All Soul’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to anticipate it than a three-part series about cemeteries and the age old practice of Filipinos to honor their dead. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4.
Honoring one’s dead is an age old tradition among Asians. In the Philippines, it is the deep reverence and respect for ancestors that define one of Catholicism’s celebrations, All Souls’ Day marked every 2 November. In Filipino, it is called Undas and in Cebuano it is Kalag-kalag. Like Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) sans the pageantry, it’s a very festive occassion. The entire country seems to be in a mass exodus as those in the cities troop to terminals to catch their plane, bus or boat ride to the home province.
Expectedly, flower markets are thriving and making a killing. A bundle can double or triple their actual ordinary price but it really depends on the day. The closer it is to the first two days of November, the higher the price and drastically plunge right after. Candles are in great demand and in the provinces, native food delicacies and pansit (noodles) seem to be the staple paired with liters of cold softdrinks.
In Cebu, while many places becomes virtual flower markets, there are two major points where these blooms can be purchased. The hinterlands of Cebu City stretching from Busay to Cantipla, where the highest point of the province is located is considered the vegetable bowl and cut-flower industry stronghold. If you want cheaper bundles, this is the place to go. Of course, the cheapest ones are those direct from the farms but you will have to drive through narrow roads. A good 4×4 vehicle is advisable. For slightly higher priced items, those directly at the side of the highway are still good buys.
Going up to this area is also a good place to see, a whole different world from the city. The air is cool, farm products are cheap and in some portions, affords the visitor gorgeous views of the metropolis and the surrounding hills. The famous Tops is just a small part of it.
The second major flower market is found in the old part of Cebu City, Carbon Market, just infront of the University of San Jose Recoletos. This was a spacious plaza near a cuartel during the Spanish colonial period but now, it has become a thriving marketplace and is considered to be a bargain center. Native products like basketry and other weaves can be found here as well as bootleg items from DVDs to clothes.
On ordinary days, one can buy flowers here but as 2 November approaches, it becomes a very lively place. Portions of the streets are closed off as buyers descend to inspect, haggle and purchase by the dozen.
When compared to the price from the farms, the cost is double here but still lesser than in other areas. One thing that makes this place worth a visit is that it’s accessible and several jeepneys pass by here, a better alternative to the flower farms.
Flower varietes are many but usually consists of roses, orchids, daisies, mums, chrysanthemums among others. If you’re looking for tulips or other temperate species, it’s not here. You have to get these at specialty flower shops around the city.
Like in most public markets, just secure your valuable things and cash as sticky fingers loiter around.