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 co
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.
What’s next now? What about their means of livelihood?
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.
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.”
From a citizen’s point of view, there is an obvious advantage that the roads have been cleared up and decongested.
Parked cars now take up the areas where vendors used to out scream each other.
Stepping into the market areas however, there is a certain sound that once taken away has left a strange silence.
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.
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.
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).”
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.
Passing by later that afternoon, the clearing operations have begun again and Elizabeth and her grandson are nowhere to be seen.