After Taal: Tagaytay City market vendors devote faith and compassion amid struggles
The Mahogany Market of Tagaytay City has a colorful view as it blends the neon yellow of bananas and mangoes, the striking red of dragon fruits and rambutan, and the fading green of pineapples and jackfruits—with its captivating scent of an addicting aroma mingling in the atmosphere. Cars used to pave their way towards tiny spaces as loud horns added to the noise of a murmuring crowd. Fruits and vegetable stalls were painted with smiling faces while hands reach for baskets of goods, and coins yell in pockets.
These colors never perish, but such chaotic beauty diminished as ashes had begun to pour—parking lots now become empty, joining the loud whispers. The restless laughter in the market silenced by a loud blow and frightening shakes of Taal.
Weeks after the explosion of the Taal Volcano, merchants of Tagaytay still face the most devastating period of the city’s business industry. Sales have severely dropped, and supplies have subsided. With these effects no one could have predicted, a lot of stories have changed.
Vegetable and fruit vendor Evelyn Fello said that following the Taal explosion, it was almost a week that they did not sell anything in their stall. “Talagang mahina ang kita, wala nga halos kita,” she shared. From earning an average of thousands of pesos daily, she only takes home an average of two hundred pesos a day, severing their capital. For over two decades of selling fruits and vegetables, she claimed that sales have never dropped this low.
Despite hardship in the market, compassion still nourishes their home as she opened their house to 30 evacuees.
“Wala na ‘yon sa akin … tulong-tulong na lang talaga,” she mumbled as her eyes curved a smile.
For Elna Dinglasan, a kakanin vendor living in Mendez, the lack of buyers in the market affects them wandering small-scale vendors. Aside from this, the factory where they make their products collapsed as well due to constant earthquakes. She only gets to sell espasol for now, a product that’s easiest to produce at home. But being the source of their daily expenses, such loss in their business has brought a threat to her families’ sake.
“Dinadaan na lang namin sa dasal … nagpapasalamat pa rin kami kasi kahit papaano nabubuhay pa rin,” Elna shared.
A failing business, a ruined factory, financial challenges, and an erupting volcano nearby—these could probably hinder someone from helping and extending hands for others. But for Evelyn and Elna, compassion prevails the most in times like this. Fostering evacuees in their own home in exchange for nothing, these women consider it returning the favor of the life they still have, knowing others were left with only burned planks and buried walls.
The eruption of Taal Volcano has surely brought Tagaytay a great melancholy but it did not stop its people to strive. Above the shaking ground a few days after the eruption, vendors remained on their posts. Despite the fading customers, some stalls never closed.
As eyes continue to be hopeful, lips remain smiling, and hands keep on reaching, in the belief that this period of hardship can be conquered.