Tiangge: Cultural Philippine Bazaar
September 11, 2016
Shopping is part of traveling. When visiting places, one would always find things he would want to take back home.
Unless you happen to be an egoistically snobbish shopper who loves buying expensive brands you can brag about for a single time and wouldn’t, in any way, make you a better person, you will most definitely celebrate when you hear the word tiangge.
What is Tiangge?
Tiangge literally means “market” in general, at least according to Andy M who snagged the best answer spot in Yahoo Answers. As for me, I could say it’s the colloquial term used to describe cheap stalls selling variety of goods that lined up a street or covers an empty space and draws in many thrifty—or stingy rather—shoppers.
In the Philippines, you can find lots of tiangge, some even are popular shopping destinations raking in shoppers from different parts of the country. Some of it are Divisoria, Tutuban, Quiapo, Greenhills and many more. If you’re a foreigner visiting the Philippines, I recommend that you visit these places as these tiangges are fixed in one place.
But then the tiangge I would want to talk about is the caravan type. Moving into the more rural part of the country where malls and shopping districts weren’t found yet, tiangge is like a blockbuster movie most of the people are anticipating and are excited about. These tiangges transfer from town to town and arrives in one place at a specific day.
In my hometown for instance, it comes every Thursday. So even with all the shopping convenience of malls and bazaars in my 2 years China expat experience, I still look forward to visit tiangge again.
Here are some of the reasons why I love visiting tiangge:
- It’s either I’m a liar or I’m a psychopathic social climber if I say I don’t like cheap products. Heck, I’m not crazy to spend my hard earned money on items I could buy on a much cheaper price.
- My hometown is 2 hours away from the metropolitan area—excluding the traffic—and the thought of shopping stalls dropping by your town for you is amazing. The proximity saves my sloth cells from the long painful hours of traveling just to buy some specific items.
- Variety of food, damn, this is my main reason and you need not ask why.
- Meeting old friends and some new ones. It’s either they’re fellow shoppers or stall owners. Warm smiles in the morning is so exhilarating for a night owl like me. It’s sort of new to me. It’s different.
So yeah, I just returned to the Philippines last Monday night and tiangge has been on my priority list of things to do when I get back. Classes were suspended and I turned nervous as the storm just wouldn’t let the rain take a break. I was afraid my long scheduled visit to tiangge would be ruined, but well, the heavens is in my favor. It didn’t rain on Thursday morning.
Around 5:00-6:00am, makeshift stalls were starting to line up the road as I was still sound asleep in the comfort of my bed. It was fun to visit it earlier because the sun wasn’t as hot and the breeze was still a bit cold, but I just couldn’t get up and 8:00 in the morning doesn’t sound as bad.
With my mom and dad, we walked our way to the tiangge because that’s just how things are in close-knit communities—you’d rather walk and greet the neighbors. Passing by the Church to get some poke balls and catching some pokemon along the way while talking with my parents shortened our ten-minute walk and soon enough, I found the newly constructed commercial district of Cardona along with the long file of tiangge stalls.
I grinned. Long time no see, my beloved tiangge. So there I was, diving into the stalls with the many other shoppers. It’s near our market. Well, most of the tiangge in Rizal are close to the markets so it’s easily accessible.
Here are the things you can find in tiangge:
- Clothes for all ages; for kids, babies, teens, and adults. You can find shorts, pants, blouses, shirts, skirts and etc.
- Footwear such as slippers and shoes are available at low prices
- Bags and other accessories like belts, caps, handkerchief, hair clips and more
- Home furniture, kitchen wares and dining utensils are also found in there
- There are also used clothes sold at the farthest end of the street
- Miscellaneous stuffs and tools
- Some books and school supplies for the kids
- Food such as nuts, suman (rice cake made in glutinous rice), siomai (which for some weird reason, I didn’t find in China. But hey! There are dumplings!), corn, fruits, cookies and biscuits, different kinds of chips, snacks, marshmallows and other home made delicacies, japanese cake, kikiam, fishball, kwek kwek, chicken skin, scramble, gulaman and many others—I TOLD YOU THIS IS MY MAIN REASON.
- Pillows and blankets and bed sheets
For small communities like mine, tiangge is almost like a town event. You can go there to sell your own products or shop and mingle with people around town because Cardonians practically knows each other (what with being a very small undeveloped town so unknown in the rest of the country). I even found old family friends who greeted me and asked about my China experience.
Bought too much? No need to worry because as soon as you come out of the street, various transportation vehicles are readily available and willing to bring you home. My reunion with tiangge was fun and I will definitely come back next week.
Where else to find Tiangge?
Also, another way to catch a tiangge is during town fiestas. Tiangges are found in any empty spot near the churches drawing in many patrons from the numerous religious activities performed during fiesta. Like the fairs and carnivals, tiangges stay for half to a month and a half adding up to the festive spirit of the town.