OpinionsThe Way It IsPantawan 2: Bartertown

Pantawan 2: Bartertown


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It was toward the end of November. The weather was somewhat pleasant, uncomfortably hot only two or three days a week, with occasional fair winds, and of course, the unpredictable scattered rain showers.

He was walking southbound on one of those hot days. Along the way, other people were headed to where he came from, with more than a few of them carrying plastic bags.

Could they have come from the stores a little inland, and decided to walk on the boulevard carrying their purchases just so they can have a little weight in their hands, perhaps for balance? He didn’t spend so much time thinking about what the reasons may have been. Maybe they just wanted to take their purchases for a walk. Why not their dogs? Strange!

As he was leaving the path he was on, to go into one of the restaurants along the boulevard, a few men and women brushed past him, one of them saying, “They’re cheaper over there!” Just before he could ask them what was cheaper, they were beyond the range of his voice.

His curiosity piqued, he followed them. What was at the end? The last time he was there, it was the Pantawan 2 with the Tempurahan in the evenings.

It was a few months back when he last took a walk on the boulevard and Pantawan 2 before he left for Manila for some contract work.

His walks have always been for his health and for the beautiful scenery that the seaside boulevard offered. His walk that day was for the same reason.

After following them for a hundred meters or so, he began to see tents. He rubbed his eyes to make sure it wasn’t gunk he was seeing. He shouldn’t have doubted the efficacy of the Eye Mo drops at the start of his day. He was really seeing tents! He picked up his pace, and passed the people he was following, eager to see what were under the tents.

Whyever they were there, they were there. These were vendors selling everything from footwear to clothes, cellphone accessories, women’s handbags, ballcaps, sunglasses, and other merchandise that otherwise one would find at the public market.

This was likely a travelling band of traders who go from town-to-town on the occasion of their fiestas, and set up their tents.

As he walked past the tents, he wondered if they had their own power generator for their lights, which were numerous. He walked to the back of the tents, and yes, they had electricity, but from the City.

How were they charged for it? Maybe they were charged one flat rate because there was only one meter at the box?

He was already there anyway, so he thought he’d just walk around the Pantawan, and see the other end of the bazaars as he came ‘round. Why waste the opportunity, right?

When he got to the shoreline end of the Pantawan facing the water, he noticed two things that weren’t there before: two porta-potties spaced a few meters apart.

He was glad the City had actually thought of installing them there, albeit not in more inconspicuous spots.

But it’s good they’re there, and in time, too, because he had to use one of them. But to his dismay, it was locked!

He remembered a Dumaguete Metropost article he had read recently about the lack of restrooms along the length of the boulevard, or where tourists roam. Give that columnist an award!

He hurried to the other porta-pottie, and it was locked as well. WTF is going on here?! Why are these porta-potties locked?! He had no choice but to hastily go to the restroom outside the Press Club building, a good walk from where he was, but agonizing enough with a full bladder.

He thought of telling that MetroPost columnist about this recent experience. Maybe he could write another article about it….

Relieved, he continued his leisurely tour of the Pantawan Market, as he now called it. He thought of how far a cry it was from being a sports venue, especially for beach volleyball.

Wasn’t that what they had said when they were selling the idea of it to the public? Now, as he looked at these tents, it reminded him of Bartertown in the movie Mad Max beyond Thunderdome, sans Max Rockatansky, Auntie Entity, and all the degenerates.

The City government has always expressed great pride in Pantawan 2. So why they allowed Bartertown to destroy its faí§ade boggles the mind.

A tourist who may have heard of Pantawan 2, and wanted to see it, could just drive by, wondering where it was, never knowing that it was just behind Bartertown.

As he continued his walk, he counted the stores as he passed them, wondering how many there were, betting himself on the final number. He guessed 25. If he lost, he’d treat himself to lunch. If he won, he would treat himself to lunch. He was amused at the thought that it’d be a win-win situation. One, two, three, he counted away as he went.

At 20, it became clear he’d lose. There were surely more than 10 stalls left to count, but he didn’t concede right then because he needed to know how many there were.

The final number–38! It would have been 39, but one stall was vacant. Oh well, he lost, but he gets to eat, too, so it didn’t matter.

However long Bartertown will be selling there is how long Pantawan 2 and the waterfront will stay concealed from view.

That will be how long he would have to endure that eyesore as he goes on his walks.

Really, though, it is an eyesore to everyone–Dumagueteños, non-Dumagueteños, and the resident foreigners.

New tourists wouldn’t know any better, and would just think it’s an ugly park.

Bartertown is as strong an evidence as any of how easily we give anything up for money. Bartertown could have been placed elsewhere — like along Burgos Street that was officially designated by the City Council for activities such as this — but it wasn’t.

Could the promoter have offered the City government more for the spot? Or why else would the City so easily choose to destroy a park that it had worked so hard for to beautify? Everyone wonders!

The one consolation is that the Bartertown is temporary. It has to be, right? It had better be!

As he got treated to lunch at Bethel Guest House, he realized it was the first time he didn’t mind losing. Bon Appétit!


Author’s email: [email protected]



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