The Makings of A Successful Weekend Market: The Salcedo Community Market Celebrates Its 15th Year
Well known for its celebrations, Barangay Bel-Air will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Salcedo Market on August 31. A project born out of the pure desire to serve the community of Barangay Bel-Air, its longevity and success as one of, if not the best gourmet markets in the city, can be credited to the barangay’s chairperson, Nene Lichauco. Visible at every weekend, Lichauco emphasizes that the market has managed to retain its family-oriented vibe because it has remained non-profit.
Here to Serve
“At the market, you see the business-owners themselves, the chefs and the home cooks standing there and selling. We encourage [the] full cooperation of all vendors, to keep the market clean and safe. Another big factor in making us truly unique is that all these years we were able to keep our original directives in force, such as prohibiting the sale of dry goods except those related to food and keeping the amount we charge for the tables at a minimal rate,” Lichauco says.
The market’s origins can be traced back to an idea broached to Lichauco in 2004 by Lisa Periquet and Trickie Lopa, who were looking for an event to celebrate the first anniversary of the Velasquez Park expansion. The year before, the park had been launched with a much larger green space, after Periquet had written to the Makati Commercial Estate Corporation or MACEA. “I’d noticed that Velasquez Park was quite underutilized and the green portion, where residents who lived in the area would take their kids to play was tiny. It was more of a parking lot that wasn’t really being used," says Periquet.
“I felt there was a need for a larger play area, so I wrote a letter to MACEA saying that I thought they’d earn a lot of goodwill if they expanded the park. They actually listened to my suggestion and together with the Barangay, made the park bigger.”
According to Lichauco, the more important reason for the market, however, was to make the residents of Salcedo Village aware of the benefits they were entitled to as part of Barangay Bel-Air. “The market was a reason for them to come down from their condos and apartments and meet the other members of the community. We wanted to remind them that Salcedo Village is part of Barangay Bel-Air, ” she shares.
“Another goal of the market was to make it more convenient for patrons to have access to Filipino delicacies, fresh produce, seafood, and meat,” adds Lopa.
Labor of Love
Marc Medina, another co-founder shares how at the time of inception, he and Tricia Lichauco visited other weekend markets to invite vendors to join them. “We spent a whole morning at Sidcor looking for what would be popular given our location at Salcedo Village and spoke to as many vendors as we could. My late mother Susan Calo-Medina helped Tricia and me with food-tasting and choosing products to be sold.” Calo-Medina’s travels all over the country had earned her a discerning eye and palate for regional specialties.” Beginning with only 14 vendors, the market has since grown to 167 vendors, with a waiting list of over a hundred more.
Mia Villanueva and Malyne Lorayes, of the Women of Bel-Air Foundation (WOBA), the women’s organization that eventually took over the management of the market, tell how the barangay’s full support includes the essential participation of security and maintenance personnel. “The bottom line is, even with a great concept none of this can take place without all the behind-the-scenes support needed to implement the rules on cleanliness and professionalism. “ Villanueva says. “Tricia Lichauco and I personally handpick from a list of applicants, taking care not to have multiple vendors selling the same thing.”
Springboard for Success
It is interesting to note how many businesses have thrived as a result of their participation in the market. Since the beginning, Ineng’s barbecue has been a constant crowd-pleaser, while Ope Lopez consistently sells out of her home-cooked creations. Malu and J Gamboa’s Azuthai has also been a Salcedo favorite since 2012. Mon Eugenio began selling at the market and later on opened his own restaurants. Bun Appetit by Iya Cua and Ikomai by James Antolin have also moved on and opened their own dining establishments. Another thing that few people know is that even the highly successful Art in the Park came about as an event planned to help commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the Market back in 2006.
Keeping It Green
Market organizers pride themselves in the fact that only biodegradable bags are used. Secondary packaging is discouraged as well, and this means that vendors are encouraged to inquire first from buyers if they have their own bag. Beginning this August, the market has also been designated by Ayala Land, Inc. as a collection site where visitors may bring their clean, used, and recyclable plastics to be collected and turned over to the Ayala Eco Hub where these are repurposed into construction materials.
What Lichauco is most proud of is the role that the Salcedo Community Market has played in the preservation of food history and culture: making quality fresh produce available to the community, and serving the home kitchen vendors and their patrons. After all is said and done, fostering camaraderie and fellowship among neighbors with the full logistical support of the barangay is what it has always been about.