Cebu flower market

Cebu flower market for undas/kalag-kalag

A street near Carbon market is closed to traffic for flower vendors to spread their wares.

A street near Carbon market is closed to traffic for flower vendors to spread their wares.

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.

Vendors laying down their flowers. A part of the street was closed for them.

Vendors laying down their flowers. A part of the street was closed for them.

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.

A flower vendor up in the hinterlands of Cebu near the Cebu Transcentral Highway packs a bundle. The area is located at the highest portion of Cebu where the cut flower industry thrives.

A flower vendor up in the hinterlands of Cebu, specifically Cantipla, along the Cebu Transcentral Highway packs a bundle. The area is located at the highest portion of the province where the cut flower industry thrives. It is also considered the vegetable bowl of the island.

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.

Infront of USJR, a university, buyers and sellers alike haggle for the best price.

Infront of USJR, a university, buyers and sellers alike haggle for the best price.

Buying at Carbon Market can get to be a rush sometimes.

Buying at Carbon Market can get to be a rush sometimes.

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.

A male flower vendor prepares a bouquet, usually by the dozen, at the streetside Carbon market.

A male flower vendor prepares a bouquet, usually by the dozen, at the streetside Carbon market.

Check the slideshow at Pinoycentric.com

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.


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Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

13 Comments

  1. Death in Stone: Relieves of old cemeteries in Cebu | langyaw
    October 28, 2008 @ 18:23

    […] and the age old practice of Filipinos to honor their dead, specifically here in Cebu. Part 1 Part 2. This post first came out in […]

  2. dong ho
    October 29, 2008 @ 9:43

    parang dangwa din pala yan. dami kong natutunan sa post na ito. hindi pa kasi ako bumabuyahe sa south ng cebu. hanggang talisay or meron pa yatang isang bayan after talisay ang napuntahan ko pero lagpas doon wala na.

    familiar lang ako sa city.

  3. Sidney
    October 29, 2008 @ 10:43

    All Souls’ Day is something very special here… still don’t understand it truly… it is so different from my home country….

  4. gonli
    October 30, 2008 @ 6:35

    The oldies in my family once said that….. you are only given one in the year to honor departed relatives so do it wisely. Flowers and candle are things we bring to show how much we miss them dearly. For some of us, honoring them shows how grateful we are for the things and acts they have left for us to carry on. Nice work on the pix. Looks like, the famous flower market here in Manila. More of them to come!

  5. At the Calamba cemetery during the day | langyaw
    November 1, 2008 @ 14:48

    […] four-part series about cemeteries and the age old practice of Filipinos to honor their dead. Part 1 Part 2 Part3 Part […]

  6. Luminous night at the Talisay City Cemetery | langyaw
    November 9, 2008 @ 12:54

    […] four-part series about cemeteries and the age old practice of Filipinos to honor their dead. Part 1 Part 2 Part3 Part […]

  7. queeniebee
    July 25, 2009 @ 6:30

    Hi Estan, so many flowers! I’ve been hoping to get up to Busay to see all the fruits and flowers. Haven’t been home at All Souls, but in the province lots of flowers and vendors along the road to the cemetery during that time… Could you tell me if you know the best places to buy orchids in the city at any other times of the year?

  8. estan
    July 26, 2009 @ 3:12

    hi Queeniebee, at any time of the year, Carbon Market in Cebu is the best place to go as this is the “bagsakan” or drop off point for flowers. If you’re here during All Souls Day its better to go up the mountains of Cebu City a few days or a day before so that you can take your pick nearer the source.

  9. mark
    October 7, 2009 @ 19:51

    hi estan ask lng me magkanu fix price ng wonder whites chrysantimum na yellow, gervera at mums jan pwede txt mu ko sa number ko 09073867770 tawagan kita as soon as possible pls

  10. » A riot of blossoms at Hong Kong’s flower market | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    September 23, 2011 @ 16:43

    […] view of some potted decorative grass While it parallels our own Dangwa flower market in Manila and Carbon Market in Cebu during All Soul’s Day its high tech with many shops having refrigeration for those temperate flower […]

  11. » Day of the dead at Libingan ng mga Bayani | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    November 3, 2011 @ 12:33

    […] is this time that cemeteries across the nation comes alive with people lighting candles, , flowers, offering prayers, and, for family reunions with food and drinks and a little bit of […]

  12. Kirby
    June 28, 2012 @ 9:15

    Do you have a contact numbers any of the suppliers of these cutflowers?

  13. estancabigas
    June 28, 2012 @ 14:50

    none.

    estan

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