Have you been to Carbon Market?
Of course, in Cebu City, everybody does or you are not a Cebuano.
Carbon Market or simply “Carbon’ is the oldest and the largest of public markets in the whole of island of Cebu and one of several public markets in Cebu City that included the Ramos Market, Lahug Market, and Pardo Market among others.
Located in Barangay Ermita, Carbon consists of the areas where three main structures, called Unit 1, 2, and 3, were built after the huge fire that gutted Carbon in 1963. According to Wine Miro, who once served as one of the city’s public market administrators, after the fire, the market was temporarily shifted to Warwick Barracks close to Unit 1, and perhaps partly at the Freedom Park too, which at that time also served as the debating area among various religious groups in the city.
Like the temporary fish market across San Nicholas church in Pasil, however, what was temporary became permanent over time. Hence, Carbon Market now practically includes already the old Warwick Barracks and Freedom Park.
The barracks now served partly as a parking lot while Freedom Park is where locally made furniture and handicrafts from Cebu and other parts of the Visayas are presently sold. The area of the Freedom Park, just across the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) campus, now serves as the place where fresh flowers from the mountain barangays of Cebu City are traded.
Carbon Market derived its name from the huge piles of carbon in the area that was used to supply the fuel need of the long defunct Cebu Railway that was put up by an American Company few years after the coming of the Americans. The railway was destroyed during the last war but was not rehabilitated when peace time came.
One of the old books I read told of a steam ship that was used to lay down the cable under the sea to connect the major islands in the Philippine. It mentioned that when the ship landed in Cebu, it took a load of carbon from Carbon to replenish their supply for their next journey.
Last night, I went to Carbon by entering Escaño St. from Magallanes St. across the USJ-R, following the side of Freedom Park and Warwick Barrack, until I reached the entrance of Veco Power Plant. I then turned left to Quezon Boulevard, following the rear side of Unit 1 where meat, fish, and other wet products are sold beginning at dawn.
Then I turned right at F. Calderon St., down to its end at the seawall of Sitio Bato. There I saw another view of the SRP’s South Coastal Road, which was closed to the seawall. Other than that, there was nothing around except the countless stores, houses, or shacks of all kinds of make that line up in front of the narrow street all the way to Carbon. The street was teeming with people of all ages but mostly small kids playing and women chatting by the side of the street. Small alleys can be seen in between shacks or houses, leading to more houses or shacks closed to each other inside the block.
Last February, more than 600 families, involving more than 2500 individuals, were displaced while five persons were injured after a fire struck in the three sitios in Ermita not so far from Carbon. One of the problems that caused the fire to take long to extinguish was the narrow roads within the affected sitios.
I surmised after my visit in the area last night that the problem also includes the failure of the city to build a road along the seawall that bounded and protect Barangay Ermita from the waves of the sea during typhoons. That road along the seawall, if constructed and made wider like a boulevard by the sea, would have been helpful in making it easier for firetrucks to reach the burning area. I saw the same problem in Pasil in my visit there last week.
In Pasil, the map of Cebu City shows Belgium St., which divides Barangays Abuno and Suba. The street extends from across San Nicholas Church all the way down to the seawall that bounded the two barangays from the sea. From this point of the road to the seawall, Belgium St. is supposed to turn left following the seawall all the way to Don Bosco Youth Center at the mouth of the Guadalupe River. That part of Belgium St. beside the Seawall is now occupied by houses of all types of make.
I guess it is the same for all the coastal area or seawall in Sawang Calero after Barangay Suba all the way to Alaska Mambaling and Inayawan. Such is the utter lack of foresight or planning in the city’s road network and lack of appreciation of a seaside road or boulevard, which would have made its coastal barangays look orderly and magnificent if viewed from the South Coastal Road and the SRP.
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