ang pakwan parang uminom ka lang ng tubig!LOL.Pero I remember nung medyo bata-bata pa ako meron din pakwan na kulay yellow-orange ang loob.Is this still available?

  22. I got lucky with some locally-grown yellow watermelons last summer. Super sweet! Must have had something to do with the heat-wave as they thrive in hot weather. Joe of Rizal, I’ve read somewhere that yellows are generally sweeter than reds; it was certainly true in my case. Maybe next time you’ll hit the jackpot–don’t give up on them just yet! (BTW, when I said yellow, I wasn’t referring to the skin.) Also, don’t throw away the rind; it makes for great atchara! See here:

  23. Generally, sweetness would be dependent on how hot the season has been Really hot would yield very sweet fruits (those that are harvested soil level like pakwan, melons, berries, etc).

  24. Too bad you had a blah experience with the yellow-skinned watermelons. Probably because the season for it has passed. I got introduced to them last summer and we enjoyed them at home immensely.

    Maybe you can try your luck again with them during the summer months… :)


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