The Isulan Public Market (Sultan Kudarat Province, Philippines)
By Apolinario Villalobos
Isulan, although, the capital of Sultan Kudarat Province, and where the capitol and some regional offices are located, is still a struggling municipality. But the decision by the local administration to give priority to the development of a clean public market is wise. The market site is conveniently divided into the “wet” and “dry” sections with pre-fabricated stalls….all, neatly arranged…and, most importantly, with clean toilets.
Many months ago, I was intrigued by the statement of a commentator of a radio station based in Koronadal City who said that the public market of Isulan is better than that of their city (Koronadal)….that was before it was razed down by fire. I had the chance to visit the Isulan public market one afternoon when I dropped by on my way back to Tacurong from Bagumbayan. The commentator was right as I found the Isulan public market just wondrously amazing!… although, of course, there is traffic at the two junctions that serve as the gateways to the market site which is a normal phenomenon in any developing town around the country. I must admit that, although, I hail from Tacurong, a close neighbor of Isulan, the last time I visited the latter was more than twenty years ago…and expectedly then, I was amazed by the transformation that I saw.
If local governments of third and fourth class municipalities and cities are craving for tourists, especially, foreigners, they should take note that the first “spot” that these visitors want to see is the local market, the “tiangges”…the stalls that are filled with local produce, fruits, vegetables, fishes, etc., aside from street foods, and not expensive cafes that serve spaghetti, pizza, hamburger, etc. because they can have them in big cities. It is in the public market where tourists could observe and feel the local culture and see the true colors of the community. What these tourists want to capture with their cameras are photos of market vendors and their wares…their friendly smile. Isulan is on the right path of becoming a popular tourist haven or at least, a jump- off point from where visitors can visit nearby touristic destinations.
Lest I be misunderstood, I would like to make it clear that I am not discouraging the mushrooming of modern establishments. But while this kind of establishments have affluent financiers, most of which are from other localities, the lesser business investors who are the indigenous residents need the support of their LGUs…and, this important concern should be taken into consideration.
Local governments should learn from other Southeast Asian nations that have no skyscrapers to boast, but are crammed with foreign visitors the whole year because of their exotic setting.
As an information, the governor of Sultan Kudarat is Honorable Pax Mangudadatu. And, the mayor of Isulan is Honorable Marites Kapunan Pallasigue.