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Home Public Life Strolling the streets

Strolling the streets

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Editor’s Note: The government’s news agency reported on August 13 that more than 4,000 illegal structures were up for demolition in Bacolod City. The clearing operations of illegal structures and the streets surrounding them were triggered by an order from President Duterte who wanted streets cleared of vendors and vehicles. This order closely followed the high-profile clearing operations Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso or Isko Moreno had ordered in his city. Thirteen days after the clearing started in the city, our reporter Lourdes Rae Antenor took a stroll through our streets. This is not comprehensive. This is just a glimpse into what is happening.

BACOLOD CITY – With the clearing operation of the streets of Bacolod city now well underway, the look of uncertainty is clearly etched among the faces of the vendors who have called the market areas their ‘home’ for more than a decade.

BACOLOD has three major wet and dry public markets - South or Libertad, North or Burgos, and Central - through which 12 streets pass through - Burgos, Galo, Daniel Ramos, Gonzaga, Luzuriaga, San Juan, Libertad or Hernaez, Amelia, Lopez Jaena, and Mabini. This is the juncture of Amelia and Lopez Jaena Streets, the southern spine of the Libertad Public Market. The portion of Amelia you can see used to be passable to only one vehicle as it was choked by vendors lining both sides of the road. |Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
BACOLOD has three major wet and dry public markets – South or Libertad, North or Burgos, and Central – through which 12 streets pass through – Burgos, Galo, Daniel Ramos, Gonzaga, Luzuriaga, San Juan, Libertad or Hernaez, Amelia, Lopez Jaena, and Mabini. This is the juncture of Amelia and Lopez Jaena Streets, the southern spine of the Libertad Public Market. The portion of Amelia you can see used to be passable to only one vehicle as it was choked by vendors lining both sides of the road. | Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

What’s next now?  What about their means of livelihood? 

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From Libertad to Central Market, the newly-opened up road lanes are a sight to behold. 

Gone are the brittle old bamboo stalls that have withstood countless of storms and Christmas rushes, gone is the usual hustle and bustle of vendors calling the attention of the buyers offering them the best discounted prices, gone is the smell of the rotting fruit which had the misfortune of rolling off the makeshift display stand and got ran over by the passing jeep. 

Riding a jeepney from Libertad to Central Market was a breeze. 

BY HINDSIGHT, some drivers say clearing the streets did some good to them. Joebert Guillano has been driving a public utility jeepney for 10 years. He thinks driving along his route is faster now. The faster the travel, the better for his income... |Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
BY HINDSIGHT, some drivers say clearing the streets did some good to them. Joebert Guillano has been driving a public utility jeepney for 10 years. He thinks driving along his route is faster now. The faster the travel, the better for his income… | Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

Cars, both public and private, are flowing through the streets faster than they have ever before as attested to by Joebert Guillano, who has been driving that route for almost 10 years.

“Naga pasalamat guid kami nga nag hawan, eh kay indi traffic, mas dasig kami makalabay (I’m thankful they’re gone; there’s less traffic now, so we can move faster),” he said, adding, “Sang nag ligad ‘ya sang wala pa ni nahawanan pwerte guid ‘ya ka traffic… Pabor guid sa amon ang pag hawan.

"Before the clearing operations, traffic was really terrible… It’s advantageous for us drivers,” Joebert Guillano, a driver says in Hiligaynon. |Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
“Before the clearing operations, traffic was really terrible… It’s advantageous for us drivers,” Joebert Guillano, a driver says in Hiligaynon. | Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
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(Before the clearing operations, traffic was really terrible… It’s advantageous for us drivers.” 

From a citizen’s point of view, there is an obvious advantage that the roads have been cleared up and decongested. 

AND ON THE 13TH DAY, there were roads again. Lopez Jaena-Amelia juncture almost two weeks after clearing started. |Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
AND ON THE 13TH DAY, there were roads again. Lopez Jaena-Amelia juncture almost two weeks after clearing started. | Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

Parked cars now take up the areas where vendors used to out scream each other. 

A SECTION of Luzuriaga Street in the downtown area bound by Gatuslao to the east and Araneta to the west. Gaisano Main was one of the first few malls to open in the city. Shown here is its side entrance. Near Gaisano are footwear stores that Bacolodnons used to frequent before the opening of mega malls. This area used to be clogged with jeepneys plying southern routes and street vendors displaying their wares on both sides of the street.|Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
A SECTION of Luzuriaga Street in the downtown area bound by Gatuslao to the east and Araneta to the west. Gaisano Main was one of the first few malls to open in the city. Shown here is its side entrance. Near Gaisano are footwear stores that Bacolodnons used to frequent before the opening of mega malls. This area used to be clogged with jeepneys plying southern routes and street vendors displaying their wares on both sides of the street.| Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

Stepping into the market areas however, there is a certain sound that once taken away has left a strange silence.

NOONBREAK: A vendor of assorted goods and produce take a nap along the busy Galo Street along which the side entrance of the Burgos or North Public Market is located.|Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
NOONBREAK: A vendor of assorted goods and produce take a nap along the busy Galo Street along which the side entrance of the Burgos or North Public Market is located.| Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

Where are the market-goers? 

Elizabeth Villacampa has been a seller at the Libertad market for 30 years. Whatever she earns, she uses to send her grandkids to school.

THE OTHER SIDE. The streets may have been cleared but Elizabeth Villacampa is confused as to where to get the next meal as her street vending had been affected. |Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
THE OTHER SIDE. The streets may have been cleared but Elizabeth Villacampa is confused as to where to get the next meal as her street vending had been affected. | Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

As she talks, she exudes an energy that was once reserved for convincing customers to purchase her pineapples and sayote. In an hour spent talking with her, only one customer has approached and asked how much a kilo of santol would cost.

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As the customer turned her back on the P20-price range, Elizabeth slumped back on her wooden chair. 

“Sobra guid na epektohan ‘mi ya. Indi ra mi ka display (We are greatly affected.  We can no longer display our goods),” she said, adding, “Amon gani na paninguha nga mag sugot ang mayor nga 6 to 6 para maka kaon kami, kay kung dili siya mag sugot wala guid kami kaunon

(We’re just hoping that the mayor will agree to let us display our goods from six in the morning to six in the afternoon. Otherwise, we will have nothing to eat).”

“Sobra guid na apektohan ‘mi ya. Indi ra mi ka display (We are greatly affected. We can no longer display our goods),” says Elizabeth Villacampa, street vendor. |Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
“Sobra guid na apektohan ‘mi ya. Indi ra mi ka display (We are greatly affected. We can no longer display our goods),” says Elizabeth Villacampa, street vendor. | Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

She briefly shifts her attention to her grandson who is playing nearby and, without the need for persuasion, continues with her statement. 

“Akon mga apo naga eskwela, kinsay akon ipamplete? Wala na (My grandson is still going to school.  Where would we get the money for his fare? None),” she said, as she bemoans the fact that they are no longer allowed to display their wares. 

DEMOLITION MEN: Employees of the City Legal Enforcement Unit prepare to take down an illegal structure along Margarita and Lopez Jaena Streets near the Libertad Public Market. |Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles
DEMOLITION MEN: Employees of the City Legal Enforcement Unit prepare to take down an illegal structure along Margarita and Lopez Jaena Streets near the Libertad Public Market. | Photo by Lourdes Rae Antenor, text by Julius D. Mariveles

Passing by later that afternoon, the clearing operations have begun again and Elizabeth and her grandson are nowhere to be seen.

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