Friday, September 21, 2012

To Makati Street Market We Will Go

The Legazpi Sunday Market, the weekend community market at the heart of the country’s premier business district, will be, as organizers describe, “amplified” with more vendors and attractive events in four consecutive Sundays from September to October.
This idea, called Makati Street Market, is hatched by Geiser-Maclang Marketing Communications Inc. (GMCI), a Makati-based public relations and marketing company which likes to call itself a transformative social marketing company.
“Being a Makati denizen and as a long-standing communications partner of the most distinguished industry players for years have given us a perspective on how staying relevant to the ever-changing lifestyle of your market matters,” said Amor Maclang, director for communications of GMCI. “It’s one of the ideals that make us challenge ourselves to produce new, transformative, and game-changing ideas that serve as our inspirations to generate exceptional campaigns.”
This is to promote this portion of Makati City, which they call Makati North, as a vibrant community and to highlight it as “a lifestyle spot for young and creative denizens, since this district is landscaped with a range of bars, shopping spots, museums and concept stores.” And as such, it lines itself with the “Make It Happen! Make It Makati!” promotional campaign of Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), Makati Commercial Estate Association, Inc. (MACEA), and the local government of Makati.
Furthermore, GMCI stated: “Evidently, the ongoing success of the Legazpi Sunday Market was no fluke, despite the fact that Makati already houses a wide array of dining and shopping spots. And with the exceptional lifestyle concept that will be adapted and enhanced by the amplified Makati Street Market, the initiative will further strengthen Makati’s dynamism as an ideal address for today’s evolving urbanites, as well as the flourishing business of our fellow countrymen.”
Thus, Alveo Land, a division of Ayala Land, is joining in as one of the market’s sponsors “since the location of the market itself is pivotal to the thriving dynamism in the district, where two of its landmark projects are located — The Lerato and Kroma Towers.”
Located at the Lepazpi Park at the corner of V.A. Rufino Street and Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, San Lorenzo, the Legazpi Sunday Market over the years has become an interesting destination in Makati City and an urban attraction in Metro Manila. On Sundays, when everything slows down from the daily grind and people have time to stop from running around for business in Makati, the market blossoms and is abuzz, ensconced by the park’s greenery and surrounded by buildings and offices which are now quiet. In an area dotted with malls and boutiques, the seven-year-old market seems to thrive.
“There was a clamor for a market to service the community,” said Joey Casimiro, who has been with the Legazpi Sunday Market for six years now and mans the Patika Beads and Wireworks stall.
On the other hand, organizer Rosanne Hugo said: “I don’t exactly know how they came up with the idea of the market, but probably it is based on markets abroad like the ones in Paris.”
Hugo is one of the very first vendors of the market. “I am a constituent of barangay San Lorenzo. So when there were talks of putting up the market, I decided to join. Back then, we were selling consigned products only until I got up enough courage to sell my own stuff,” she related. She then became one of the organizers in 2008.
The market is integral in a Filipino community, even the makeshift and ephemeral ones. In parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, they have what they call taboan, literally, a “gathering place.” Different towns have different taboan days. An ordinary public place—sections of streets, vacant lots, plaza, parks, etc.—transforms during taboan day into a vibrant marketplace and returns to normal at the end of the day.
Corporate Makati’s first weekend market was in adjacent Salcedo Village in 2004, and Legazpi Village followed a year later. But the weekend markets here are different, being in an upscale area. The air is akin to European markets—pleasant, charming, warm and friendly—different from the usual palengke (wet market), which can be chaotic, smelly, shoddy and disorienting. It has become a place to mingle, with an affable vibe different from the impersonal malls. Families come in, and they eat together and shop.
“Our slogan is ‘Eat. Shop. Mingle.’ We meet new people and establish friendships. And I think that’s what sets us apart from other markets. There’s just more time to mingle and chat, not just shop and eat. It’s a common sight to see our vendors tell their own stories to customers. It’s also a common sight to see parents bringing in their kids to enjoy,” related organizer Mike Claparols, who became involved with the market in March 2008 when Ernie Moya, who is now the barangay captain of San Lorenzo, invited him.
The markets here are distinct from the malls and the Filipino tiangge because of the products they offer. They prioritize home-based businesses with unique products, things one is not likely to see in the malls. Most are artisanal products. Casimiro said they are not keen on letting in established businesses such as Starbucks. They also put a premium on quality unlike in the ordinary palengke. They also test the products themselves, especially the food, and suggest ways to improve them. Food tastings are enjoyable and educational affairs for the organizers.
“I enjoy doing the food tasting of potential food vendors, together with my co-organizers. This is a learning experience that is hard to beat, especially when the food being introduced is from another region or country,” Claparols related.
The Legazpi Sunday Market serves “not only the needs of the community surrounding the market but also provides an avenue for small businesses to try out their products,” said Claparols.
Some entrepreneurs use the Legazpi Sunday Market as a testing ground for their products. Some make it big like Manang’s Chicken. It started out with the Legazpi Sunday Market and is now restaurant with several branches.
For Hugo, one of rewarding things working with the market is “simply helping people,” giving small to medium enterprises the needed boost. “We are glad to be instrumental in that. Joey, Mike and I give applicants our suggestions and comments to help them improve on what they already have. When they succeed then it makes me happy,” she said.
The Legazpi Sunday Market prides itself with its arts and crafts offerings, which are more than what the Salcedo market offers.
