Saving Money at the Wet Market in Iloilo City

Occasionally I get off my rotund rump, and go with my asawa to our local wet market in Iloilo.  The walk is close to a 90-minute round trip.  I make the effort to go with my spouse on Sunday mornings and actually carry on a conversation with her. It’s some quality time for us.

The pancake queen

(Photo source: funny411.com)

I  fuel up on pancakes first, however, that I prepare for our crew every Sunday.   Now I never look as good as the teen beauty queen serving pancakes in the photo above, but my nieces and our nephew that live with us don’t seem to mind. The kids look forward to the tasty pancakes. I think it’s the only meal they  have that doesn’t include rice. 

Road kill snake in Iloilo

“Snake!” my asawa exclaimed. Not much left of it, however, as the above photo reveals.  It wasn’t some massive python that hung on the trees of my wife’s jungle home place in Guimaras where she grew up, but it made for an interesting conversational nugget as we walked around it.

Next up are some of the locals at this popular wet market. Sunday is a busy shopping day. I stood in the background as my wife checked with her favorite suki that gives her a five peso discount on each kilo of fish she buys. Prices were higher, in the P120-P200 kilo range, 3-5 US Dollars, because of the full moon, according to my spouse. Local wet market in Iloilo

A full moon makes it easier for the fish to see the nets that the fishermen lay out at night.  The fish are also attracted to the artificial light the fishing vessels carry. The light of a full moon takes away that advantage. 

Prices at the SM City Supermarket (see next photo) are usually higher plus the fish are fresher at the local venue.  A kilo of fish that costs P120 at this local market costs P130-P140 at SM.  However, the “Super” Market by the Parola Dock in Iloilo sells the same fish for only P70 a kilo.

Fish at SM City in Iloilo

Vegetables and fruit can also be purchased much cheaper at the row of markets near Parola.  A kilo of cherry tomatoes costs P15 and potatoes that cost P120 a kilo at SM City are only P50 a kilo at the “Super.”  Our local market sells the taters for P60. It’s the main outlet that many of the vendors get their stock from.

At the “Super” Market, you eliminate the middleman. My asawa visits the Parola venue whenever she returns from a trip to Guimaras since the Super Market is quite a distance from our home.

The day’s catch is displayed in front of our local wet market.  Not that many takers that day, however, due to the higher prices. My asawa also decided not to buy there that day.

Fish for sale at Iloilo wet  market

We moved on to a line of shops about two blocks from the main wet market we shop at in Iloilo City. Lots of fruits and vegetables. And always plenty of bananas as shown in the next photo.  I don’t like the taste or texture of these bananas, unless my asawa prepares them as a “Banana Que”  dish as shown in the photo following this one.  

Give me a Cavendish, “American” banana,  any day. Problem is, most of the Cavendish bananas I see at the big markets at SM and Robinsons are spotted and too ripe. Guess they’re not in great demand and sit too long in the produce department. 

Bananas on sale at wet market in Iloilo


Banana Que in the Philippines


Need a smoke? Here’s some popular generic brands of cigarettes that were on sale. Despite the recent sin tan in the Philippines that went into effect this year, you can tell a pack of cancer sticks are still quite cheaper than what you would pay for in the States. My only concern, frankly, is how the tax impacted the price of a bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen.  I’ve noticed an increase of a few pesos at a local joint my American expat friend, Scott B, and I hang out.  A bottle of Pilsen now costs P30,  74¢. 


Generic cigarette prices in Philippines


More fish for sale at local wet market in Iloilo


My wife decided to buy some fish at this location. Same price as the wet market, but since she needed something for dinner, she parted with some pesos anyway.  That’s her holding the money in the lower-left hand corner of the following picture. My asawa also purchased some jack fruit and green beans. I picked up a couple of kilos of potatoes.

Filipina sales clerk at Iloilo wet market


Jeepney stand in Iloilo City

Made it back home in Savannah where I took the above photo of a jeepney stand located outside our main gate. Notice the lady in the foreground with the black-and-white top? Yeah, in the Philippines people will walk around with tags sticking out of their shirts or blouses just like back in the States. They’ll walk around like that all day without anyone telling them. My own asawa is often guilty of this fashion faux pas but not when I’m around. I always tuck the tab back in for her.

Didn’t spot any more road kill snakes but it was still a good walk on a sunny, breezy day in the Philippines.  And it sure beats freezing temperatures and driving on slick, icy snow-covered interstates back in the States any day!

19 thoughts on “Saving Money at the Wet Market in Iloilo City

  1. Guess we are a bit fortunate on this score Dave, We live about a 3 minute walk to our Wet Market, every 4 days i go and restock out Mangos, get 8 each time and pay 150-180 peso depending on the size. Our maid goes daily to buy lunch and dinner items. Like you said, always fresh and cheaper than SM. We do make a weekly run to SM for canned or packaged goods which we have found to be cheaper there. My only complaint about wet markets are the old ladies with umbrelas,,,they seem to be held at the perfect height to stick me in the eye. Thank goodness i wear glasses lol.

