Tuesday, August 01, 2006


As wise men say, change is good, especially when buying from street vendors. Check out this fruit stand left unattended by a vendor who was desperately looking to get some change from other merchants in the vicinity (top photo).

Anyway, I took some pictures of street vendors as my initial attempt in street photography. Sidney was right! All one has to do is ask for people's permission first before shooting away like mad. I was happy that those I asked gladly consented; without so much as obliging me to buy anything beforehand.

Please click on the following images to enlarge for a better view:

Viral marketing: An entire family of street vendors. There’s grandma, mama, sonny, and grandpa. Papa was still home sleeping; dead tired from last night’s drinking binge.

The sampaguita garland vendor: She once aspired to conquer Tokyo by entertaining a flock of Japanese power brokers, but her extremely possessive husband refused to let her go. Even now when she’s working, he’d sneakily check up on her. But that’s not him at the background, though; he’s the one on the photo below near the rice cake ladies.

The rice cake, suman and kakanin vendors: According to these three women, they stopped bickering and joined forces upon realizing that underselling each other only hurt their profit margin. Nowadays, with collective price-fixing, they’re as happy as can be. Come to think of it, don’t they look like they’re about to break into a song?

The Indian Mango vendor: Even in street peddling, “it helps when you got the good looks,” so claims this Senor Romantico. Check out the woman in blue in such scandalous position; unable to wait a second longer to cop a feel of his mango.

The Davao grapefruit and Indian mango vendor: I asked her why she looked so gloomy. “Is it because of the impending rain?” I asked while trying to catch her eyes. “No,” she said as she half-peeled a grapefruit.

“Is it the hardship involved in your line of work such as fending off some street thugs hustling for protection money, or dodging the traffic cops out to weasel a couple of bucks off you for their merienda?” This time she motioned with her head to indicate another no yet, her chest heaved a deep sigh of longing.

“Is it because of our universe that's constantly expanding?” I persisted. “No! I’m just out of load…I cannot text my boyfriend in Dumaguete,” she exclaimed.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 6:38 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice shots. Makes me rave more for my very own digi-cam. Anyways, I've always been fond of street vendors, they can be some of the most wonderful persons to have a conversation with. Plus they could even become some of the wittiest commentators on today's news since their answers are most often times straight to the point, practical and honest.

Whenever I'm creating characters for a story or a script I'm writing, I've always go to our public market and talk to the vendors there, the variety of personalities and mindsets are always a fertile ground to find the right character for my stories and plays.

August 01, 2006 7:24 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You right, Jhay! I guess it must be on account of their being in the thick of things that make them keen observers of life's daily grind.

I can understand why ordinary folks have become an abundant source of inspiration for your characters -- they can bring life to any story.

Thanks, Jhay!

August 01, 2006 7:50 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Street vendors..Amazing how many people depend so much on the underground economy. I'm sure this people get permits or something to be able to sell but they can make all the money they want without getting taxed ( I think)..

August 01, 2006 10:24 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

I love street photography !

Point and shoot cam or SLR ? Safer to use the former lalu na sa manila :)

August 01, 2006 10:40 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bida pala ang isang tulad ko dito :)I used to sell fresh seafoods sa kahabaan ng Ongpin St sa Sta Cruz, yan ay noong bago ako pumunta dito sa Singapore .... next time kunan mo sila ha nandoon pa ang nanay ko :) .... si Ajay napunta na doon at pinost yung panindang seafoods :)..tell me kung kailan ka pupunta pabigyan kita kay nanay ng uhmmnn mahilig ka ba sa hipon? (hehehehe sensya na kung tunog inoobliga kita na bumisita :))

nice shots eric, alam ko hindi ito ang unang pagtatangka mo sa photoblogging ... pero ang mas natutuwa ako ay ang pagkakaroon mo ng panahon na makausap ang mga taong naging subject ng photography mo .... ang galing ... photoblogging with immersion....I don't know why I am overwhelm lol!! I really like what u've done...mabuhay ka!

August 01, 2006 11:48 AM  

Blogger Rey said...

Hahaha... the last one cracked me up. At least load lang pala ang pinoproblema.

I had an auntie that used to have a space in the market selling fruits. I had many memories going there and eating things i like, mostly mangoes, kaymito and avocados.

August 01, 2006 12:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like looking at pictures of everyday life and street vendors are an interesting lot. I also like the last line because it aptly captured what I have observed of many teeners today. It seems that for them, the letters C.O.S. (check operator services), which means "you're out of load", spell death. LOL

August 01, 2006 5:09 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm really in awe, BW, of the sheer perseverance and patience required to succeed in this line of work -- most get up at 3 a.m. to head on over to the pier near Divisoria where truckers of various produce congregate to sell to store owners and street vendors.

And most of the persistent vendors/peddlers have done well enough to finance their children's schooling. Not just with fruits and vegetables, but in dry goods as well, which can be purchased in bulk in Divisoria.

My cousin's wife engaged in ladies undergarments (bras, panties, girdles, and etc.) which she bought in Divisoria and sold in her hometown in Bulacan. Of course, the most successful I've heard of who started in this business is Josie Natori -- she now owns a multi-million-dollar fashion empire based in NYC, but she started buying and selling panties and bras with Divisoria as her prime initial source.

