The Mantalongon Vegetable Market


The Mantalongon vegetable market is essentially a “bagsakan” or wholesale trading post. Farmers from the nearby areas load up their harvest of vegetables into HUMONGOUS baskets and make their way on foot to the nearest roadway and head to market in a tricycle or jeep. I was a bit disappointed by the limited selection of vegetables (say only 12-15 types) but the volume of goods changing hands was impressive nonetheless. We were there on a Thursday, the busiest trading day, and the cavernous gym area was only about 2/3 filled with vendors. Wholesale buyers from Cebu city arrive in medium sized trucks and load up on vegetables, buying by the basket or lot of 60-180 kilos.


Many of the veggies that arrived were “cleaned up” or sorted and re-packed in baskets that were labelled by weight. The native or localized bell peppers were utterly gorgeous… These aren’t as meaty or sweet as the more western style capsicum, but these are delicious if roasted and drizzled with olive oil!


This much cabbage would yield enough gas to power a small hot air balloon!


If you could blow up this photo, you would see the details of the grains on the cabbage leaves and they are quite stunning.


Not sure what the name of this vegetable is… :)


The most enormous and stunning looking sayotes I have ever seen…


Napa cabbage…


Very green beans…


Irregularly sized carrots…


…and kamote or sweet potatoes. We managed to buy semi-retail amounts (say 5+ kilos) at very reasonable prices and all in all it was definitely worth the early morning trip to experience the Mantalongon market. A few of the photos in this post were taken by members of my office crew and used with their permission.

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37 Responses

  1. Pit Senor MM! Sinulog in Cebu and at the same time Fiesta in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island. Wish we were there.
    Where is Mantolongon? This sight is so familiar. There’s a place between Carmen and Catmon that we see such trading day.
    I must admit those sweet potato are so inviting and sure lami in the tummy. I wish I can get my hand on those cabage and will buy 10 kilos for my sauerkraut.

  2. Hmmm, that could be the rarely seen couch potato, normally only found in N. America, must have been transplanted in Cebu, playing dead out of fatigue or jetlag.

    Those cabbages remind me of the trucks of cabbages in Northern China, you’d see a hill of them on the street, and people lined up to buy their allotment.

  3. Our farmers deserve a big round of applause and fat incentives from our government for their great production of hard labor. Their never ending job to make a living is really admirable from tilling the soil, irrigating, harvesting and transporting their produce to wholesale market via tricycle or jeep is simply amazing. I can picture them with half of their butt out in the vehicle trying to squeeze Most of them are down on their knees and never give up. I find it very sad from what I read in Bolante’s testimony before our kangaroo Senate hearing. Looks like to me Bolante is in a cesspool but will eventually come out clean and a free man. To our farmers I dedicate the famous song of the Beatles to all of you “A Hard Day’s Night.” Let’s support our local farmers and eat more vegetables and kamote!

  4. MM, did you get to see them farmers come down the mountain carrying their humongous baskets to market? It’s a pity sight to see…The baskets are almost twice the size of whoever is carrying them. Still can’t comprehend why the government can’t build honest-to-goodness farm-to-market roads.

  5. Looking at the carrots from Mantalongon reminds me of a story my municipal councilor friend from Dalaguete told me. He once accompanied some barangay councilors from Mantalongon on an “educational tour” in Manila and part of their unofficial R & R was a visit to a girly bar. The barangay councilors were amazed at how “beautiful” the bar girls were. Apparently, most were firstimers. One councilor who was a farmer in Mantalongon was so mesmerized with the smell of one of the girls that he inticed his companion, saying “Humota aning mga babaye sa Manila uy. Ug mag-ayo ang sunod harvest sa akong carrots, mamalik ta dire…”

  6. Ley, hahaha, I was so sure you were going to end that comment by saying the girls at the girlie bar weren’t really girls… carrots have benefits.

  7. from the strap of that sayote basket I can imagine that goes over the head and those baskets are bigger than the person carrying it…

    oh missing cebu so badly right now…..

  8. Thats a very interesting tour of the “pagsakan”. The one near Baguio should be interesting as well :) One of my resolutions this year is to buy direct from farmers as much as possible. I once heard that it is more profitable to process produce than to grow them — poor farmers :(

  9. first, i didn’t know there was such a fruit as tambis, (though i’ve been eating pink macopas since i was small), then this highland village market in cebu that looks like the ones in benguet or baguio, (the temperature must have been chilly, i noticed the vendors in parkas or jackets). that’s why i love reading your blog, i learn something new everyday.very nice pics, MM.

