Manila night market

Manila night market

The so-called ‘night market', held for almost a quarter of a century in Manila's Tutuban Center, has been a magnet for would-be entrepreneurs, and small business exponents wishing to make an extra few dollars for their families. As well as being a bustling street market where a diverse range of wares are displayed, the area is also popular with the many tourists who visit the Philippines' capital. They drop in to the Tutuban, not just in the hope of coming across bargains or holiday souvenirs, but simply to get a taste of the authentic Filipino atmosphere.

Although the wonders of the night market have been imitated in other Filipino population centers, none come close to reproducing the vivid and colourful background of the original market. There are many reasons for its enduring popularity.

A lot of people in the city lead very busy lives, often ruled by the dictates of the nine-to-five treadmill. When they have finished their daily toil and are contemplating the commute, a lot of the shopping malls are already starting to wind down towards closing time. The night market it perfect in this respect, as it offers hassle-free browsing around the stalls at a time that is very convenient for a lot of city dwellers. The range of products on display is another huge draw. Many locals choose to do a lot of their Christmas shopping here due to the sheer variety of items available, and their relative inexpensiveness compared to goods being offered on supermarket shelves. At any time it is possible to come across stalls hawking toys, fashionable accessories, home furnishings, clothes and electronic gadgets of every conceivable description.

The tenants taking advantage of the competitive rates for setting-up shop come from a wide variety of different backgrounds. T-shirts are always popular in the Philippines, either for adults or kids; and clothes stalls are excellent outlets for local manufacturers to sell their wares. One stall owner stated: ‘The designs are good but not expensive'.

The opportunity to reach a wide cross-section of Filipino residents, as well as visitors, means that many tenants have branched out. They might well have kicked-off their fledgling business enterprises with a solitary stall, but the benefits of expansion are there for all to see. Some tenants quickly find themselves having to open another stall, or stalls, in order to cope with demand. Even the most humble Manila resident can find themselves making a considerable little income from the night market, certainly enough to support a family, as well as giving enough to invest in a few home improvements, or perhaps a modest car.

Another reason cited for the market's popularity with entrepreneurs is the community aspect. People get to know neighbouring stall owners, and can swap ideas and observations about consumer trends. There is also a greater sense of security from thieves amongst the closely-packed stalls, with their owners keeping an eye out for each other.