First-Ever Fiesta Negosyante

Apart from anywhere else, the market is always a hive of activity. Frequently bustling with buyers and sellers, arrays of multifarious stalls and shops scatter throughout the place offering all sorts of necessities. In here, vendors display wise tactics in attracting more customers (sukis), countless people stream into and roam around the place to acquire daily needs, and the cycle of give-and-take goes on endlessly.

But on the sixth of April, 2019, most market vendors didn’t adhere to the usual routine. Instead of facing their store counters for the whole day, they were facing an intricately decorated stage. They weren’t calculating payments, either, but counting themselves as audiences in the show. Hawkers of all kinds yelled with excitement, not to promote their products this time, but rather to cheer for and support their fellow vendors as they stepped on the spotlight.

With the Local Government Unit of Bayambang’s primary aim to give equal prominence to all sectors of the community, especially under the Office of Special Economic Enterprise under Ms. Gernalyn Santos, a celebration of importance of and appreciation for all market vendors was held for the public to see. In front of the Quadricentennial Building of the Bayambang Public Market, all palengkeros and palengkeras were hailed as stars of the show during the two-part festivity – the first-ever Fiesta Negosyante.

Part I was Mrs. Palengke 2019 which was held in the morning.

Just like any other pageant, Mrs. Palengke 2019 was a spectacle of loveliness, creativity, abilities, and wit – except with no restrictions other than loyal service to the public market.

Representing their respective sections – fish, vegetable, fruit, parlor, meat, corn and native cakes, bagoong, lugawan and food handling, school supplies, and Blocks I – III – 11 candidates competed for the title of the first-ever Mrs. Palengke. Hosted by Mr. Rafael L. Saygo, the pageant was divided into three sub-competitions: Creative Costume, Talent, and Long Gown – with each minor award winner receiving P2,000 cash and a sash. Likewise, the contestants’ performance scores in each phase contributed to the overall scoring for the selection of top 3, which was governed by the experienced judges Mrs. Rosbelle N. Magno, Ms. Myraflor A. Ferrer, and the chairman Mrs. Rowena P. Fernandez.

The show looked grand as the candidates gracefully owned the stage showing off their creative costumes made of recycled materials. Plastics spoons and bags, feathers, paper plates, fish scales, corn husks, abaca, and egg trays were intricately fashioned to be the building blocks of these attires which reflect the type of product the contenders sell. Finally, Candidate 11, Mrs. Geraldine Iglesias from Block III outshone the rest of the candidates with her creative costume made with plastic, egg trays, and cardboard, furnished with two scepter eggs reflecting her product’s general importance and embodying a bountiful yield throughout the year.

The marketplace is never bankrupt in terms of talent. This was proven as the eleven candidates showcased their prowess in singing, dancing, and even acting during the talent portion. Accompanied by backup dancers, using evocative props, and wearing striking outfits, the contenders from different sections exhibited sensational performances that impressed the judges and the crowd of spectators alike. At the end, Candidate 11, Mrs. Geraldine Iglesias, once again seized the “Best in Talent” title with her daring dance performance with some unique twists – a humorous skit, an improvised tinikling, and a jaw-dropping costume reveal.

Finally, the candidates unleashed their inner beauty queen aptitudes while bearing stunning outfits during the Long Gown competition. Carrying their extravagant and elaborately designed dresses with confidence, modesty and charm, the contenders again captivated both judges and audience, making it almost impossible to pick one winner. However, with her Catriona Gray-inspired ‘Mayon’ gown, Candidate 3, Mrs. Eden C. Arias from Block II caught the hearts of the panel and was adjudged “Best in Long Gown.”

From the 11 contestants, the three top performing candidates were chosen and faced the final phase which was crucial in deciding their ranking: the question and answer portion. Presented with queries assessing their marketing strategies and intellect, Candidate 1, Mrs. Lonelyn delos Santos, from the fish section, Candidate 3, Mrs. Eden Arias, from Block II, and Candidate 11, Mrs. Geraldine Iglesias, from Block III, gave their answers with assurance and composure.

The event was concluded with the much-awaited coronation ceremony. With her winning answer about upholding discipline to serve as an inspiration to her fellow market vendors, Mrs. Geraldine Iglesias from Block III was crowned the queen of the market – Mrs. Palengke 2019. She, likewise, received a trophy, sash, bouquet, and P20,000 cash for grabbing the title for the first time in history. Meanwhile, Mrs. Eden C. Arias from Block II was declared the 1st Runner Up, garnering a trophy, sash, bouquet, and P15,000 cash. Following her was Mrs. Lonelyn delos Santos, coming from the Fish Section, who was hailed 2nd Runner Up and took home a trophy, sash, bouquet, and P10,000 cash.

All participating candidates who failed to make it to top 3 were each given P2,000 as consolation prizes.

Part II was Palengke Videoke King and Queen, which was held in the afternoon.

It was now time for market vendors with special inclination to music to twinkle with their singing abilities. Hosted by Mr. Rolando J. Castillo, the second part of Fiesta Negosyante 2019 focused more on giving distinction to gifted singers surfacing from the diversity of the marketplace. With skilled judges who are also proud Bayambangueños evaluating and ranking the contestants, Mr. Jeremias R. Fernandez, Mr. Jonny G. Aquino, and the chairman, Mr. Christopher I. Chan, history was once again made as to who would become the first-ever Palengke Videoke King and Queen.

Eleven female challengers and eight male ones coming from different sections and blocks expressively sang their own renditions of songs that revealed their characteristic tones and wide vocal ranges. Song choices either reflected the contestants’ reminiscence of the past – with old familiar hymns – or appreciation of the present – with contemporary melodies frequently heard on the radio. Above all, the musical recital revealed the vendors’ inclination to Original Pilipino Music (OPM), which of course dominated their song picks and turned them into local versions of eminent singers.

Finally, upon unanimous decision of the board of judges, two singers among the 19 contenders topped the rest in terms of harmony and timbre, mastery, and overall impact. Pronounced the Palengke Videoke King 2019 was Mr. Jayson Datuin from Block III, with his impressive version of the song “All Out of Love” by Air Supply. Furthermore, her vocal stability and soothing expressions let Mrs. Jinky Chico, the Janet Basco of Parlor Section, win the title Palengke Videoke Queen 2019 with the song “You Made Me Live Again.” Each of them gained a trophy and P2,000 cash prize.

Moreover, unselected contenders for Videoke King and Queen 2019 each took home P300 cash as consolation.

Once again, the municipality of Bayambang has demonstrated its abundance with lovely and talented people. Some of them emerge even from the most unexpected of places. And although often disguised by the constant buzz and frenzy of their second home, these gems that fuel the municipality’s economy and are essential in sustaining its daily needs can be found in the palengke itself.