Friday, August 29, 2008


This was where my brothers, cousins and I used to buy the fabrics for our shirts and trousers. It was a time when custom-tailored clothing was de rigueur, while ready-to-wear was still at its infancy.

The fabrics used in those trendy clothes worn by our favorite pop stars as featured in teen magazines, or in those glossy Japanese men's magazines, could be found at Central Market -- from Oxford cottons to Indian madras, and from corduroys to denims. And the local tailor could easily make any piece of clothing that you wanted as long as he was shown a picture of it.

When I came back to Manila a few years ago, many of the local tailors and dressmakers had closed shop; the influx of ready-to-wear clothing -- both locally-produced and imported -- had made them extinct. Consequently, many of the fabric and haberdashery establishments at Central Market had also disappeared, to be replaced by the abundance of frame shops and ironically, ready-to-wear and ukay-ukay stalls.

Located at Fugoso Street and Quezon Boulevard in Santa Cruz, Manila, Central Market went through a major renovation during the Atienza administration. However, despite its airy and refurbished setting, it no longer attracts as large a crowd as it used to. But nonetheless, with its wet market, Central Market appears to amply serve the Manileños of the southeastern district.


Related link:

Tupe: a frame shop at Central Market

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posted by Señor Enrique at 6:19 AM


Blogger Photo Cache said...

Thanks for these photos senor. Another trip down memory lane for me. I don't particularly remember it this way, it looks cleaner, but the tug at the heart strings tell me I have good memories right there.

August 29, 2008 8:27 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Central Market looks neat and clean, I can shop there all day. :)

"However, despite its airy and refurbished setting, it no longer attracts as large a crowd as it used to."

It's because people now go to malls, Eric.

Giant malls like SM and Robinson's have invaded the provinces as well... thus "killing" the businesses of local, smaller malls and department stores that many have opted to close. Ah, greed.

August 29, 2008 8:31 AM  

Blogger the donG said...

never been to that place yet. looks like a nice place to stroll.

August 29, 2008 8:45 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Central Market, when I returned to Manila, was very much decrepit and dingy-looking because of soot embedded on its facade, Photo Cache. Not to mention that it may have already been a major fire hazard.

But now it really looks much nicer :)

August 29, 2008 8:46 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

These old Spanish type of market or "mercado" like Central Market, are becoming extinct in Manila. I remember of course the big Divisoria market which extend to Calle Tabora and across Recto Avenue, Then Arranque and the famous "ils de tuls" ("ilalim ng tulay") - La Quinta ("country house") Market.

For the longest time I have been searching the answer on how on earth we call "market" "Palengke." If we call our palengke "mercado" I'll understand 'cuz it's market in Spanish. I'm trying to connect our word palengke to "Palenque," one of the world's creadle of civilization, in Yucatan peninsula, Mexico.

There must be a connection because of the big influence of Mexico & the Philippines, the Galleon Trade, the "Guachinangos Indians" of Mexico who settled in Macabebe & Mexico, Pampanga, Mexican creoles; like Goiti, Legaspi, Salcedo, ect... came to the Philippines to hide their ethnicity and many more! Someday I'll find the connection & Eric, you'll be the first one to know!

By the way Great pictures Eric, Central Market is so clean!!!

Thanks Eric for the blog,
ka tony

August 29, 2008 8:49 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"Giant malls like SM and Robinson's have invaded the provinces as well... thus "killing" the businesses of local, smaller malls and department stores that many have opted to close. Ah, greed."

Either that, Rhoda, or Manilenyos just loved the dizzying shoulder-to-shoulder hustle and bustle of the Divisoria shopping complex. Ayayay, we can be masochistic sometimes ... hehehe.

However, even though without centralized air-conditioning system, with its high ceilings, Central Market is not that uncomfortable inside at all.

BTW, got this link from El Cineasta. It's a PDI article on the virtues of shopping these days in downtown Manila:

August 29, 2008 8:51 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi dong,

On the fourth photo, up ahead northward is FEU on the left, while Quiapo church is another 15-20 minute walk.

August 29, 2008 8:55 AM  

Blogger EM said...

Oh! The Central Market!!! It is so clean!! And yes, too many childhood memories. My lola is a dressmaker and she would drag me when I was a child to Central Market to buy her textiles and sewing needs. She knows alot of vendors there and would chat endlessly with them.

It's nice to see the place again. Thanks Senior.

August 29, 2008 10:43 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

never thought about it, Ka Tony, but you certainly have piqued my curiosity now. You might be right ... the word palengke might have really come from oue Mexican connection.

Incidentally, in New York, whenever I finding myself in the midst of somewhat hostile members of the Hispanic community (mostly Puerto Ricans and Central Americans) I'd always mention that my being a Filipino makes me their "cultural cousin." And boy, did they warm up immediately after hearing that ... hehehe.

August 29, 2008 11:41 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

My pleasure, EM!

Yes, they do keep this place pretty clean, but there isn't the usual crowd as back then.

I think the part of the market along Fugoso Street -- with its wet market and produce stalls -- attracts the most business these days.

Be that as it may, I enjoy coming here now and then -- mostly to get my photographs framed, as well as to enjoy a bit of walking down memory lane :)

August 29, 2008 11:45 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember shopping for a quite pricey "walking doll" during our christmas vacation in manila (1979) at this market. my family is from davao and it was our first time in the big city. anyway, central market was my highlight of the trip but we mostly did our shopping at syvels in escolta which was walking distance from royal hotel (the one near ambos mundos restaurant) where we stayed. the whole trip was planned by my dad who stayed in manila shortly after peacetime which explains the unusual choices in shopping and hotel.

your comment about the hispanic community in new york reminds me of the mexican kids i taught last year at a nyc public school. one highly effective trick i used to quiet them down is to say "silencio, por favor" complete with rolling r's which i think made it more credible. i'm not even sure if "silencio" is a spanish word not having taken any spanish classes in the philippines. but it worked. i doubt if it would work with a white teacher though:)


August 30, 2008 4:29 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Gemma,

I think Filpinos would eventually pick up speaking Spanish if exposed long enough as what usually happened to me in Puerto Rico :)

The Los Ambos Mundos Restaurant you mentioned is now located on Florentino Torres near corner C.M. Recto Avenue. Good food! However, I'm not familiar with Royal Hotel. The building where Syvels is remains standing but the store is now closed.

BTW, here's the URL of the post I did on Ambos Mundos:

August 30, 2008 2:33 PM  

Blogger Bren said...

I remember this place ...I used to play in this place before it became a market. We use to call it Osmena Park just accross the street from P. Gomez Elementary School where I was enrolled in Grade I.

March 16, 2010 11:23 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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