ILOILO City – Yesterday marked the beginning of the redevelopment of Iloilo Central and Terminal markets, the two biggest and among the oldest public markets in this southern city.
The groundbreaking ceremony was led by the Iloilo City Government, headed by Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, and SM Prime Holdings (SMPH), represented by SM Supermalls Senior Vice President for Operations Engr. Bien Mateo and SM Vice President for Visayas Operations Michelle Leslie Llanos.
For Treñas, the start of this game-changing project is another milestone for Iloilo City and its people as the dream to transform the two public markets into modern, clean, and conducive spaces for vendors and market-goers has now begun to become a reality.
“Halin pa sadto ginalantaw ko na nga dapat kay-uhon ta na ang aton markets,” said Treñas as he recalled the feasibility study conducted in 2006 and how previous administrations attempted to realize the project but failed.
“Upod sa mga opisyales sang Syudad, natigayon ang handom ta,” he added
The two city public markets, popularly known as “Tienda Mayor” and “Super,” are the first markets in Iloilo to be redeveloped through a public-private partnership with SMPH.
In line with the city’s focus on renewable energy, the infrastructures are set to become the first green markets in the Visayas, utilizing solar panels, natural light, and natural ventilation. The redevelopment will introduce designs that maximize energy and water usage efficiency, as well as implement efficient waste management.
Mateo, on the other hand, stated that SMPH looks forward to providing additional spaces to accommodate more vendors, which could create more job opportunities.
“Kung maari, dagdagan pa natin ang mga pwesto para sa ating mga nagtitinda upang makapagbigay ng mas maraming oportunidad sa mga Ilonggo na makapagtrabaho doon sa ating market,” he said.
SMPH’s investment for the redevelopment of the two markets amounts to approximately P3 billion, which could result in an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 additional employment opportunities.
“We will not be your partner for long; we will be your partner for good,” Mateo stressed.
The redevelopment of the two popular markets aims to provide the city with a sustainable multi-use market complex that will foster and enhance business activities while preserving the economic value of the Old Central Business District (Calle Real) of Iloilo City.
The Iloilo Central Market will capture Iloilo’s heritage and progress as a vibrant marketplace, offering a diverse range of local products and experiences for both residents and tourists. It will also support MSME growth by providing excellent amenities, creating a thriving hub for vendors and the community.
On the other hand, Super is where most of the produce from other parts of Panay Island is traded, both wholesale and retail.
Josefino Barroca, a Central market vendor for four decades, said the redevelopment of the market will benefit both market customers and vendors, providing them with a wider, safer space and improved livelihood opportunities.
“We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to all the people who made this possible, because as we stand in the modernized era, we also want our public markets to be rehabilitated and modernized, not only to avoid being seen as ‘mahigko kag mabaho nga lugar’ but so that we can be organized and empowered market vendors with a nicer space for our consumers,” said Barroca.
Terminal Market Vendors Association president Dante Mangalisan shared the same sentiments as Barroca.
“Ang proyektong ito ng Iloilo City and SM Prime Holdings ay napakalaking tulong hindi lamang sa aming mga vendors kundi pati na rin sa mga kapwa naming Ilonggos,” he said.
The city is also currently rehabilitating the district public markets in La Paz, Jaro (Big), Mandurriao, and Arevalo.
These projects are anchored in the city mayor’s W.H.E.E.L.S. (Welfare, Health, Education, Environmental Management, Livelihood, Sustainability) roadmap for inclusive development.
Iloilo City’s redeveloped markets will also soon be well-positioned to become more meaningful public spaces that provide better access to fresh and healthy food and quality commodities, foster livelihood and economic opportunities, promote tourism, and proudly reflect the vibrant Ilonggo way of life.
Earlier, Treñas expressed excitement for the thriving future of city public markets as soon as all renovation projects are completed.
“After looking at the public market in Barcelona, I am excited to see the renovated public markets of Iloilo City and what they can become,” Treñas said, following a side visit to La Boqueria, the world-famous market in Barcelona, Spain, coming from Vienna, Austria for his official trip sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
Barcelona is known for its mesmerizing and unique public markets as it is one of its most impressive tourist attractions.
He recalled that for the longest time before he came back as city mayor, the city public markets were a losing proposition.
They were losing money as an economic enterprise and had to borrow from the General Funds to pay for electricity, water, and other operational expenses.
When the Treñas administration took over, and Maricel Mabaquiao was appointed head of the Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO), the collections for the markets exceeded the targets every month, every quarter, and every year.
Collections were still up despite the pandemic, the current ongoing constructions, and the relocation of vendors to temporary stalls.
“If the right persons with the right heart for the job are in place, things are right,” Treñas stated.
He is more excited to see the renovated markets after a year or so – with a clean environment; clean restrooms; proper zoning; parking slots on the roof deck; elevators for the customers; and among other improvements.
“We can eat batchoy and pancit molo in a clean environment; where we can drink our Madge coffee in a nicer place. We will even be prouder to be Ilonggos when the time comes. My heart beats for Iloilo,” he said./PN