Iloilo Public Markets and Market Days

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The markets of Iloilo Province are listed below, but first a few comments on why I love to shop at the markets, using the Iloilo Central Market as an example.  The Iloilo Central Market is everything the modern Western supermarket is not.  The Central Market is vast and cavernous, it’s dark, damp and smelly, with hundreds of stalls selling everything from bolo knives to chicken’s feet.  We love shopping there.  At first the market seems a chaotic jumble, but once you eyes adjust to the dim light, the senses settle down, you can see that the market is organized in sections based on what’s being sold and that the merchants there are well-established businesses, with their own clientele of “sukis” — regular customers.  Many well-heeled Filipinos do most of their shopping at the markets, being driven there by their drivers in their SUVs.

These large commercial markets are open every day and offer a large selection. Both are within walking distance of Robinson’s Iloilo mall.

Iloilo City Central Market
Iloilo City “Super” or “Terminal” Market.  The Super is the best and cheapest place to buy vegetables in the Iloilo area.  Many vendors in area markets buy their vegetables at the Super and mark them up for resale, so they are not as fresh and cost more.

It’s unfortunate that the Iloilo public market facilities are so ramshackle, so obviously neglected.  Millions and billions are put into new flyovers and swanky airports which the average Filipino will never use, but the public markets are allowed to deteriorate even though they are depended on by thousands of ordinary citizens every day.

Dried fish vendor - Iloilo City Public Market

Dried fish vendor – Iloilo City Public Market

Some ex-pats in the Philippines try as much a possible to live as they would in the first world;  driving to the huge malls in their SUVs and so on.  We do the same in many respects.  We live in a gated, guarded private compound, we try to get the best medical care we can, we have cable TV and DSL, enjoy our air-con at night and get our money from an ATM machine.  But, for some reason we love to ride the jeepneys and love to shop at the markets.  For one thing the food is better and the prices less.  We get great seafood, fruits and vegetables, generally much better than what’s available in the supermarkets.  But the reasons go beyond that.  The markets and the jeepneys bring you into a little bit closer to Filipinos and Filipinos, not beach resorts, are what make life in the Philippines so attractive to us.  Further, Philippine public markets are so evocative, so exotic and so colorful, they are just an adventure in a way no modern supermarket ever will be.

Dried fish at the market

The market days for select municipalities in Iloilo are the especially active days when producers and vendors come in largest numbers. Most or all of these markets are open seven days per week.  On non-market days they may have fewer vendors and not as good a selection or perhaps as good bargains.

In some municipalities, market days can be something of a colorful madhouse.

Some vendors at municipal markets buy their fruits and vegetables at the big markets in Iloilo City and resell them in their home market.  That means that you find higher prices in small municipal markets than you’ll find in the city.   On the other hand, when local farmers bring their produce to the local markets, especially on market day, prices can be significantly better than you’ll find in Iloilo City.  On market days, prices can fall as the market day draws to to close and vendors fear having unsold merchandise.

Beautiful Beans at Iloilo Public Market

Sometimes, but not always, prices quoted to “white” foreigners are higher.  For this reason, my wife sometimes wishes I was not with her.  I go anyway because I love shopping the markets.  I know the proper prices of many common items; bananas, mangoes, papaya, potatoes, and so forth so if I am quoted and excessive price, I just move on to the next vendor.  Once you become known to a vendor (in local parlance a “suki”) you’ll be offered good prices.

  • Ajuy, Iloilo: Sunday
  • Alimodian, Iloilo: Tuesday and Friday
  • Anilao, Iloilo: Friday
  • Banate, Iloilo: Wednesday
  • Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo : Wednesday and Saturday
  • Barotac Viejo, Iloilo : Thursday
  • Cabatuan, Iloilo: Wednesday and Sunday
  • Calinog, Iloilo: Tuesday
  • Carles, Iloilo: Monday and Friday (especially good for seafood)
  • Conception, Iloilo: Thursday
  • Dingle, Iloilo: Saturday
  • Duenas, Iloilo: Sunday
  • Dumangas, Iloilo: Sunday
  • Estancia, Iloilo: Tuesday
  • Guimbal, Iloilo: Thursday
  • Igbaras, Iloilo: Wednesday
  • Janiuay, Iloilo: Wednesday and Saturday
  • Lambunao, Iloilo: Sunday
  • Leganes, Iloilo: Sunday
  • Leon, Iloilo: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (especially good for vegetables)
  • Maasin, Iloilo: Monday and Thursday
  • Miagao, Iloilo: Saturday (an especially attractive market, clean and well organized)
  • New Lucena, Iloilo: Sunday
  • Oton, Iloilo: Monday and Saturday
  • Passi, Iloilo: Monday and Saturday
  • Pavia, Iloilo: Wednesday
  • Pototan, Iloilo: Tuesday and Friday
  • San Joaquin, Iloilo: Wednesday and Saturday (market being reconstructed)
  • San Miguel, Iloilo: Wednesday and Saturday
  • Santa Barbara, Iloilo: Friday and Tuesday
  • Sara, Iloilo: Monday and Saturday
  • Tigbauan, Iloilo: Sunday
  • Tubungan, Iloilo: Monday, Friday and Tuesday
  • Villa, Iloilo (Iloilo City)
  • Zarraga, Iloilo: Sunday


PLEASE give update and corrections in the comment box below.  Thanks!

Comments (7) Write a comment

  1. I was looking for a history lesson on Public markets and happened to read on this nice article. I am a stall holder here at Iloilo Central Market and for once I am so happy to have people actually have good comments on smelly public markets. Unfortunately, the city government has plans to commercialize the public markets starting with Central Market and I fear that your idea of a western supermarket will come to Iloilo City.


  2. I like your site. 🙂

    Market day in Santa Barbara is every Friday (that’s right) and Tuesday.


  3. Hi!

    The small town up north named San Rafael hold their market day on a Sunday 🙂

    On the side note…Banate is also a good place to go on seafood shopping. Just make sure you go there early in the morning to get the freshest ones.


  4. I love your photo of the dried section of the central market. i love that area.
    your list of local market days is commendable too.thank you


  5. Pingback: : Shopping Centers in Iloilo City

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