As for licenses and taxes, I don't think that most average street vendors can afford them. But the fact that they're able to feed their families and send their children to school from money earned in street peddling is admirable enough for me.

August 01, 2006 8:36 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm going to have to keep you in suspense for awhile, Senorito Ako. I will blog about the camera I'm using in a day or two :)

Melai, bakit hindi mo nalamang email sa akin kung saan ang pwesto ng nanay mo at baka madaan ako sa Ongpin bago mag-weekend. Paki sabi na din sa kanya na hahanapin ko siya at kung pwede, mag-picture taking din ako.

Pero di na kailangan regaluhan pa ako ng hipon kasi baka bumalik na naman ang bungang araw ko (hives)pag kumain ako niyan :( Pero marami ding salamat.

Marami tayong mahuhusay na mga photo bloggers kaya ang naisip ko ay nakakaiba namang diskarte. Natuklasan ko din na ang kamera ay nagbibigay daan na makausap ko ang mga iba-ibang tao kaya pinagsama ko ang kombinasyon na ito at itong blog na ito ang resulta!

Maraming salamat, Melai. O sige, email mo nanay mo, ha?

I would have loved to have a relative with a fruit stall in tha market, Rey. No doubt, I would have pigged out on various local fruits as you had.

Yes, Bugsybee, eload is so important not only for teeners but for old geezers like me, too. :) I don't subscribe (postpaid) because I hardly use my cellphone so, I buy those prepaid cards, but sometimes I forget to check my balance. Also, at first I didn't like the idea of texting -- too much work, but eventually got the hang of it.

August 01, 2006 8:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! You've become a street photographer. Nice shots. The food looks so colourful and good on the photos. And very interesting captions. So did you get up early to take these?

These pictures bring me back home. I've never smelled the sampaguita for a long time. Now I can't seem to remember what it smells like.

August 01, 2006 8:59 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I didn't get up too early, Niceheart. It was just a gloomy Sunday that not much people were out and about. I took these between 11 am and 3 pm.

You wouldn't believe this, one of the things I did when I moved to Manila was plant some sampaguita and rosal out in the yard, because I have fond memories of them as a kid while summering in the province. And the scent? Simply marvelous, Niceheart! And if you concentrate enough, the memory of the scent will come back to you. I'm sure of it :)

August 01, 2006 9:16 PM  

Blogger silentmode_v2 said...

waaah, can't see a thing. i wanna see your street shots pa naman. #*)@(*#_@)*# isp blocked flickr (i guess) here.

August 01, 2006 9:21 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh no, jepaperts! Kasi dial-up lang Internet connection ko so, I have to upload via flicker otherwise it would take me forever; worse, sometimes they wouldn't upload at all if from my hard drive.

But then again, ang mga shots ko ay hindi kasing tindi tulad ng mga photos mo at ni Tet, ha? So don't expect too much. As of now auto mode lang ako :)

Any suggestions as far as alternatives are concerned so you guys can see my pics, too?

August 01, 2006 9:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the colorful post. Your conversations with the street vendors are interesting. And... rice cakes, kakanin, suman - Yum! The closest thing I have here in Boston is the Vietnamese turo-turo in Chinatown. Not exactly the same as our suman and kutsinta, but still good.

August 02, 2006 2:27 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It's rather interesting, Aurea, that within NYC's chinatown district is an enclave of Vietnamese eateries whose tasty fare is giving the Chinese a run for their money. I mentioned this because I am yet to find a similar Vietnamese presence in our local Chinatown. But who knows? I might be wrong and one may already be in existence.

As I've told Melai, the camera seems to be a wonderful ice breaker, as well as a sense of humor which tends to disarm most of them :)

August 02, 2006 6:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very sharp photo blogging; the only way to go, Eric. Each scene is so vibrant and with your annotations, they become alive in front of the reader...

I liked the most that kakanin and suman ladies since they've got to realize a very basic rule in the high and mighty corporate world, which is to regularize prices and establish a semi-monopoly for the protection of their business interest, parang mergers and principle...and all this happening in the streets...

August 02, 2006 2:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Well said, Major Tom! Actually, it all came about when I remarked in jest that all three of them were basically selling the same merchandise. And I was surprised by their candor.

A popular buzzword -- or in this case, phrase -- during the '90s, "strategic alignment" aptly describes their unity as well.

And many thanks for the compliments, Major Tom. I am hoping that I'll be able to sustain this type of photo blog presentation.

August 02, 2006 8:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

so what was your reaction after hearing the suha/indian mango vendor's answer????????

Am trying to imagine you with your serious questions and her equally serious answer :-)))

August 03, 2006 6:22 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I asked that question mainly to elicit a smile from her, but was completely taken aback when she responded so candidly (but tinged with sadness just the same) that I immediately whipped out my cellphone at pinasa-load ko siya ng 15 pesos. At first she refused, but eventually relented. Just the same, I warned her to be careful when texting out in the street.

August 03, 2006 6:43 PM  

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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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