One of the most recognizable places here, in the Queen City of the South, is the Tabo-an Market. It can be found near the Pasil Wet Market and San Nicolas Parish.
The word “Tabo-an” literally means “meeting or trading place”. I assume it was named thus because it was where people from rural farms go to sell their produce… much like the neighboring Carbon market. And not only people with produce sell their stuff in this once bustling place but also just about anyone who has anything to sell. That’s why you can find almost anything in Tabo-an…. from fruits and vegetables to pork and fish to cheap clothes and household stuff such as rags, slippers, and fly swatters. Amazing, right? And it’s also the popular place to get your fave dried fish, may it be the cheap bodboron or the expensive–and quite popular–danggit. This is especially true if you plan to buy in bulk, because the prices of things there are way cheaper than the ones you might find in groceries or malls. And you could haggle your heart out with sellers, too.
Now, I’m not exactly sure when Tabo-an was founded but according to my lola, it was one of the most exciting parts of the city during her time–especially on Mondays, which was the “tabo” day. The place would be so bustling and filled with traders in those days that streets would be closed off. It was when people met friends and hung out.
People there are still as friendly today as they were decades ago, or so it seems whenever I observe my Papa visiting the place. They certainly have ready smiles when they spy a camera.
Today, Tabo-an Market is one of those places here in the city that has succumbed to what experts call “urban decay”. Most of its stores are old and crumbling. Even the main market in the center has parts that cannot be occupied due to them being unstable. And the streets are certainly not as bustling as they used to be.
However, my papa’s friends say it is now undergoing renovations. (Yay!) And the residents/stall owners are hopeful that they would be able to move into better and newly improved stalls soon. They’re certainly crossing their fingers. Who knows? Maybe the place could get back the colorful verve it used to have decades ago and Cebu could gain back another nice tourist spot on its already long list.
So, if you’re on a tight budget, you should check Tabo-an or Carbon market. You’ll be sure to find some great bargains there still. Just be careful and don’t dress up like you have a million dollars in your pocket and you’ll be fine. And refrain from acting like an elitist snob. People can actually be really friendly if you just let them.