Roadside Shopping in San Isidro, Siargao


Not a day goes by we don’t buy something from people passing by on foot, by motorcycle, tricycle, or even jeepney. Usually it’s fresh fish (or clams, squid, octopus, and crabs). Fruit and vegetable sellers are a close second behind the seafood vendors. Mangoes, pineapples, lanzones, rambutan and watermelon when in season are popular. The most common vegetables being tomatoes, tiny purple onions, okra, ampalaya, potatoes, green string beans, and pumpkins.

vendors Siargao
A housewife examining some pumpkins for sale.

Today we had some ginger farmers stop by all the way from Tagum (near Davao). We got almost five kilograms of very fresh and large ginger. Why so much ginger? Last Sunday at the cockpit someone was selling re-purposed rum bottles full of wild native Siargao honey; we bought half a gallon. Looks like we’ll soon be making some salabat ginger tea sweetened with honey. Another project on the way!

vendors Siargao
Fresh ginger straight from a farm in Tagum; only forty pesos a kilogram.

While Tagum may be far from Siargao, it’s still in Mindanao. Some vendors come from much farther away. A few weeks back a jeepney making the rounds selling foam for mattresses parked out front of our house for their lunch break. I struck up a conversation with them and was surprised to learn they came all the way from Caloocan, a large city in Luzon. From the looks of the jeepney this family has been in the same business for a while.

vendors Siargao
A foam dealer from Caloocan.

While they rested and cooked their lunch by the roadside one of the youngest members of their crew went door-to-door selling finished mattresses and storage boxes.

vendors Siargao

In case you’re wondering, their prices are very high compared to retail outlets; they take a small deposit for their merchandise and will come by periodically to collect the rest at a huge financed premium. The price they quoted for a mattress was about 400% more than you’d expect to pay in a store!

If you don’t feel like going to a retail store you can always send a tricycle to do your shopping for you. Here you can see a motorized tricycle we sent to the port of Dapa to pick up some necessities for us: various sacks of chicken and hog feed, a case each of Tanduay rum and Pepsi-Cola, and some nipa panels to be used for roofing a duck cage:

vendors Siargao

The San Isidro fiesta (May 14th-15th) is rapidly approaching and we’ll expect quite a few itinerant peddlers this week selling more festive merchandise. Two balloon vendors stopped by around lunchtime today after selling their wares at a parade:

vendors Siargao

Then later this afternoon I noticed some hammering noises coming from just down the road. Someone has decided to put up a temporary gas station to take advantage of the increased road traffic surrounding fiesta week.

vendors Siargao
Temporary gas station soon to rise here.

In the interests of safety, gas can no longer be sold in towns and this temporary filling station will be right at the ‘Gasoline Post Site’. We’ll update this picture in the next day or two as the gas station gets nailed together and operational.

Vendors Siargao


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