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Marka Merkado: In More Ways Than One

With my trembling hands laced with an unfathomable warmth from my heart, I slowly held the microphone while hopeful eyes were focused on me, waiting for my next move. I heaved a deep sigh before I began telling the most passionate poetry that I ever wrote, throughout my existence.

My vision lingered on the mural of a local vendor in my hometown and it somehow felt nostalgic because every fragment of the memories that I spent inside the market when I was young suddenly flashed in my mind. Several minutes had passed and we decided to leave but my eyes were still attached to the mural as I took a few steps away from it, and little did I know, all the worries that I had earlier were replaced by comfort – a profound solace.

We arrived at the heart of the market and I couldn’t help but be amazed for the place was full of vibrant colors which seemingly radiated positivity towards the people. There were chairs provided and in the center was a mini-stage. I looked around and saw the smiles of the audiences who were immersed in observing the current program at that time which was the “Inukay Upcycled Fashion” that etched such genuine happiness on their faces. That moment, I wondered if I have the capabilities to left a mark -- if my words could be able to give people hope and reach them in places where my hands couldn’t. The children who grew up inside the market and witnessed the stories of local vendors every day started singing in front of us. Their parents were way beyond proud of them and as they finished performing, and the sound of claps and laughter resonated throughout the place. My hands slowly turned cold and it was at that time when I realized that we were about to perform already.

Days before the event, I contemplated what to write. It was like I am in the depth of cluelessness because I could not find nor grasp the right words to include in my poem. But reminiscing the days when I used to wake up early in the morning every Thursday to tag along with my grandmother who sells vegetables in the market packed with countless people gave me inspiration. I came back to my senses and as I slowly walked

to the stage, my heartbeat more erratic and louder. The paper that I was holding was also shaking because of the vibrations coming from my hands yet, I ignored all the worries that I had in the back of my mind as I spoke the first word in my poem. The smiles and nods of people who were watching me while the words came out of my mouth humbled me and fueled my confidence to deliver my poem well. All the uncertainties that I felt completely vanished when I saw the expressions of the people, and most importantly, the eyes of children. Calmness enveloped my being and when I heard the claps around me, I couldn’t help but be relieved.

The activities continued until the sun bid goodbye while I was in awe, for Marka Merkado served as an act of empowerment to our local market vendors who continuously clasped their way in order to survive in this rapidly progressing

community. The murals that my eyes witnessed will always be a constant reminder of the importance of our market vendors. They are the people who keep the existence of our culture and customs alive despite t

he tough challenges that they face in competing with other newly-established businesses in the locality.

other photos from Valerie Tan, Elle Divine and Artivism Iloilo

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