Teen vendors share their Filipino culture at the Dededo Flea Market | Way of life

Around 5-6am on Saturday and Sunday, vendors at the Dededo flea market set up their stalls to welcome a flock of early risers looking for a hot breakfast, vegetables, plants and other miscellaneous goods.

Although most vendors are from an older demographic, some teenagers also sacrifice their early mornings to earn money, help family members, and play a behind-the-scenes role bringing cultural foods to tables and kitchen cupboards every weekend.

Steven Enriques holds a stalk of green bananas on November 5, 2022 at the Dededo flea market.

Steven Enriques, 14, starts his day by preparing a varied range of local fruit and vegetables and setting up the tent under which he sells them. Steven and his family also set up most of the tents scattered around the market.

“Waking up around 3 a.m., getting everything ready and packing, setting up (the tents) here, and then we wait for the vendors,” said high school freshman Tiyan.

Teen vendors share their Filipino culture at Dededo Flea Market

Steven Enriques working at his family’s stall at the Dededo flea market on November 12, 2022.

At the age of 13, Steven started working at the flea market to help out with his grandmother’s small business. Steven works as a cashier at the stand, receiving payments and entertaining customers who approach their tables which feature local fruits like green bananas and coconuts, as well as vegetables like chayote, eggplant, okra , soursop, squash and long beans.

Teen vendors share their Filipino culture at Dededo Flea Market

Heart of banana, tomato and guava in Steven Enriques’ family tent, November 12, 2022.

Like Steven, Charlene Simon rises with the sun to set the tables and rearrange the vegetables in her family’s vegetable garden. Charlene’s family sells vegetables such as water spinach or kangkong, long squash or opo and saluyot. Charlene is the cashier at the stand, helping customers check off the vegetable section of their shopping lists.

Teen vendors share their Filipino culture at Dededo Flea Market

Charlene Simon and her mother Maria Cristina G. Simon.

At 6 years old, Charlene started accompanying her parents not only to help them with their business, but also to serve the community and thus earn extra money.

Teen vendors share their Filipino culture at Dededo Flea Market

Patola and calabash at Charlene Simon’s family stand on November 12, 2022.

“At least for 4+ years I’ve been selling at the flea market probably just to help with community service and earn money to save for future items I want to buy. (I can) hang out on the weekends -end rather than being locked up at home all day,” said 14-year-old Charlene.

Beneath the haze of barbecue smoke, 18-year-old Carmina Ramas serves customers cantaloupe juice, a buko pandan drink (coconut and pandan jelly) and pork barbecue skewers from a food truck.

Traditional ingredients

Ramas reminds her fellow Filipinos of their culture’s cuisine through the Filipino street food she serves. By selling dishes such as goto beef tripe, chicken arrozcaldo and batchoy, it also introduces Filipino flavors to tourists of different ethnicities.

Teen vendors share their Filipino culture at Dededo Flea Market

Carmina Ramas poses next to the stall of her work, Loida’s Foods, on November 5, 2022, at the Dededo flea market.

“Most of our customers are Filipinos but also CHamoru, whites, blacks. There are also Asians like Koreans and Japanese buying from us,” Ramas said.

Charlene and her family sell specific vegetables that are prevalent in Filipino culture. By selling these vegetables, Charlene’s family makes traditional Filipino ingredients accessible.

“I don’t think other people are selling it (vegetables). They sell different things like foods that are trendy. But we sell these vegetables to some families who want to make Filipino food because they miss it,” Charlene said.

Cultural value

Due to her long experience in the market, Charlene observes the cultural value of reciprocity and the Filipino value of hospitality in the friendship between vendors and between vendors and their customers.

“They [the vendors] just support each other with discounts because they are small businesses too. They also give him [the vegetables] away as a good thing because other stores would give something away for free or do something nice. To give back, they just donate vegetables, fruits or whatever,” Charlene said.

As for Steven, his grandmother helps other local farmers sell their crops by buying their vegetables to resell them at the market.

“We go around the South and buy from people. They want to make money, so we buy from them. We sell for them, and it’s a normal routine for all of us,” Steven said.

Like Charlene, Steven also notices the Filipino values ​​of camaraderie in the stories customers tell them.

“They (customers) tell us how they like the product or how they are going to make the product. It’s really fun to listen to. They are very friendly. They like to talk about their personal stuff, like what they’re doing or what’s going on in their life,” Steven said.

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