Why Agdao should be called ‘Bagdao’

Jun. 19, 2007

At the Agdao public market, the sea of ukay-ukay can be a thrilling and overwhelming sight. Here, the bags are worth all the trouble. But wait — even the “trouble” part in ukay-ukay shopping is gone because the stalls have been organized and friendly vendors are willing to help in your bargain hunting.

By Angely Chi
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Buying a new bag is as much a task as buying a new pair of shoes or a new dress. You dont just pull any bag off the rack; you have to find the right one.

For me, the right bag to find a few days before the opening of classes is a small backpack with an appealing design, a space large enough to accommodate reading materials and a binder, several pockets, a body that does not strain from weight, and a price that would not strain my budget.

I began my search at the citys malls and department stores in Uyanguren but found none that would meet my requirements. There were some I liked because of their look and functionality but the prices were least appealing to a student like me. The cheaper ones, on the other hand, had dull designs while some were poorly made.

So where else do you go to when you cant find what you want in the usual shops and malls?

The answer came to me from a memory of a recent trip the Agdao public market with artist friends. After having dinner at the markets barbecue stalls, my friends went to the nearby ukay-ukay stalls a few steps away and began looking at the wares. Most of the stalls had packed up while some stayed open to accommodate late-night shoppers.

(Literally, the Visayan verb ukay means to dig through a heap of stuff, or to mix. Ukay-ukay are used clothing or apparel being sold in the sidewalks or in flea markets. There’s one thing that is almost entirely certain in this ukay-ukay phenomenon — most of them are originals. This does not only mean psychological comfort for the buyer but a guarantee of the top quality of the materials. Ukay-ukays are usually from rich countries — said to have been donated as relief goods that, for some reason, found their way to poor countries like the Philippines.)

My friend Anna was looking at bags hanging from the racks of one stall when she gleefully exclaimed, This is so nice! God, I like this so bad.

Bag Lady. An ukay-ukay vendor at the Agdao public market shows her ware. For as low as 150 pesos, a bargain hunter can have a branded, top-quality backpack. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

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