The Lung Center Sunday market: more than just food….


I love weekend markets, never mind if I have to go there groggy from my graveyard shift. These places start very early, and it’s well-advised to go there as early as 6 am, so as not to miss the morning bustle. This was how I found myself in Quezon City’s Lung Center of the Philippines Sunday market yesterday.

What can I say…. a tiangge or bazaar in the middle of hospital grounds? Tell me again. Comparisons to the Salcedo weekend market in Makati come to mind. Salcedo is clearly for the condominium -living, well-heeled crowd; this one was more hoi-polloi. You’d be better off blending here if you’re a ‘cowboy’ and don’t mind being seen in your sando, shorts and slippers. Also, the Lung Center market is definitely more sprawling. It’s more than just about food, and food-related products. Cas, a newspaper colleague I bumped into, told me everything was sold at the Lung Center market, “from the common nail to an aircraft carrier.” That’s just a figure of speech of course. But it’s true that on some days, some fella can just park in there, auctioning a boat or vehicle!


The budget traveller’s guide to Batanes : food, hotels and such…

Like most remote islands in the Philippines, it is hard to fly to Batanes on a budget. The Sweetheart paid $450 $425 for each of us on three-day, two night package tour arranged by a travel agency. Of course you know what happened after that - our three days became nine days which posed a challenge to our budget, considering that no credit cards were accepted and there were only government ATMs on the island.

I figure that what makes travelling to Batanes expensive is the airfare, which stands at something like $250 to $300 for a return trip. The route is not competitive at all (meaning no other airlines fly here) and I don’t know about Asian Spirit’s role in dictating the prices. Maybe it is not lucrative for them at all. It would have been cheaper if you can SAIL to Batanes, even if takes forever. There is a ship departing the island, but it only goes as far as Currimao, Ilocos Norte. We heard merchant vessels are going to ply the northernmost route from Manila soon. Don’t know how reliable this will be, given the island’s weather temperament. Let’s just wait and see.

My opinion is that Batanes shouldn’t be ‘unreachable’ at all to the ordinary traveler, especially Filipinos who dream of going there at least once in their lifetime. Paying $300 for airfare to see a beautiful, albeit, isolated part of the Philippines is an anachronism in this age of budget air travel when flying to Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan, Bangkok and Vietnam can cost you a little less than $200, taxes included. Surely, there is a way to travel by cheap to Batanes? Here are my notes and recommendations: