Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 January 2015
By Maricar Cinco
From its humble beginnings as a talipapa (flea market), the prewar public market in Tanauan City in Batangas province will undergo a major rehabilitation as the central trading post to keep up with a bustling economic activity in the south of Luzon.

A P400-million budget for the renovation and modernization of the market, considered one of the largest in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), has been approved recently by the National Economic and Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee (Neda-ICC).

Spanning an area of 2.6 hectares of land, the public market is situated along A. Mabini Street, currently known as the city proper.

Very little is known about its history. In olden times, Tanauan’s center of economic activity used to be in the lakeshore village of Bañadero until it was moved years later to Barangay Sala, sometime in the 1950s.

“Based on the accounts we have so far, it is said that it used to be just a talipapa (a small group of fish and vegetable vendors) that sprouted when the PNR (Philippine National Railways) rail tracks were first laid here,” Gerard Laresma, city information officer, said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The talipapa was later “institutionalized” as the town’s (Tanauan became a city only in 2001) public market.

In the 1950s, a band of the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon or People’s Army Against the Japanese) torched the marketplace. “Historic records were lost to that big fire,” Laresma said.

Tanauan’s market, which has stood the test of time as well as incidents of fire and flooding, has remained a central trading hub of farm produce coming from Calabarzon, Bicol and Mindoro provinces.

It generates P55 million yearly in revenue from tariff and stall rental, market administrator Ver Ilagan said in a separate phone interview. About 2,000 vendors are renting stalls.

“Activities run almost 24 hours with the number of market goers peaking as early as 4 a.m. and as late as 8 p.m.,” Ilagan said. “By around 5:30 p.m. the bolantes (nonrenting vendors) start coming out on the streets for the night market.”

No wonder the market area has become a notorious traffic choke point, especially for motorists headed for Talisay and Taal towns. Flooding also became a persistent problem.

Last week, the city government received Neda’s formal notice and an order to secure an environmental compliance certificate before going ahead with the makeover project, under a public-private partnerhsip (PPP) scheme.

“Most PPPs are initiated by the national government (so) this was the first LGU (local government unit)-initiated (PPP), approved for implementation this 2015,” Laresma said.

The market redevelopment project got a green light from the PPP Center, an office under the Office of the President, and the Neda-ICC Cabinet Committee.

Mayor Antonio Halili has offered the project to private bidders as ground works are expected to start in February. It will involve fixing the drainage system to address flooding and constructing a multistory parking building for tricycles and jeepneys that clog the roads.

The market building will morph into a three-story facility with a commercial shopping center on the topmost floor.

Ilagan said the market expansion would attract more vendors and traders to Tanauan.

“This will also greatly redound to the neighboring towns and provinces, which need not transport their produce to as far as Manila,” Laresma said.