One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to visit the local markets because I feel like they offer a true glimpse into what a place is really about. Commonwealth Market, In Quezon city, Philippines was no exception.
I was living with 23 girls at this time and every week some were responsible for going to the market to get groceries for the home. Most of the time, when I finally pulled myself off of my stiff sleeping pad, they had already gone and come back. Determined to experience this outing for myself and I made sure I was ready the next time.
Alarm set for 5am, I tiptoed into the restroom trying not to wake the others, got dressed and headed out. In the dark of the night, we walked the mile it would take to get to the main entrance of the neighborhood and hopped in a Jeepney and were on our way.
Ten minutes later, we were weaving in and out of vendors setting up their shops for the day. We descended a flight of stairs and this was the scene that lay before us.
This was an everyday occasion for the girls I was with but for me this was a photographers dream.
Smells of fresh fish on ice and other things wafted through the air as we made our way through this underground maze. Bright lights dangling above us, Tagalog being shouted from the locals all around us, fish water splashing on our feet and legs.
Completely engrossed in it all, I tried to keep up with my friends as they danced their way through the excitement only stopping to do business with those they had relationships with.
The fish market seamlessly turned into a chicken bazaar. Skinned chickens being hacked to pieces, chicken blood curds being sold at low prices and balut, a Filipino delicacy available in abundance.
I couldn't get enough.
Laughter filled the air as everyone was so friendly, giving me huge smiles or silly dances as I lifted my camera, smiling back getting permission to take their photograph.
"Salamat po" I replied.
Two hours later, weighed down with bags of the freshest produce and meats you could ask for, we ascended from this underground world, the sun now awake, and hopped back in a Jeepney and headed home.
When we arrived, the house was in full bloom with everyone wide awake and ready for the day. 23 girls, 2 children, 3 bedrooms and 3 baths…well that's a story for another day.