The world famous night market along a 500-meter stretch of Harrison Road every 9 pm up to the wee hours of the morning is undisputably one of our city’s major tourist drawer for both foreign and domestic visitors wanting to have one of those expensive branded clothes. From the original 300 vendors who started the night market operation at the Baguio Athletic Bowl sometime in 2006, the number of participating vendors grew to more or less 1,200 vendors to date. The primary purpose of the conduct of the night market was to serve as a relocation for ambulant vendors that were displaced by the intensified anti-peddling campaign of the city government in orderto rid the city’s streets and parks from the proliferation of ambulant vendors which has been pinpointed by the members of the Baguio-Boracay Re-development Task Force as one of the eye sores in the city that might affect the influx of foreign and domestic visitors. Indeed, tourism is the major economic driver in the city that is why the city government is doing its best to implement programs and projects that will be at par with existing key destinations not only in the country but also in the global village.
We all know that the conduct of the night market along Harrison Road has been tolerated by the city government and even the public works department which is in charge of administering national roads. When we visit Hong Kong or Thailand, we can also witness the conduct of unique kinds of night market similar to what is being done in the city as they are also conducted along major roads. Because it has become an international attraction, the city government is doing its best to regulate the operation of the night market in order to continue instilling order in the area and making sure that vendors and the public observe cleanliness after the conduct of the nightly activity which is sustaining good business for the participating vendors.
The enormous number of vendors wanting to participate in the night market which resulted to overcrowding in both sides of the outbound portion of Harrison road and the destruction of the flowers planted in the center island prompted the Baguio City Market Authority (BCMA) to decide to decongest the night market area by relocating those doing business near the center island to the Ganza parking area which is not being used as a parking area at night in order to free the area and allow the city environment and parks management office to implement beautification projects in the center of the road. However, some presidents of vendors associations doing business in the night market questioned the move of the city government as they claimed that it will defeat the purpose of doing good business in the night market if it wil result to additional vendors and not the relocation of the ones doing business near the center island.
Many people are now raising their eyebrows on whether or not those doing business in the nighrt market area are those displaced ambulant vendors who were earlier affected by the massive anti-peddling drive of the city government. As per observations, concerned residents claim that some owners of ‘wag-wagan stores’ along Harrison road, Carantes Street, Abanao St and in other parts of the central business district area seem to be the ones to own most of the slots supposedly allocated for ambulant vendors. In fact, several hours prior to the conduct of the night market, ‘wagwagan store’ owners have been seen packing their stocks and loading it to some vehicles that proceed to the night market area and unload the same for their workers to sell. Many had also been witnesses to trucks and vans loaded with ready to wear clothes which are parked in strategic areas near Harrison road with workers unloading their stocks for the night market operation. The public is now questioning whether or not the real owners of the slots awarded to displaced ambulant vendors are businessmen and not the awardees themselves.
In terms of cleanliness, a number of night market vendors use the center island as part of their display area while vendors of cook food simply throw their used oil in the drainage system.
We are saddened about the revelations of the public on the night market. We believe it is time for concerned offices of the city government to strictly monitor the activities of night market vendors for them to comply with the stringent rules relative to orderliness and cleanliness. Further, the local government must cleanse the list of vendors submitted by the different associations so that it will not appear that the vendors doing business are simply dummies of big businessmen which defeats the purpose of the said nightly activity..
We trust on the sincerity and political will of our local officials to institute corrective measures in the conduct of the night market to avoid suspicion that there are favored businessmen in the locality. We appeal to enterprising individuals to shy away from the night market activity because it was designed as a source of livelihood for ambulant vendors. Let us not be greedy but instead let us share our blessings to others by giving them the opportunity to earn to uplift the living condition of their families.