Street vendors are an integral part of urban economies around the world, offering easy access to a wide range of goods and services in public spaces. They sell everything from fresh vegetables to prepared foods, from building materials to garments and crafts, from consumer electronics to auto repairs to haircuts.
Street vending has been a part of daily adventures in the city. We are also sometimes amazed but often ignore them. But what are the stories about this street vending business and where to find them along the Iloilo area.
The new Iloilo City Hall is an imposing landmark in the Plaza Libertad area. It is among the tallest structures in the downtown area and offers a breathtaking view of Iloilo – it’s clean river and the island of Guimaras. one must check in at the Iloilo Gallery which is like an introduction to Iloilo then get some assistance in going up the roof top.
A little further gives another glimpse of the historic past of Iloilo as mansions from rich families still survives and now made into restaurants, schools, or still being lived in. Then finally there’s the historic Fort San Pedro, a stronghold that protected the city from its invaders over the centuries. Sadly, only a minute trace of if remains to be seen and years of neglect have caused its deterioration. But a view of the island of Guimaras and a beautiful sunset are the saving grace for this part of town.
Surely a historic tour of this kind is tiring and makes one hungry. But don’t fret, since this part of the city also holds a lot of gastronomy – and some historical too. A few blocks bring one to Roberto’s. Among the city’s iconic restaurant, Roberto’s is famous for its pancit, fried meat, hamburger and of course the royalties Ilonggos revere – the King and Queen sio pao.
The area is also known as the Chinese district and Chinese restaurants abound take your pick from KongKee, Dainty, Summer House, Mama Gan and a whole lot more. The Central Market a few meters off JM Basa Street offer great buys too from flowers to handicrafts to dried seafoods for pasalubong. Take your pick from, dried squid, fish tocino, boneless dilis, danggit and more. A popular hole in the wall (literally) bakery has been serving Ilonggos hot bread and tasty bread for years. Buho (hole) Bakery is popularly known as such because of the hole where one can get their orders before opening and beyond closing times.
A walk along Valeria Street and its vicinity is like a food trip for the street hosts a lot of food places serving local and modern cuisine. The La Salette building has reinvented itself to be a modern gastronomic destination housing mostly local food chains. Luna’s serves the most popular Arroz caldo in town, Ted’s and Deco’s have batchoy. Native restaurants like Dapli by Breakthrough and Buto’t Balat serves Ilonggo faves like fresh lumpia, chicken binakol and a whole lot more. Also check out cafes like Bluejay and Dulgies for your sweet cravings. Check out Balbi’s for pancit palabok, dinuguan, ensaimada & cheese rolls and Iloilo Birdhouse for a variety of sweets and snack items sans the expensive price.
Gen. Luna Street is also a gastronomical avenue dotted with restaurants, bars, cafes and more. Thanks to the numerous schools, hospitals, hotels and establishments along this street marked with two flyovers that momentarily give a good view of the Iloilo River at its peak.
A Robinson’s mall occupies almost a whole block, not to mention almost a whole baranggay too. It’s mostly out of the way but has created quite a niche in itself. Though young compared with the rest it has placed it self in the map simple because of Mang Inasal. The fastest growing (native) fast food chain in the Philippines today had its humble beginnings in the car park of this mall. So when you crave for Mang Inasal when in Iloilo, make it more significant by dining at Mang Inasal branch number 1. And picture yourself beside that monster rooster that symbolizes it might as it takes the country by storm – opening 100 branches a year.
But what could be the contributions these street vendors give to the communities and most especially, to us?
The Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS) revealed ways in which street vendors in five cities strengthen their communities:
- Most street vendors provide the main source of income for their households, bringing food to their families and paying school fees for their children.
- These informal workers have strong linkages to the formal economy. Over half the IEMS sample said they source the goods they sell from formal enterprises. Many customers work in formal jobs.
- Many vendors try to keep the streets clean and safe for their customers and provide them with friendly personal service.
- Street vendors create jobs, not only for themselves but for porters, security guards, transport operators, storage providers, and others.
- Many generate revenue for cities through payments for licenses and permits, fees and fines, and certain kinds of taxes. This was true of two thirds of street vendors in the IEMS sample.
Street trade also adds vibrancy to urban life and in many places is considered a cornerstone of historical and cultural heritage. Yet street vendors face many challenges, are often overlooked as economic agents and unlike other businesses, are hindered rather than helped by municipal policies and practices.
So there you go, wherever you are in Iloilo City, you can have your services fulfilled and delivered right in front of you. Just let the street signs tell you the direction and let your mouth do the talking and eating.