“While other markets focus on food, the Legazpi Sunday Market has more arts and crafts. We have painters, photographers, jewelry makers,” revealed Casimiro.
The arts and crafts segment comprises a third of the market, and the rest are dedicated to food. Organizers admitted that food is still an attraction.
Usually, vendors come to them when they want to participate in the market. Sometimes, if they see interesting stuff in other places, they invite the vendors to sell at the Legazpi Sunday Market. They also have vendors who also sell at Salcedo market.
“Although it is within the vicinity, we have a different clientele from Salcedo. We complement one another,” Casimiro said. He added that they have more expat customers than the Salcedo market.
Surprisingly, there are only few Makati-based vendors. Vendors come from different places, even as far as Laoag in Ilocos Norte. Vendors here pay only about P700 for the space, which is inexpensive compared to the fees charged by bazaars and expos. With that, vendors get space and the tent. Organizers have a special deal with MACEA, which allow them to use the public area “for a song,” said Hugo. Working hand in hand with the barangay, security is also provided in the area. With these, they are able to keep the prices of the commodities low.
“The purpose of the market is to serve the community. We try to make the commodities here affordable and inexpensive,” said Casimiro.
Aside from quality, organizers also suggest prices and put a ceiling on high an item can go.
“This is, after all, a market,” Casimiro said. “We give them an idea on how much they should be selling because markets are supposed to be cheap.”
When the Legazpi Sunday Market was starting, organizers encountered many challenges.
“I guess the biggest challenge would have to be getting the people to come,” revealed Hugo. “Being a small local government project, there wasn’t much of a fund to use to get the buzz we need. We were not the first in Makati so loyalties were elsewhere. Once we got people to come, they saw that we were worth it as well.”
She further said: “We started with about 40 vendors and slowly we worked on getting quality vendors. We fine-tuned our rules and regulations for applications so as to give our buyers quality. Today we have more than 150 vendors.”
Claparols considered choosing the right vendors, choosing the right products, and spreading or enhancing the awareness of the market as challenges, which they eventually overcame.
“Basically, everyone (all vendors) did their share in promoting the market little by little. And little by little, we grew from 40 vendors to the current 150. The key was putting in committed vendors with promising and unique products,” he said.
The Legazpi Sunday Market flourished over the years. Every now and then, they organize events such as The Grilla in Manila in 2010 and Adobolympics in 2011.
“My favorite market event is our yearly grand buffet for our anniversary,” related Hugo. “It is memorable because it is the vendors’ way of giving back to the buyers that support us all year round. It goes like this: Each food vendor gives a dish for the buffet, something they actually sell at the market. We put all the dishes on one long buffet table then we get everyone to eat. It’s a one-go buffet but it’s a lot of fun as even our food servers are vendors themselves. We bond and eat together.”   
What are the interesting finds at the Legazpi Sunday Market? “I have sooo many favorites!” gushed Hugo. “One would be the Moroccan stall selling yummy cooked food. My favorite would be her fish fillet with saffron rice. Yum! I also love Patika. They sell beautiful one-of-a-kind ‘wirework’ jewelry. Another would be our chicken inasal! Super yummy! Leg’s Inasal is the name. Also there is Warung Warung Indonesian food. I love their version of ukoy.”
With a rich array of offerings, organizers simply invite people to come to see for themselves. And many did, spreading the word. Customers are not only from around Makati; some came from Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Pasig and even from Alabang in Muntinlupa. People who are going home to their provinces buy their pasalubongs here. About a thousand people visit the Legazpi Sunday Market every week, and the number increases during the last quarter of the year, which they consider as their peak season, because of the holiday season.
“We have a nice mix of people from our area and people from all over the place,” Hugo said.
The Legazpi Sunday Market opens at seven in the morning and closes at two in the afternoon. “This is in consideration of the food,” Casimiro said. “We like to serve fresh food. Anything after three or four, there’s tendency of spoilage. There is a clamor to extend the hours but we are concerned about the food quality.”
Organizers dream that the market to be bigger, more variety in offerings and more people coming in. With the upcoming Makati Street Market, they are marking another milestone closer to their dream.
“Makati Street Market’s aim is to amplify what we already have at the Legazpi Sunday Market. We invited more promising artisans and entrepreneurs to showcase their stuff and to make them accessible to everyone in the city. We want people of Makati to have a venue to support the local businesses, and also to give an alternative option to the people aside from the usual mall and supermarket,” said Hugo.
Claparols added that the Makati Street Market is to “amplify further the idea that we are the biggest artisanal weekend market in the country and to establish our position in Makati as being one of the major destinations for urbanites.”
For the Makati Street Market on four consecutive Sundays from September 23 to October 14, there will be 75 new vendors are added. Also, each Sunday has a pocket event. September 23 is Samba and Sangria, with dance and cocktails. On September 30, a biking workshop will be held. They will also be reprising successful past events such as the adobo festival Adobolympics on October 7 and the grilling competition Grilla in Manila on October 14. With these, organizers hope to double the number of visitors.

The Makati Street Market is located at the Legazpi Park in Makati City. The pocket events will run for four Sundays (Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 7 and Oct.14), from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Interested sponsors may contact 0917-5214624 or For the Legazpi Sunday Market, contact the Barangay San Lorenzo Business Association, second floor, Metrobank Building, 908 A. Arnaiz Avenue, San Lorenzo, Makati City, through telephone number 425-0851 and mobile number 0927-3243657.

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