Pasko sa Carbon: Wishes, hopes, dreams at Cebu City’s largest public market

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital | December 14,2019 - 07:01 PM

PASKO SA CARBON. The 10-foot Christmas tree and the light tunnel at the Carbon Market light up the busy streets of Cebu’s largest public market. | CDND Photo / Raul Constantine Tabanao

CEBU CITY, Philippines — There is no down time at Cebu City’s Carbon Public Market.

Loyal customers and curious explorers visit this 24/7 public market with more than 1,000 vendors selling a variety of products which include grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and a list of fresh produce that you can think of.

Over the years, the Carbon Public Market and its vendors and partner farmers faced different challenges: fire incidents, reduced yield due to the El Niño weather phenomenon and the threat on the pork vendors because of the African Swine Fever.

Yet the vendors remained unperturbed in alll these challenges.

They have come stronger and more resilient in facing these challenges, according to Market Authority Head Jonil Matuguina.

“Bisag unsa ka lisod among maagian, kahibaw mi nga amo ra gyud malampasan tanan,” he says.

(Whatever challenges we go through, we know we can manage to surpass them.)

The tunnel of lights illuminates the busy streets of Cebu City’s Carbon Public Market. | CDND Photo / Raul Constantine Tabanao

This can-do spirit is refueled every December when the Cebu City Government stages “Pasko sa Carbon,” the annual celebration that showcases the public market and invite its customers to stay longer.

This year, the spotlight is on its 10-foot Christmas tree and the so-called “light tunnel.”

The light tunnel is a string of white lights hanging above the busy streets of the public market. What used to be dimly-lit streets on ordinary days now feels like a tunnel with warm lights above them.

Pasko sa Carbon is an annual celebration of great bounty and prosperous harvest for the vendors.

Matuguina says the annual celebration started  in 2005 with the push of Vice Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama.

Matuguina says Rama saw the need to reshape the image of Carbon Public Market from a drug-infested community to a community-inclusive local market.

Unity 

For 2019, Matuguina says they decided to emphasize the unity of the market’s vendors’ associations.

“Tanan nagkahiusa diri sa Carbon kay dili man namo mahimo sa market authority nga kami ra,” he shares.

(Everyone is united here in Carbon. The market authority cannot do it on our own.)

For Juana Abellanosa, 58, this year’s Pasko sa Carbon is a celebration of hope and unity.

She says the lights hanging above the market is a symbol of brighter years ahead of them after all the challenges and difficulties they have faced in their personal lives and in their collective experiences as vendors of Cebu City’s biggest public market.

Abellanosa, a banana vendor, says she is grateful that many vendors’ associations co-existed with peace and cooperation in their agenda this year.

Juana Abellanosa, 58, says this year’s Pasko sa Carbon is a celebration of hope and unity. | CDND Photo / Raul Constantine Tabanao

Abellanosa, a member of the Labo-Landing Area Vendor’s Organization (LLAVO), likens the public market as a mini-war zone in the last 32 years as the vendors’ associations are often in a competitive mood.

But she is happy that the associations are united despite their differences and that conflicts are set aside on Christmas.

“I hope peace will last next year and for the years to come,” she says in the Visayan language.

Second home 

Many vendors have since referred to the public market as their second home.

Marivel Besin, 53, says Carbon Public Market has become the venue for many of her life’s milestones in the last 15 years.

The vegetable vendor, who sells at market’s Unit II, is a mother of five children.

She has managed to raise her children and send them to school with her earnings from selling carrots, lettuce, potatoes and fruits.

The Christmas season is the time of the year when she is able to earn three times her daily profit.

This is why the holidays means a bountiful harvest for her.

Marivel Besin, a 53-year old vegetable vendor, wishes for his family’s good health. | CDND Photo / Raul Constantine Tabanao

Wishes

For Besin, there is no better gift than good health this Christmas.

“Mao ra gyud na akong gipangayo (That is all I wish for),” she tells CDN Digital.

Abellanosa wished for a longer life.

She looks forward to a life that will give her more time to spend with her 14 grandchildren, whom she now refers to as the loves of her life.

To many people, the Carbon Public Market is a happy place. It is the place where visitors come for the best deals. It is a place that makes you wonder how its chaotic environment can bring in order and joy to your day.

To Matuguina, Besin and Abellanosa, the Carbon Public Market is their home of opportunities, growth and dreams.

It is where they see themselves mature in age in the company of family and friends that they care about the most. / celr

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TAGS: Christmas celebrations, Christmas tree, Pasko sa Carbon, tunnel of lights, Vice Mayor Michael Rama
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