February 1, 2023

Nonnette C. Bennett
How’s the talipapa business faring in these Covid-19 times? Is it in dire straits too in the absence of tourists and students? We went for a drive to check on some stall owners and how their sales were with the quarantine.
Kate Keryao, 16 years old, was alone in the fruit and vegetable stand of Tessie, her grandmother, when we chanced upon their stall across the Moog building at the Philippine Export Processing Zone in Loakan Road. Her grandmother had to make a trip to Urdaneta City in Pangasinan to buy more fruits. Indeed, the stall had many empty boxes of fruits and the only source of their goods was at the crossroads of Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan. The buko comes once a week from a supplier who buys the coconut in Aurora province. According to her, it is in the afternoon when business is brisk in this four-year-old store. She said at that spot, they had no competition. The closest store was along the road to Woodlane Subdivision and they sold vegetables. Waiting for school to open in October, she will help on weekends when she returns to Pinsao. Kate shared that business is slower because there are less vehicles passing but it still supports the family needs.
At Camp 7, Carmela Saro, 32, took over this store from her mother 12 years ago. Business has been slow, she said because there have been no tourists since the suspension of the Panagbenga and the Holy Week was within the general community quarantine. When the quarantine was implemented, many of her stocks meant for sale to tourists had to be given away before they spoiled or expired. She had cookies, novelty items and preserves at hand. She said it was better to share them with relatives and friends than to throw them away. The loss can be recovered in time, she says.
At the moment, vegetables sourced from farmers around Camp 7 are cheaper than the Baguio market counterparts. In this process, the farmers in their vicinity can dispose of their produce and some profit is made in the retail. It helps that residents in the nearby subdivisions purchase their vegetables in the area instead of going to the city market. But she still needs to order some unavailable vegetables from Baguio market transporters and has these delivered to her store. These vegetables are P5 to P10 more expensive than Baguio prices but it can’t be helped, she says.
Adding local flavor to her goods, she is a source of the smoked pork called kinuday or kini-ing and also etag or dried pork. The meat comes from an Ifugao source who engages in making the preserved meats since Baguio had disallowed wood burning in the city. She also sells ground coffee from the popular market stalls, honey from local apiarists, and even stone candy from Saudi. She has consigned preserves and cookies for now and also looks forward to the time when tourists will be able to travel back to Baguio.
Moises Custodio, 58, owns the fruit stand beside Cooyeesan Mall along Naguilian Road. A wholesaler, he now has teams of salesmen who go around the barangays retailing his vegetables and fruits. He said that he can’t rely on sales at the stall because of the limited market days. His business has expanded because of the quarantine. What was just a stall for coconuts in the past is now the source of fresh vegetables from the nearby backyard gardens, peanuts from lowland sources and a variety of fruits that he also sources from Urdaneta in Pangasinan. Several carts are used to display the bulk goods which are often consigned to him too.
These small businesses thrive even if they are away from the center or the market. Perhaps local residents have found it more convenient to buy from these stores rather than go to the city market and subject themselves to the strict protocols. There is still an exchange of money and goods for people hereabouts. Life goes on, albeit a little simpler and slower.