The Downtown Hustle - SunStar

The Downtown Hustle

Why Cebuanos love to wander around the streets of Carbon and Colon

Text: Tiny Diapana
Downtown Images: Crisanto Etorma (crisantoetorma photography)


BRIMMING with street vendors and wholesalers and thrift buyers and students and farmers spreading out the season’s harvest, Cebu’s downtown area is a sprawling haven for people looking for a good deal on almost anything. Braving the occasional pickpocket and the sly trader who’d peg wares at higher prices for the gullible buyer, price-savvy consumers take time to wander around the crowded streets of Cebu’s downtown markets to look for cheaper alternatives to the pricey things they can find in shopping malls.

Sure, Carbon and Colon may not have the same luxury items or the same Instagram-worthy ambiance that Ayala and SM have to offer, but it’s a lively place filled with a lot of fun and cheap surprises for those who know how to work with the streets and find a good deal. Sunstar Weekend decided to ask a few downtown shoppers what brings them to the streets of Carbon and Colon, and here are their replies:

Jona Branzuela Bering

Travel Writer, Poet and Fictionist

“I go downtown for the stories. Sure, I also shop in Ayala, but for my vegetables, fruits, and flowers, I always go to Carbon, mostly at night, often to eavesdrop and listen to the stories of the poor people that feed the city. You see, there’s a different nuance downtown. It’s the only place where you can see girls having a pedicure done while selling wares and gossiping about other vendors. It’s a great place to find stories.”

Sabina Espina

Graphic Artist and Cosplayer

“Well, I go downtown because it offers you a lot more choices. I don’t just go to Carbon specifically, but downtown is the place where I look for different art supplies, fabric, wood, resin because most of the time that’s the place where you can find a varied selection. Plus, it’s easy to walk from one shop to another, so if I can’t find what I need in a certain shop downtown, I can usually find it somewhere else in the area.”

Denver Torres

Writer, Poet and Manager

“Carbon is the best place to buy your fruits and vegetables. Because I try to be healthy, I visit Carbon during weekends to buy my supply of fresh farmer’s produce. Also, whenever I go to Carbon, I am reminded of the old and now gone Cogon Market of Cagayan de Oro. It was torn down to give way to a new multi-storey market. I once sold silopin there — as in ‘Ma’am Sir, silopin.’ Carbon provokes these memories,and these memories make me smile.”

Lui S. Wolff

Accredited German Language Instructor

“It’s cheaper. Also fruits and vegetables are fresher and are locally produced. Plus no packaging is required… ergo, it’s better for the environment. I usually ukay for unique and better clothing at the weekend ukayan hub near USJ-R. I like looking for skirts, dresses, and tops. It always reminds me to get rid of some clothes that are too old or too small.”

Danielle Balanga

UP Cebu Mass Communications Student and Trinket Maker

“Because it has a wide variety of items. Good bargains, surprises at every shop. You see, I often beeline for the accessories and baubles. In the malls, I do this often and there was this one coronet of golden leaves that caught my eye in a fashion store. Sadly, it was way expensive for a headband, and I left highly disappointed. A few weeks later, I travel to Carbon and find the exact same headbands from the luxury store being sold for 20 apiece instead of 50 — that’s how I began shopping at the source. Also I bought, like, ten.”

Ernest Diño

Filmmaker and Production Designer

“Uhhhh, because it’s cheap. And there’s more hardware stuff available in the shops downtown than those hardware stores in malls. And it’s very cheap. Did I mention cheap? Mostly, things find me. I go to the weekend flea market at Leon Kilat. You never know what you’re gonna get. Some of the most interesting purchases I’ve had include a magnetic police siren, deer horns, an angle poise lamp, and a whole lot more.”

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