    • Definitely a plus to be that close to the Wet Market, Scott H. My asawa makes the 90-minute round trip trip 3-4 times a week. I don’t go with her every Sunday. I figure my early morning daily hour of brisk walking is enough.
      Canned and packaged items are definitely cheaper at SM. One of those lola’s poked me in the gut the other day on the jeepney. I just smiled.

  2. Super Dave,
    So you mean to say that a bottle of the old trusty San Magoo is now 30 pesos?. Oh my frigging god, thats highway robbery!! I remember when a bottle cost three(3) pesos :), but i won’t say how long ago that was…hahahaha. I love going to the open markets there, just to watch the sites and sounds and of course the awfull smells of what will turn out to be lunch. I envy you Super Dave, you da man.

    John D

    • My American expat friend, TomCat, was paying 13 pesos for Gold Eagle, John D, a couple of years ago when he bought it by the case. The stuff would do in a pinch.

      The open market in nearby Guimaras was a carnival on Sundays. Pigs, goats, cows and caribous would be going down the road on the way to market, in a scene reminiscent of Noah’s ark (yeah, I’m almost that old.) 😯

      The flies sitting on the meat that hung on the rusty nails didn’t appeal to me much, but there was plenty of fresh fish and fruits and vegetables that could be bought for a decent price. I’m living the life, John D, no doubt about that, even if I did shell out 28 pesos for a bottle of Red Horse yesterday.

  3. Thanks for the email on the new post Dave. Just as my internet went down. No phone, no one is fixing anything. Rats!!! What kind of cigarettes are the ones in the photo, WOW… they are cheap. I smoke More. About 21 pesos per pack. The SMB that I like is 38 pesos.

    Meriam and I walked to the wet market last month. I am slow so I took about two hours. Of course Meriam found someone to talk to so we just had to stop… She is the story teller!!!

    • You’re welcome, Gary. Glad you received my email. Sorry about the internet and other problems. Those cigarettes are produced by the Mighty Corporation (MC), a fully integrated Tobacco Company located at Malolos, Bulacan, Philippines. Their website states that the factory lies in a 9-hectare property 50 kilometers North of Manila. The principal activities of Mighty Corporation include tobacco processing and cigarette manufacturing. They’ve been in business since 1945 and specialize in native cigarettes.

      Two hours is a long walk to the wet market, Gary. I’m the story teller in our outfit, but Melinda always has a difficult time whenever we get ready to leave any family gathering in nearby Guimaras. It takes her an extremely long time to say good-bye to all of her relatives. When you’re related to half the people on an island, saying your good-byes can turn out to be an extremely long process.

  4. Like going to market as well, so many entertaining things happen. Watched the last Pacquiao fight at the wet market in Roxas. That was nuts. Don’t know if ya know or not, but a kilo of all purpose flour at SM is over P200, only P42 at the wet market.

    • I’ll have to check out the flour prices, Rease, as I know the flour is very expensive at our local SM. I didn’t go with my asawa to the “super” wet market, but I’ll definitely pay them a visit. That flour price you quoted is a bargain.

  5. Dave,
    Anne can really save a peso at the wet market. Fruit and veggies really taste so much better than in the supermarket here. Will also have to ship some real maple syrup there for my pancakes/waffles since it is generally not available there. Will be shipping i think between 15-20 boxes there. Take care and have a nice day.

    • Good to hear that Anne is a bargain hunter, PapaDuck. That’s an excellent trait. I haven’t found any real maple syrup here like I could find in the States. Generally I just go with the cheapest stuff on the shelf. Sounds like you’re bringing over a good supply. I love fixing pancakes every Sunday. Now if I could just find some reasonably priced bacon to go with it. I don’t care for the taste of the local stuff but bacon made in the States is pricey.

    • Good to hear that Anne is a bargain hunter, PapaDuck, that’s an excellent trait.

      I haven’t found any real maple syrup I like here so I go with the cheapest imitation maple flavor stuff on the shelf. I like bacon with my pancakes, too, but I don’t care for the flavor of the locally produced bacon. The stuff made in the U.S. is too pricey but I could probably use less fat in my diet and go without it.

  6. Dave, its reallly nice to go in wet market rather than in supermarket, wet market has fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken and pork meat , everything you can find there in affordable amount and can also ask discount for everything in the wet market, filipino ways always asking discount from the vendors
    that one of our traits here in the philippines. have a nice day.

    • Yep, Melinda always asks for that discount, Anne, and usually gets one. Nothing wrong with bartering and getting that price down. Have to save every peso you can. And I agree, the fruits and vegetables are much fresher and tastier at the wet market. We’re going to pay more visits to the “Super” wet market here and save even more. We’ll take the kids with us to carry the groceries on the jeepney. Doesn’t make sense to take a taxi, it’s a long way from our house, and wipe out all of our savings at the market.

  7. Dave found a great deal on bacon in the Roxas market. At a cafe right now, but will get the name later. Good US standard bacon for P125 a 1/2 kilo, distributor is in wet market here, so is likey there as well. I get from the chicken lady who keeps it in a freezer out of sight.

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