  10. maria clara: i second the motion on eating more veg and kamote! boiled kamote in the morning. mmm. :)

  11. Mantalongon has improved if they actually have a covered market, in Lola’s days in the fifties all transactions were done by the side of the road. However the vegetables seem to be the same. Maybe the farmers need to be encouraged to diversufy their produce. MM you could become a “SEEDman”.

  12. Mantalongon has improved if they actually have a covered market, in Lola’s days in the fifties all transactions were done by the side of the road. However the vegetables seem to be the same. Maybe the farmers need to be encouraged to diversify their produce. MM you could become a “SEEDman”. If they can raise good cabbage it’s cool enough for legumes, beets, potatoes, herbs, etc.

  13. Ley, that story made me laugh out loud. Thanks, it’s been a tough week and I needed that! :-) Diday and Artisan Chocolatier, I know that song, too, and sometimes sing it to amuse my nephews. MM, these veggies look much much better than those I saw in the market. Hadn’t considered what you said about the low likelihood of harvesting on Christmas or the day after. My first time to hear the term ‘Napa cabbage’, looks similar to Chinese pechay, no?

  14. Reminds me of Trinidad Valley in Baguio. It must also be cold…by some of their clothing…Really big sayote huh….

  15. Ok… guess is the plants are nourished with FISH fertilizer…in other words, FISH GUTS AND SEAWEEDS are buried while prepping the bed for planting. On top of that, maybe horse manure from the kalesas pulled by horses…do they still have that there?….am I grossing anyone?….hahahaha…

    Anyway, yup, it may seem “ewwww”..but that is what we do here in the organic community garden I belong! And I have the biggest KALABAZA ever grown in the garden…a 38.5 pounder which the Food Bank was happy to receive!

  16. what lovely produce!! there’s nothing like fresh cabbage in meat-bone soups…i love those markets!

    yes, bettyq–we should encourage organic gardening in the phil..

  17. Yes, I wish the farmers can be provided good farm to market roads and be able to fully use the internet to get good prices for their produce thereby eliminating the middle men who get the lion’s share of the profits. I believe being a farmer is one of the noblest jobs in the world. Imagine providing food for millions of people. I would really love to buy those lovely produce.

  18. natie and bettyq, I suspect most backyard gardening in the Philippines is in fact organic, as most would not invest in artificial fertilizers. Many commercial rice growing and orchard operations are likely using fertilizers and pesticides. But the backyard malunggay, pandan, pechay, tanglad, sili, kamatis, talong is probably as “organic” as it gets. As for the veggies farmed around mantalongon, I suspect they must use some pesticides and fertilizers…

  19. Mantalongon farmers, like their counterparts in Benguet, apply pesticides excessively because traders and consumers put a premium on the cosmetic appearance of vegetables. Not an insect bite on the leaf of crucifers which are vulnerable to attack by the diamondback moth. Even vegetable growers in Central Luzon admitted dipping their ampalaya which are still hanging in the trellises in a “tabo” of insecticide solution even 3 days before harvest. It is scary to buy unblemished vegies. MM, my work on pest management communication and policy analyses brings me in contact with farmers and their horror stories. Makahadlok gyud!

  20. moni, nahadlok na jud ko.. Anyway, your post reminded me of the time when I asked Ma why she kept buying cabbages with some worm-eaten “spots”. Her answer was that vegetables with “spots” ensure that the veggies are pesticide-free.

  21. Mantalongon is a barrio in Dalaguete, Cebu.
    Elevation is high – more than a thousand feet above sea level. It is cold there, a jacket is a necessity at night. Sayote grows like weeds in the place. Just like the sayote growing in Baguio.
    The road going to Mantalongon before was tortuous. I understand it is not as dangerous as it was before.
    People in nearby Butong, Argao, Cebu however bring their sayote and cabbages to Argao.

  22. I would say the human vegetable is dead tired.I agree with your reader that to improve the economic condition of our farmers is to build infrastructure to facilitate access from point of production to the point of sale.But of course with corrupt officials,what do you expect.
    MM ,do you think those sayotes are overgrown? Are they still tender with that size?

  23. Happy New Year Market Man!

    I so enjoyed this post! Especially that strange looking vegetable :D

    Those sayotes are huge indeed. they look like papayas!

  24. Thanks for the info moni. That is really scary. I hope I can just be successful in raising vegetables.

  25. the sayotes are ginormous. are they still sweet even if they seem like they’ve stayed a little bit too long on the vine?

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