In the Philippines, you won’t find yourself in any hot destination in the country without spotting a vibrant night food market filled with different cuisines, goods, and delicious grub of every variety catering to tons of people. In these crowds, you can spot foodies who went out just for the offerings on display, tourists traversing the metro, and families enjoying the weekend. You can also find friends who have met up from different ends of the city or workers who have finally finished their shift, giving themselves some much-needed comfort and merriment.
It’s a busy scene. Today, in Metro Manila alone, you won’t find yourself short of an excellent place to check out because tons of fantastic night markets in different districts cater to food lovers and those who want to do a bit of shopping for cool finds. These days, if you simply find a pagoda tent for sale, set it up in a space with fresh air, and fill it up with eager sellers who have a passion for what they create, magic happens when the sun goes down, and the market comes alive.
Pinoy Food Culture
As a people, Filipinos are noted for their desire for togetherness and celebration. Researchers note that some of their cultural pillars are about coming together, sharing, conversing, and basking in the celebration as a group. On top of that, Filipinos love to eat. Not only does food culture open the local marketto a vast menu of different tastes derived from different cultures. But it also presents a tradition of celebrating local delicacies and dishes passed on from generation to generation.
With an innate longing for community and a long-standing love with all kinds of food, it only seems apt that any place that allows people to convene and surround themselves with a plethora of eats would become so popular in this nation. There appears to be a simple yet irrefutable joy in being able to visit a spot with crispyisaw, juicy burgers, fresh lemonade, and delicious biko in an open-air space. It is like an escape that one can run off to in the night, away from the other stresses of the city.
Attracting a Crowd in Metro Manila
So we know why Filipinos are drawn to the idea of a night food market. But what exactly spells the success of those that have stood the test of time, like Mercato Centrale, the Wall Intramuros Night Market, Mezza Norte, and the Greenfield Weekend Market?
It’s all about the ambiance, vendors, and branding. If the place looks like something worth posting on social media and some vendors can build up a loyal customer base, it’s a sure win. After all, data shows that Filipinos are the top social media users in the entire world, with both the total number of active users and the most time spent on socials. That is another facet of the Philippine culture with wanting to connect and share. Combine that with aesthetics and good food, and there’s no surprise there at all.
In 2019, the Philippines was noted as the third happiest country in South East Asia. Why might that be, despite its many problems in poverty, government, and natural disasters? Perhaps it’s these little joys that bring everyone big smiles and warm bellies in the cool night air.