Sunday is traditionally ‘market day’ in Caticlan, Malay, Aklan, Philippines — where we are currently holed up. The fresh market is open every day, but Sunday is when growers from around the region are supposed to bring their goods to market.
Since we wanted to get some more groceries – and cash from the ATM – I decided to go see what it would be like on Sunday morning.
I put on my face mask and took my ‘enhanced community quarantine pass’ and headed out for my second foray into Caticlan town since our mandatory 14-day home quarantine ended five days ago.
Supply run on Philippine market day during a pandemic
Like the first time, I found free neighborhood transportation waiting at our street corner. A tricycle sat there unattended. A few minutes later, the driver, and two neighborhood passengers appeared and drove off towards town after explaining that only two passengers at a time are permitted under social distancing protocols. (Usually six to eight people can squeeze into a trike.)
No problem. I understand. But I ended up waiting an hour before another trike came.
While waiting for a trike…
During the wait, I noticed a number of people passing by on motorcycles and tricycles carrying palm fronds on this Palm Sunday. We’ve been told all Sunday masses are cancelled. But these folks got palms from somewhere, and they were dressed up. My mother will be especially interested in any Catholic mass opportunities in upcoming Holy Week. I’ll have to inquire again.
While waiting, I also walked a couple hundred feet down the road to get a look at the municipal hospital which we can barely see from our apartment roof. It’s not exactly an inspiring facility – literally next to a cow pasture – but we, and this community, are lucky it is so close if needed.
By the time a second free trike finally arrived, I had been joined by the assistant manager of our small resort, Edenia, who was also going to the market. We both hopped into trike number two for the transit to town.
Getting into town
Unlike last time, the checkpoint at the edge of Caticlan, by the airport, did not stop us and check passes. The security tent was still there and manned, but we went right by. They seemed to now be concentrating their attention on the ‘airport side road’ – though to our knowledge the Boracay airport is essentially closed.
At about 9:45 a.m. we came down the main street through Caticlan. Similar to my first trip, there was not much activity, but a handful of businesses appeared open and some traffic and pedestrians were visible – especially around the money remittance places.
Once again, I asked to be taken to the ATM at the port – where we’ve had success withdrawing money twice before. This time, the trike driver dropped me off then drove away as I waved to Edenia. Last time, the trike driver stayed with me throughout my time in the town.
Cash at the closed port, then the market
Thankfully, the ATM again dispensed cash from all three of our accounts. And again, the port was deserted and cordoned off. It doesn’t look like anyone is using the ATMs there. Hopefully, they remain well stocked with money.
After getting cash, I set out on foot towards the city market, about two blocks away. As I walked I again noted a number of stores open for business, but more than half were not.
Still, as I got closer to the market, there was more activity, more people, open shops, more motorcycles and trikes. Indeed, Sunday morning was much busier than Tuesday afternoon when I had been here first.
Over the next hour, I stopped at a half dozen different stores and shops. Purchases included: fruits and veggies, chicken breasts, fish steaks, pasta and sauce, canned goods, plastic containers, some sharp knives, and a small electric fan.
As 11:00 a.m. approached, I noticed some stores closing down. Indeed, the busier market day was still pretty sparse. Any ‘regional’ sellers did not appear to be in attendance. No big surprise. Travel is highly discouraged and the market seems only half open. I was the only obvious ‘tourist’.
Heading back ‘home’
Further, our free neighborhood tricycle service only runs from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., and then 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., so I wrapped up my browsing and got back to the tricycle waiting area.
Just as I did, a trike pulled up with Edenia inside alone. Perfect! I jumped in and we immediately went back to our resort.
Edenia was loaded with goods; food and extra supplies that are now being sold at a small ‘store’ on the resort property. As we’ve previously mentioned, there is a group of workers from the local hospital staying in some of the other rental rooms, thus a need for some basic items for sale. I helped unload her stuff and tipped the trike driver a couple bucks for his service.
Being that I’d been up early (8:00 a.m.) and already gotten a good dose of sun, I went back to bed until late afternoon. I did have a beer on the beach before sunset. Then made up some of the fresh chicken breast, canned corn, close slaw, and bread for supper.
Such is life on Philippine lockdown. Hoping things are as pleasant and easy wherever you are.
Life is NOW!