"Is this spot okay," the cab driver asked me as he pulled into an empty parking space.
I nodded, paid my fare and stepped out. It was late afternoon , almost 5:00 p.m., and yet the day's heat had not let up. I was glad I had tied my hair up into a ponytail and had chosen to wear a cool t-shirt. Already I could feel the sweat starting to form on my forehead and I swiped at it with a handkerchief (yes, I still carry one).
Kamuning Market, located in one of Quezon City's old neighborhoods, is well known for its section selling clothing material. Along with Divisoria and Baclaran, this is where designers, seamstresses, tailors and housewives go to find quality, inexpensive material. A whole section of the market is dedicated to selling cloth and the variety is astounding. I figured this would be the best place for me to go for the material I needed for my son's school uniform.
Across the street, I could see the squat, wood and cement building that was the main market. All I could see from where I stood were a few stalls selling terra cotta pots, rice and fruit. There were no stalls selling cloth in sight. I had never visited that part of the market before and was, in fact, unsure if I could find it. I sighed. I would have to follow my nose again, I suppose.
After taking directions from an old woman who seemed to have forgotten to put her teeth in (LOL), I found myself in a small courtyard surrounded by stalls filled with bolts of colorful cloth.
I walked from one stall to another, asking if they had the material I wanted. After a few stores, I found a nice cotton material at an even nicer price. I haggled a bit and the lady who owned the store gave me a nice discount for 10 yards. She even threw in a yard of muslin that I had asked about.
That purchase done, I was ready to explore.
I had never been to any other section of Kamuning Market except the one that housed the snacks and sweets stalls, and that was when I was a young girl when I came with my grandmother. In fact, this was the first time that I had come back to this market as an adult.
The cloth bazaar was a visual delight, with the bolts of cloth standing up for display in almost every available inch of space. Cotton, silk, taffeta, wool, organza, cotton, and a hundred other kinds of material competed with each other for my attention, their colors and patterns enough to make one dizzy.
There were yards and yards of lace and appliqued cloth for sale, gauzy material for curtains hung on the storefronts, the light breeze tossing them ever so lightly, their ruffled edges doing a little dance on the courtyard floor.
Bolts of dark colored suiting material stood upright in their display cases looking like little soldiers at attention, a serious looking bunch of threads if you ask me. Playful pastel colored cotton with animal prints screamed to be made into a child's blanket or pillowcase.
A saleslady at one of the stalls gave out an embarrassed laugh when she saw me taking photos, saying her shop was in complete disarray.
Going down a hallway I came upon a stall that sold all kinds of items made from coconut shell, coco wood and abaca twine. I went crazy when I saw the huge assortment of wooden and coco shell beads, some unvarnished and plain, some painted in the brightest colors.
Aling Elening, the lady who owned the stall, told me that people came to her shop to buy materials for costumes with a native or tropical theme. She even showed me some plain, uncolored abaca fibers which she said are made into witches wigs for Halloween!
Of course I could not resist those beads. Aling Elening helped me pick the best ones, shooing me away from those she called "Class B". After wrapping up my purchases, she dug into a large plastic bin that stood in front of the stall and fished out a large anahaw hand fan. She handed it to me, smiling broadly as she said: "This is for you. Use it -- you look like you're about to melt."
I walked out of Kamuning Market as the sun was setting. Stalls around me were starting to close for the day. A woman selling fruit loudly announced that all her stuff was at 50% off. A man who sold charcoal, his wares tied securely to the side of a wooden cart, washed his inky hands in a dipper of water, cleaning up before leaving for home.
I walked back up the small street that led to the main road, one hand clutching the bag that held my purchases, the other one fanning myself furiously with the large anahaw fan. After so long, it was nice to visit Kamuning again.